Squash dominates season-opening home matches

by Will Hiltz | 11/23/04 6:00am

The Dartmouth men's and women's squash teams both opened their regular seasons with a four-match squash festival at the Berry Courts over the weekend. The men are coming off one of their most successful seasons in school history, finishing fifth in the country in the '03-'04 campaign, while the women's team also turned in a strong season last year by finishing sixth nationally.

The outlook for this coming year is positive for both the men's and women's squads. These traditional early-season matches with perennial squash punching bags Navy, Bates and Bowdoin usually serve as great warm-up matches for both teams to prepare for the long season ahead, and this year proved to be no different.

The action began Friday night, when the men's squad took on the Midshipmen of Navy. Dartmouth came on strong from the start, with newcomers Adam King '08 and Amit Gaind '08 each scoring victories in their Dartmouth squash debuts at the No. 3 and No. 9 spots respectively. Senior Tim "Viper" Vipond also slithered his way through two tiebreakers to notch a 3-0 victory in the No. 6 slot, staking the Big Green to an early 3-0 lead.

Dartmouth's success continued in the second set of matches, as the mustachioed sophomores James Crandell '07 and Todd Wood '07 both scored wins, putting the match somewhat anti-climatically out of reach before the sixth match had finished. Junior Adam Slutsky '06 sweated his way through an easy three-game win to put Dartmouth at a commanding 6-0 advantage. Senior Scott Kennedy went down 3-0 in the No. 7 spot.

Kennedy said after the match, "[I was] merely conserving my energy for the upcoming matches this weekend. Rest assured that Bowdoin and Bates will feel the wrath of my well-rested game tomorrow."

This left both senior captains Ryan Donegan '05 and Cam Fortin '05 as the only members of the Big Green left to play. Donegan hammered his Midshipman opponent in three straight games, justifying the three-time All American's pre-season individual ranking of No. 8 nationally.

Sadly, the final match was not all smooth sailing for the Big Green. After establishing an early 2-0 lead, captain Fortin dropped consecutive games, forcing a decisive game five. Buoyed by some very vocal spectators, Fortin jumped out to an early lead, only to have his opponent knot the score at five midway through the fifth. After several handouts at five, Fortin took a racquet in the face from the Navy player, sparking a Ron Artest-esque outburst that lead to his disqualification, after the Navy coach had lodged a formal protest.

Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the Dartmouth women took to the court early Saturday morning against Connecticut College to open their season. The Big Green easily swept aside the feeble Connecticut College women, taking the match 9-0 in record time. The ladies logged a staggering collective total of 13 games in which none of their players lost a point.

Senior captain Kelly Sennatt '05 commented on her opponent after the match.

"I think she thought we were playing racquetball or something," Sennatt said. "She just kept hitting the ball off the ceiling."

Next up for the women was Bowdoin, and this match proved to be only slightly more challenging than the laughter against Connecticut College. Led by the dynamic duo of Christie Alexander '08 and Julia Drury '06 at the top of the ladder, the Dartmouth women easily overwhelmed the Polar Bears, besting them again by a 9-0 score, with only Drury taking more than the minimal three games to beat her opponent.

Rebecca Loucks '08 said after the game, "I felt bad bludgeoning my opponent like that, because I know that polar bears are endangered. Well, those girls certainly will be endangered if they continue to play like that."

While the women were besting Bowdoin, the men were back on the court against the Bowdoin men. Once again, the Dartmouth men were victorious, this time by an 8-1 margin.

All of the regulars notched easy wins, and reservist Billy Nix '07 and team towel boy Dan Schneider '07 both pitched in with 3-0 victories at the bottom of the ladder. The lone blemish came from Crandell, who succumbed to his opponent in three hard-fought games.

The final match of the day for the men and the women came against Bates, and although the opponent was different, the results for both squads were much the same, as both the men and women posted 9-0 victories over Bates. On the men's side, freshman King moved to 3-0 on the weekend by downing his opponent in straight games. Kennedy recovered from his Friday night loss to Navy with a victory in three games, as did Fortin. Donegan completed an extremely impressive weekend in which he only dropped two points overall against his three opponents.

The women's match followed a similar pattern, completing a 9-0 victory over Bates with relative ease. All matches were won by the Dartmouth women in three games, and almost every member of the women's squad got an opportunity to tap-dance on her opponent, an opportunity that may not present itself quite as often when the Big Green enters Ivy play in the upcoming weeks.

The weekend was not over for the men, however, as they were back on court Sunday morning against Franklin and Marshall. Despite the second early wake-up of the weekend, the Big Green was unfazed and took care of business in short order. The self-styled "mustache trio" of Wood, Nix and Crandell led the Big Green to yet another easy win, topping F&M 8-1. The lone defeat on the Dartmouth side came from King, though he could hardly be blamed after going 3-1 in his opening weekend on the team. To cap off yet another smashing win for the men, Vorapat Praneerprachachon '07 (affectionately known around the courts as Bob) took out his opponent much to the delight of the adoring crowd.

The men's squad (4-0) and the women (3-0) next travel to Boston Dec. 1 to face Harvard in Ivy League play.