New Haven, CT — Trinity College has clinched its twelfth consecutive national championship with a 6-3 win over the Yale Bulldogs. Baset Chaudhry’s 3-0 win over Kenneth Chan gave the Bantams five matches, enough victories to lock the “A” Division title before all the matches had been completed.
The Bantams, who are coached by Paul Assaiante, now extend their record-breaking winning streak to 224 matches, the longest in the history of US varsity intercollegiate sports.
Trinity came into the tournament as the top seed and passed through the first round with relative ease, defeating the University of Western Ontario 8-1. The Bantams’ sole loss came at number seven, as Western Ontario’s Joel Rothwell came back from losing the second and third games to defeat Chris Binnie in five games. Parth Sharma’s and Reinhold Hergeth’s opponents took their matches to four games at number two and number nine, respectively, but the rest of the Bantams made it through the match with 3-0 wins.
The Bantams’ semifinal match was a different story, as they faced the Princeton University Tigers. The two teams have a long history. The Tigers nearly ended the Bantams’ winning streak back in 2006, when four-time national individual champion Yasser El Halaby took Trinity’s Gustav Detter, then a freshman, to match point in the third game with the two teams tied 4-all in matches. Detter, who graduated last year and won the 2009 Skillman Award, battled back to win the match in five. Last season, Princeton nearly defeated Trinity twice. They lost to the Bantams 5-4 during the regular season, and the 2009 Potter Cup came down to the final match. With the match score tied 4-4, Trinity’s Baset Chaudhry and Princeton’s Mauricio Sanchez played an epic five-game match, with Chaudhry coming from behind in the last game to win.
Due to the graduation of several key players and a string of injuries, Princeton has not been as competitive this season, but the Tigers came into the semifinal match ready to prove their strength. Princeton went up 2-1 after the first round of matches, with Chris Callis defeating Supreet Singh at number three and David Pena securing a dramatic victory over Antonio Salas at six. Trinity came back to sweep the next round of matches, as Randy Lim hung on to win in five over Princeton senior Santiago Imberton at number five. With the match score at 4-2, Princeton needed to win the final three matches. Despite some close games, it was too tall an order. Trinity won the match 7-2.
Yale’s trip to the finals was even more dramatic. A year ago, the Bulldogs left the National Team Championships frustrated after a fifth-place finish. Seeded third coming into the 2009 tournament, they were upset by the sixth-ranked Rochester Yellowjackets in the first round. Bumped into the consolation bracket, the highest the Bulldogs could finish was fifth. Yale had had a hard-fought win over eventual fourth-place finisher Harvard at the end of the regular season, making the final tournament standings harder to take.
The Bulldogs, who are coached by Dave Talbott, started the 2009-2010 season with an exclamation point by winning the Ivy Scrimmages decisively. The Bulldogs went on to prove the win was no fluke. Ranked fourth in the preseason, they upset Rochester 6-3 in early January to take over the number two spot in the national rankings. They held off Princeton 5-4 in late January, clinched the Ivy League title with a win over Harvard, and only had one blemish on their record: a 1-8 loss to Trinity.
Yale cruised through the opening round of the 2010 Men’s National Team Championships with a 9-0 win over Dartmouth. The semifinal match presented the Bulldogs with an opportunity to avenge the loss to Rochester in last season’s Potter Cup, but it wouldn’t be easy. With the stands around courts 1 and 3 in the Brady Squash Center packed, Yale and Rochester battled it out through all three rounds. Coming into the final round, Yale and Rochester were tied 3-3. The Bulldogs went up 4-3 with Richard Dodd’s convincing 3-0 win over Joe Chapman at number 7, and they sealed the match with Hywel Robinson’s come-from-behind 3-1 win over Andres Duany at number 4.
Given Trinity’s dominance over Yale during the regular season, it seemed like the final match would be anti-climatic after the semifinals. But with the home fans cheering them on, the Bulldogs put up a fight, showing the toughness and spirit that drove their considerable improvement this season. Robinson at four and John Roberts at five both won their matches in four games for Yale. C. J. Plimpton won in five for Yale at number nine, and Dodd nearly did the same, pushing Trinity’s Chris Binnie through the final points in a marathon five-gamer: 12-14, 14-12, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8. In the end, though, Trinity’s streak remained unbroken.
Check CollegeSquashAssociation.com throughout the week for results from the other divisions as well photos and videos from the Men’s National Team Championships. CollegeSquashAssociation.com will also be covering the Women’s National Team Championships, which will be held at Yale next weekend, February 26th – 28th.
Click on the thumbnails to view a larger version of each photo. More photos will be posted later.