Notre Dame coach Geoff McCuen reports the 2011 Jesters Mid America Collegiate Cup.
Chicago, IL — The 2012 Jester’s Collegiate Cup wrapped up early on the afternoon of Sunday, October 28th, with the University of Illinois – Champaign just barely defending their title in a very close match with Northwestern University. Other teams participating (finishing position) in this year’s event were University of Notre Dame (3rd), Duke University (4th), University of Minnesota (5th), and the University of Illinois – Springfield (6th). The University of Chicago also participated as a 5-man “emerging team” in their first ever CSA event. The event was rounded out with an eighth team comprised of Chicago area junior players and members of MetroSquash, who played some very competitive squash against the older teams.
Two nearby teams opened up the event with a match between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Chicago Maroons. Despite having to start the match already down 0-4 because of defaults (they only brought a 5-man team), the Maroons put on a great display of squash and won all five of their played matches, taking the final 5-4. The Maroons only gave up 3 games in the match.
Next up was the Springfield Prairie Stars against the Chicago Juniors/MetroSquash combined team. The youngsters caught the Prairie Stars off guard winning at least one game in every match but one, and won one match outright.
The third and most closely paired match of the night pitted the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Notre Dame started strong, winning the early matches. Minnesota closed the gap, winning three of the top five spots. But this wasn’t enough to dig out of the hole and the Irish took the match 6-3.
Saturday morning opened up with three early matches that also proved to be some of the closest. In the first match involving the Duke Blue Devils, who were playing as a 9-man team, but several players short, Illinois-Springfield put up a good fight. Of the six matches that were non-defaulted, all but one took more than three games to settle, including the match Duke’s John Kemmerer won over UIS’s Jon Cunningham in five games and even extra points.
Minnesota took the match over U of Chicago, but removing the default matches would have given the Maroons a very close win at 3-2.
Two teams with a long history of matches put Notre Dame and Northwestern on the court together. The match was extremely close throughout the morning. As match scores were being reported the scores were tracking even the whole way. Three of the matches were extremely close and needed five games to be decided. At #8, the Wildcat’s Saumya Didwania traded games with the Irish’s Justin Campbell before winning the match. At #5, the Wildcat’s Spencer Powell fought back from an 0-2 deficit to Notre Dame’s Mike Todisco to tie the match. In equally dramatic fashion, Todisco jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Powell went on a run of his own and was serving 9-10 when Todisco finished the match. At #3, the Wildcat’s Karan Viadya took the first game 11-9. Mike O’Neill, of the Fighting Irish, took the next games 11-6, 11-2. The two then traded games, giving O’Neill the match. The team results came down to the final game, but wrapped up quickly with Northwestern taking both the individual and team matches.
Duke and Illinois-Springfield started off the afternoon matches. The Blue Devils’ #1 Mike Koh needed four games to take his match against the Illini’s Anthony Chau to provide Duke with their only win in the match.
Minnesota and Northwestern faced off next in what was mostly a lopsided affair with the Wildcats winning 7-2. Minnesota’s #1 Tarun Nambiar, one of the top players in the event, took his match against Eitezaz Mahmood in three straight games. The most competitive match was at #3 between Minnesota’s Sam Lindsay and Northwestern’s Karan Vaidya that took five games to settle, and gave the Golden Gophers their only other win.
Notre Dame went into their match with University of Chicago up 4-0 by default, and looking for at least one player win to take the match. In one of most hard-fought matches of the weekend, Irish #5 Mike Todisco battled with Maroon #5 Lavine Hemlani through five games. The players were so evenly matched, that the first game was the only one decided in eleven points. In the end it was Todisco who prevailed and with his win, gave Notre Dame the match.
The Illinois teams were up next: UI-Champaign vs UI-Springfield. Unlike the similarity of their namesakes, the teams were not similarly matched. The Fighting Illini gave up only one game and took the match 9-0.
In the final match of pool play on Saturday night, the Duke Blue Devils took on the Chicago Juniors/MetroSquash team. Despite the wide differences in age, there was much less difference in squash ability. Chicago players #2 Regan Allen and #4 Robert Garner both won their matches. But it wasn’t enough to get their team the win. Duke won the match 4-2.
Sunday morning brought the finals with the first, second and third place teams from each pool playing their opposite number from the other pool.
In the match for 5th/6th place, UI-Springfield took on Minnesota. The Prairie Stars started the match up 1-0 by default, but watched their lead slip away quickly as the only played match they won was at #6 when John Tienken (playing on a recently repaired ACL) won over Minnesota’s Max Cowger.
In the match for 3rd/4th place, Notre Dame took on the short-handed Duke team up 3-0 by default. The default matches turned out not to be necessary, as the Irish won five of the six played matches. The two closest matches came at #3 between Irish player Mike O’Neill and #2 Paul Mickan (Irish team captain) both winning in five games over their respective opponents Fred and Nick Grace (identical twins).
The teams all had a great weekend together at the host facility, The University Club of Chicago. In addition to the great squash, everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner of Chicago pizza, overlooking Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, courtesy of The Jesters.