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Kenyon Club Squash Ends Season with Loss to Denison

After a slow season, the team opted out of nationals and ended their season early.

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 03:01

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Courtesy of Danilo Lobo Dias

The squash team huddles on the court before a match at the United States Naval Academy earlier this season.

 

The Kenyon College Club Squash team faced its long-standing rival, Denison University, in Granville this past Saturday, Jan. 26. Outmatched and understaffed, the team lost to the Big Red 9-0. The loss ended the team’s season, as the team has opted not to go to the National Championships this year and have no other matches scheduled. 

“We’re not going to nationals anymore, so we played our last match of the season on Saturday against Denison,” said team co-captain Danilo Lobo Dias ’13. “We got crushed, because we had to move a bunch of people up, and we had to start beginners 6, 7, 8, 9. Our bottom four were all beginners and they just got crushed.”

Jeremy Leiser-Mitchell ‘13 agreed, adding that the matches were fun despite the loss.

“I thought we played well, but we were down a few guys. ... We didn’t really have a chance going in there,” Leiser-Mitchell said. “But we played well; we played hard; we had fun.”

The team played Denison earlier this season at home, and used a strategy that could not work for them in this match. For squash matches, players are ranked 1-9, and each plays the player with the corresponding rank from the opposing team. The team with the most individual player victories wins the match. 

In the fall, Kenyon was able to use this to their advantage. In Kenyon’s October match against Denison, the team’s top four players struggled in their matches, but the bottom five players pulled out wins, and in doing so managed to eke out a close victory over the Big Red, 5-4. 

This time around, however, Kenyon was missing several of its top players, including co-captain Pete Heck ’14, who usually plays in the top three but was unable to make the trip due to a concussion, and Eric Milbourn ’13, who usually plays in the number-one position. Denison also utilized the power of its top two players, identical twin first years who were both highly ranked in high school. 

On the national level, varsity and club teams compete against each other, meaning that Kenyon’s Club team is actually ranked above some varsity teams. 

In fact, before Saturday’s loss, Kenyon was ranked 38th and Denison 41st in the Dunlop Men’s College Squash Division, according to online rankings prepared by the College Squash Association.

When the team does go to Nationals, as they have for the past few years, they usually play in the E pool, for teams ranked 33rd-40th in the country. However, Lobo Dias said, “with the loss we probably will go down in the 40s,” which would put them in the “F” pool, a position lower than the team has been in four years. Also, it is expensive for the team to go to events like nationals, because of the long-distance travel involved.

Kenyon and Denison are among the few schools with squash programs in the Midwest, so going to Nationals would mean a costly flight to the East Coast. “Basically we decided to not spend a bunch of money to go to nationals when we don’t have a full squad anymore,” Lobo Dias said. “We just kind of fell apart this year.”

Leiser-Mitchell said that even though the season did not go as they had hoped, the joy of the sport itself never dies: “We always have fun playing squash.” 

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