Northampton, MA — The Skillman Award is given annually to a senior men’s squash player who has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship during his entire college career. It is considered the “Heisman Trophy” of men’s college squash.
This year, there are six outstanding candidates for the Skillman Award (listed alphabetically):
Benjamin Fischer (University of Rochester): Fischer, the 2010 Liberty League Player of the Year, has been a consistent presence at or near the top of the Yellowjackets’ ladder for the past few seasons. After earning Second-Team All-American honors in 2009, he went on to earn First-Team honors in 2010 and 2011. He was also named to the All-Liberty League Team in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and earned Academic All-Liberty League honors this season. Fischer has been the Yellowjackets’ co-captain for two seasons. Rochester head coach Martin Heath says that “Beni has been a model of consistency, fairness, and commitment in his work ethic, behavior on court, and demeanor off court. He has accepted his wins and his losses with equal grace and has assumed his leadership responsibilities within the team with quiet assuredness and good humor.”
Vikram Malhotra (Trinity College): The Bantams’ senior co-captain has set a high standard of play this season for his younger teammates. After finishing the 2010-2011 season ranked third in the nation as an individual, Malhotra has already defeated the two players who finished ahead of him, notching an impressive five-game win against defending national champion Todd Harrity of Princeton. While Malhotra has amassed individual honors — he is a three-time First-Team All-American and a two-time All-NESCAC honoree — his contributions to his team have made him stand out. Trinity head coach Paul Assaiante has described Malhotra as “selfless” and a “far greater leader than a player,” even with all his accomplishments on court. Assaiante says that “while being a ferocious competitor, Vikram carries himself impeccably both on and off the court, and is quick to smile and congratulate an opponent for a good shot.”
Thomas Mattsson (University of Pennsylvania): Mattsson has played a leading role on the Penn team for the past four years. He started playing number one for the Quakers as a freshman and has stayed at the top of the ladder throughout his career at Penn. Despite struggling with injuries during his sophomore year, Mattsson’s drive, passion, and dedication to the sport have never wavered. A two-time national intercollegiate doubles champion, Mattsson was elected captain this season. Penn head coach Jack Wyant notes that as a senior, Mattsson “has scored wins over Williams and F&M number 1s who he lost to last year. Thomas is a gentleman on court and is liked by teammates and competitors.”
John Roberts (Yale University): Roberts has proven time and time again that he can come through for his team on the biggest stages of college squash. This season, Roberts came through with a five-game win to end the Trinity’s unprecedented 252-match winning streak, securing a victory that had alluded other teams and other players for over a decade. Roberts has consistently upheld high standards of sportsmanship in his play, and he gives back to others through the game as a volunteer with Squash Haven, an urban squash program in New Haven. “Even though he is often the person playing the high pressure games for us, those matches never seem to get contentious, as he plays fair and clean,” says Yale head coach Dave Talbott, who also cites Roberts’ fairness as a referee. “He is well loved by all his teammates and coaches, and respected by his opponents. He has been instrumental in helping Yale climb the ranks from sixth in the nation his freshman year, to number one [this season]. He is a selfless teammate who always strives to do right by his teammates.”
Nick Sisodia (Dartmouth College): Dartmouth has been an A Division team during Sisodia’s four years in Hanover, New Hampshire, and he has played number two for the Big Green for most of his collegiate career. A former All-American and All-Ivy player, Dartmouth’s co-captain helped lead his team to 7-5 regular season record this year and another chance to compete for the Potter Cup and the men’s national team title. Dartmouth head coach Hansi Wiens says that Sisodia’s teammates “respected his attitude and commitment throughout the first three years [and] therefore chose him as captain.” Wiens also notes that Sisodia has consistently been willing to help with tournaments and volunteers when extra referees are needed. “He has shown others that it is possible to compete at the highest level of college squash even if you didn’t have the most resources as a junior,” Wiens says. “He has also proved that a student athlete can maintain his grades as well as play at the highest level.”
Thomas Spettigue (Cornell University): Spettigue always plays with heart. Cornell head coach Mark Devoy describes him as a “great kid” who “seems to be able pull games from anywhere, never gives up, never asks for lets and wears knee pads” for when he dives for balls. During his first year on the team, Cornell won the Barnaby Award as the most improve team in men’s college squash. Thanks to Spettigue’s contributions, the Big Red have become a force in the A Division, increasingly putting more pressure on the top teams. Last season, Spettigue went 15-1 for the Big Red at number 3, earning All-Ivy and All-American honors. This season he has played in the top half of Cornell’s ladder, playing as high as number 2. His winning record this season includes victories over players from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.