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Season Recap: Fourth-Place Finish at CSA Nationals Caps 2008-09 Campaign for Men's Squash

An up-and-down season that started with the Crimson ranked as the No. 4 team in the nation ended with junior Colin West coming just short of a national final appearance in the CSA Individual Championships. In between, Harvard lost to national champion Trinity in the semifinal of the CSA National Team Championship and finished 7-6 overall.

The Season
No. 4 Harvard began the year with three straight wins at home, starting with a 9-0 win over Brown Nov. 21 and a 8-1 decision against Williams Nov. 23. Harvard swept all nine matches against the No. 14 Bears and six of the nine against the No. 10 Ephs. Harvard followed that up with a 5-4 win against No. 9 Dartmouth at Barnaby Courts Dec. 3 as the Crimson took the top three spots as well as No. 5 and 9. West continued his hot start as he outscored his three opponents, 81-2.

Harvard dropped its first match of the season with a 6-3 defeat at the hands of No. 6 Cornell, Dec. 6 in Ithaca, N.Y. The Crimson responded later that day with a 7-2 win over No. 8 Western Ontario, as Harvard won the first seven spots. Harvard completed the 2008 calendar year with another win at home, a 5-4 decision to No. 5 Rochester. With the team down by one, 4-3, West and senior Verdi DiSesa clinched the last two matches for the win, with DiSesa rallying after dropping the first two games.

After a nearly two-month break from action, Harvard, now ranked fifth, jumped right back into the thick of things, hosting perennial No. 1 Trinity Feb. 4 at home. West, ranked No. 4 in the nation, defeated No. 2 Gustav Detter of Trinity, 3-1, at the No. 1 slot, but the Bantams swept seven of the other eight matches for a 8-1 win.

Harvard had little time to lick its wounds, as the team headed to No. 7 Penn and No. 2 Princeton Feb. 7 and 8. The Crimson again found itself down, this time 4-2 against the Quakers, but West, sophomore Eliot Buchanan and junior Franklin Cohen rattled off wins in the last three matches for the victory. Besides West's win at No. 1, Harvard also grabbed victories in the No. 4-7 slots. The Crimson, though, struggled against the Tigers, dropping all nine matches by 3-0 scores.

Harvard then finished the regular season with a 5-4 loss to No. 3 Yale, as West again swept his opponent at No. 1, while senior Niko Hrdy, sophomore J. Reed Endresen and sophomore Richard Hill also captured wins.

Harvard began the CSA National Team Championships by exacting revenge against Cornell, defeating the No. 4 Big Red, 5-4, Feb. 20. Hrdy, Buchanan, Hill and senior Ned Reeves each won their respective matches, while West's win at No. 1 clinched the victory. Harvard moved to the semifinal match, but unfortunately for the Crimson it was against No. 1 Trinity. The Bantams proved why they are the 12-time defending national champion, sweeping Harvard, 9-0, including seven matches that went 3-0.

Facing No. 6 Rochester for the second time during the season in the third-place match, Harvard ran out of gas as the Crimson came up short, 7-2. Hill and West each won, 3-0, but the Yellowjackets were victorious in the other seven matches of the day.

Wrapping up the season at the CSA Individual Championships Feb. 27-March 1, the Crimson sent eight players to the tournament. West advanced to the quarterfinals of the Potter Cup, the main draw, after the first day. West defeated Jim Bristow of Rochester, 9-7, 9-2, 9-2, in the quarterfinal round during day 2 and then faced No. 2 Mauricio Sanchez of Princeton in the semifinal round. After Sanchez defeated West, 9-1, 9-2, 9-1, earlier in the season, West was more than prepared the second time around. He captured the first two games, 9-3, 9-6, but was unable to sustain the momentum as Mauricio won the last three games, 9-1, 9-2, 9-4.

West and Hill were the two players in double figure wins for the Crimson, as West compiled a 14-3 record, including 11-2 at No. 1, while Hill went 10-3. Hrdy also posted a winning record, going 8-7 throughout the year. DiSesa, with six wins, and Cohen, with five, also made significant contributions during the 2008-09 Crimson campaign.

The Awards
West was selected to the CSA All-America team for the second year in a row and to the All-Ivy League team, the third-straight year he earned the honor.

The Stats
West, Hill and Hrdy all posted winning records for the Crimson. West led the team with a 14-3 overall record, including 11-2 at No. 1. Hill notched a 10-3 mark and a perfect 3-0 at No. 5. Hrdy went 8-7 on the year and 2-0 at No. 4. DiSesa, with six wins, and Cohen, with five, also made significant contributions throughout the year. Harvard posted a collective 63-78 record throughout the year.

Next Year
The Crimson will look to make up for the loss of DiSesa, Hrdy and senior Ned Reeves as seven juniors will step into the senior leadership role next year: West, Cohen, Alistair Smith, Peter Tilton, Alex Lavoie, Udaibir Banga and Alec Brown.