Hanover, NH — Todd Harrity of Princeton defeated Nick Sachvie of Cornell 3-0 to win the Pool Trophy and the men’s 2011 national individual championship.
Harrity was like a man on a mission this season. Last year, as a freshman, he made it to the Pool Trophy finals against Colin West of Harvard. During the regular season, Harrity had taken West to four games, and he pushed the Harvard senior to five during the 2010 Men’s National Team Championships.
At the 2010 Individual Championships, held at Trinity, Harrity was close on West’s heels throughout the first two games. The Princeton number 1 lost the first game 9-11 and nearly had the second, falling 11-13 in extra points. After the extreme effort in the second game, it was like the wind was knocked out of Harrity’s sails; he only mustered a single point as West won the title in three.
This season, Harrity has looked nothing like the player who lost that third game a year ago. Over the summer, the Philadelphia native helped the United States win a bronze medal at the World University Games in Australia, upsetting the top player from Hong Kong to bring home the individual bronze as well. Harrity has carried that success on into the college squash season and has been nothing short of dominant. He dropped his first game of the season to Gabe de Melo of F&M, winning in four, and followed that with another four-game win against Sachvie during the Princeton-Cornell dual match.
Since then — late November — Harrity hasn’t lost a game. Gary Power of Harvard pushed him to extra points a few times, but other than that, Harrity has been in command, winning match after match handily.
If there was a player to stop Harrity, it was Sachvie, the last player to win a game off of him. The sophomore from St. Catherines, Ontario, is relatively new to college squash, having transferred to Cornell this year from Niagara College. Though Sachvie is a fresh face, his name should sound familiar to college squash fans. His brother Chris played number 1 for the Big Red and was a two-time All-American; Chris is currently an assistant coach at St. Lawrence. His sister Lauren, a junior at Cornell, has captained the Big Red since she was a sophomore.
Nick Sachvie had an opportunity to make history: no Cornell player or team has ever won a national squash title. Sachvie hadn’t been as dominant as Harrity all season, but the Cornell sophomore certainly was battle-tested. Playing number 1 for the Big Red, he had come out on top of several four- and five-game battles during the regular season, losing only to Gabe de Melo and Harrity.
Sachvie had also shown his versatility through the earlier rounds of Pool Trophy play, besting players with diverse styles, like Kenneth Chan of Yale and Andres Vargas of Trinity. In addition to Vargas and Chan, Sachvie had defeated John Roberts of Yale and Adam Perkiomaki of Rochester en route to the finals.
Harrity had defeated Antonio Diaz (Trinity), Andres Duany (Rochester), Beni Fischer (Rochester), and Vikram Malhotra (Trinity) to advance to the finals.
In the first game, Sachvie hung with Harrity through a series of long rallies. Several errors from Sachvie let Harrity run up the score a bit. Sachvie started to settle and answered Harrity with some terrific shots, but little was getting past the Princeton sophomore. Sachvie tinned a forehand drive to give Harrity the first game 11-6.
The second game was more of the same. It started close: 1-1, 2-2, and then Sachvie pulled out to a short lead, 5-3. Harrity evened the score at 5-5, and the rallies continued to get longer and longer. “All that effort,” Harrity sighed after a rally ended in a let, getting a laugh from the crowd. Another 41-shot rally ended in a let, Sachvie hit a ball out to end a shorter rally. Then the two locked into a 42-shot rally, which Harrity won when Sachvie’s lob went out of court. Harrity outlasted Sachvie to win the game 11-6.
Sachvie kept the score close through most of the third game. Early on Sachvie yelled at himself, his frustration visible, but he stayed within a point of Harrity, sometimes behind, sometimes ahead. Then Harrity pulled ahead at 9-7 with a cross-court to the backhand that Sachvie just missed. Sachvie answered that shot by returning the serve with a kill. The next rally went past 60 shots, including a dramatic series of volley drops that both players had to stretch and scramble to reach. All that effort, and again it ended in a let. Harrity won a shorter rally to bring it to match ball. The next rally was another marathon, over 50 shots. Harrity hit a ball deep to the backhand, and Sachvie attempted to flick it off the back wall. The ball arched up high and fell just short of the front wall, grazing the tin and ending the match.
Bob Callahan, the outgoing men’s College Squash Association president, presented Sachvie with the finalist trophy and Harrity with the Pool Trophy. After thanking host Dartmouth and the CSA’s sponsors — Dunlop, Harrow, and Marquis Jet — Callahan noted that Harrity was the first American player to win the Pool Trophy in over twenty years. He also said the quality of the match reflected how much the standard of play in college squash has risen over the years.
If Harrity was a man on a mission this season, consider it accomplished.