Northampton, MA — The finalists for the 2015 Men’s College Squash Association’s Skillman Award have been released: Samuel Kang (Princeton University), Andrew McGuinness (United States Naval Academy), and Ramit Tandon (Columbia University).
The Skillman Award is given annually to a senior men’s squash player who has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship during his entire college career. This award is named for former Yale coach John Skillman, who led the Bulldogs to multiple national titles in over 40 years leading the team.
Players are evaluated based on their on-court poise and demeanor, skill level and ability in the game of squash, team play, contributions to intercollegiate squash, leadership, and cooperation with players, coaches, and tournament officials. The Executive Committee select the winner at the National Team Championships.
Here are this year’s finalists ((listed alphabetically; click on the athletes’ names below to see photos and videos of them playing):
Samuel Kang (Princeton University): Samuel Kang, an economics major from Singapore, has been instrumental in Princeton’s success. During his freshman year, he helped Princeton win the Potter Cup, ending Trinity’s 13-season reign on the national title. During his junior year, he guided an injury-plagued Tigers squad to the Hoehn Cup (B Division) title. The Princeton captain has been a First Team All-American (2013 and 2014), an Honorable Mention All-American (2012), a member of the All-Ivy League team (2013 and 2014), an Academic All-Ivy League team member (2013 and 2014), and a CSA Scholar Athlete (2014). Kang also helped Princeton secure the Ivy League title (2012) and be twice honored with the Sloane Award (2012 and 2014). In doubles squash, he twice paired with Maria Elena Ubina to record the National Mixed Intercollegiate Doubles title (2014 and 2015). Princeton coach Sean Wilkinson says, “Sam is a rare breed of student-athlete: He is fiercely competitive, but conducts himself with the utmost integrity for the game and his opponents. I have never seen Sam flustered on court, no matter the outcome of a rally or match. In a season that has been emotionally difficult for Princeton, Sam has stood up and been counted. He will never shy away from a challenge and will always look to keep improving himself and those around him. He has been an absolute joy to coach.”
Andrew McGuinness (United States Naval Academy): Andrew McGuinness, an oceanography major hailing from Pennsylvania, has played in the top-two positions for the Naval Academy throughout his four years. McGuinness, Navy’s captain, has assisted Navy in being a staple in the Hoehn Cup (B Division). A skilled doubles player, he was an intercollegiate doubles finalist in 2012-2013 and a member of the championship pair in 2013-2014. McGuinness has volunteered throughout his collegiate tenure with Squash Smarts and Squash Wise. In the 58 years of Navy’s prestigious USS Barb Squash Racquets Perpetual Trophy, McGuiness is just the third player to win the event three times. Craig Dawson, Navy’s coach, states that “Andrew always played the same way: with respect for his opponent, great competitiveness, and a smile and sincere handshake at the end of the match. The best example of Andrew under pressure was the Bates/Navy match in the team championships in 2014. Playing Ahmed Hatata, the score was 8 all in the fifth. McGuinness hit a drop for a winner but overruled the referee to say the ball was down. He went on to lose the match 8-11 in the fifth.” Upon graduation, McGuinness will serve in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer.
Ramit Tandon (Columbia University): Since arriving at Columbia four years ago, Ramit Tandon, a statistics major from India, has been one of the best players in college squash. He has compiled a 55-5 individual record, which includes a 24-4 Ivy League record. He has been a First Team All-American (2012, 2013, and 2014), a member of the All-Ivy League team (2012, 2013, and 2014), and was named the 2012 co-Ivy League Rookie of the Year. His tenure has coincided with the growth of Columbia squash, which has included a jump into the top division of college squash and the Barnaby Award (2012). Individually, Tandon, Columbia’s co-captian the past two seasons, has been a finalist, semifinalist, and quarterfinalist in the Pool Trophy (men’s individual championship competition). “Ramit has been one of the major influences in our team’s improvement over the last four years. He has been the perfect team member throughout his time at Columbia. He leads by example, works hard, and supports team goals ahead of his own. His conduct on and off court has always been exceptional and through all of his success, he has remained incredibly humble,” adds Columbia coach Jacques Swanepoel.