This past Saturday, the Connecticut College’s men’s varsity squash team (ranked 29th in the country) had a full schedule, with two matches in two different cities. In the morning, the men headed up to Massachusetts to meet the Tufts men’s varsity squash team (ranked 28th) for a close match. After a morning of competitive play, the Tufts men narrowly defeated the Conn men. Tufts won 3 – 6. Despite the loss, the Conn men walked away with big wins at the number 5, 7 and 8 positions on the ladder. Michael Rodriguez ’20 won in four games at #5 on the ladder, while Benedict Osajie ’17 and Louis Feingold ’19 each won their matches in five games at #7 and # 8, respectively.
Later on, the Conn men continued their trip, moving on to Providence, where they played the University of Virginia’s men’s club squash team. They met the UVA team at the neutral site of Brown University for one of the few late night matches of the season. Despite its lower ranking, the UVA is a team on the rise and was able to pull out a 9 – 0 victory over Conn. The Conn men played well, especially given the major line-up changes put into effect after their morning match. With Daniel Reisman and Michael Rodriguez sitting out, most of the players were forced to move up two spots in the ladder.
UVA squash is technically a club sport, but this means little in light of the fact that the team is backed by all of the perks of an impressive Division I institution. Recently, UVA alum Jaffray Woodriff donated over $12 million to open the McArthur Squash Center. The brand new, state of the art facility is 33,000 ft large. With a glass court, eight international singles courts and two doubles courts, the facility was given the stamp of approval by U.S. Squash and cleared as a potential host for future elite-level tournaments. With the opening of the McArthur Squash Center in 2013, the UVA program has gained access to some of the best recruits in the country.
Although the Conn men put up a good fight Saturday night, they’ve been at a serious disadvantage since captain’s practices in the fall. While the UVA men have access to an elite facility where the entire team can be on court at once, the Conn men have access to three outdated international singles courts. Conn provides all it can to support its sports teams, but there are limits to what a Division III school can offer its athletes, especially in comparison to what Division I schools provide. The difference manifests clearly between the Atlantic Coast Conference and the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Facilities, trainers, coaching staff and other factors play a significant role in the performance of a team. Therefore, when looking at the results of Saturday night’s match in Providence, it is important to understand that the Conn men, a Division III program, put up a respectable fight against the UVA men, for all intents and purposes a Division I program.
The Conn men have an exciting few weeks coming up. Conn squash fans can look forward to their matches at the NESCACS, a weekend at Hamilton College and another weekend at Nationals, location yet to be determined. •