The Bates men’s Squash team finished up conference play last weekend by participating in the NESCAC Tournament, hosted by Bowdoin. The Bobcats went in to the tournament as the number 3 seed in the NESCAC, behind just Trinity and Williams. This set up a meeting with number 6 Colby in the opening round – a team Bates narrowly defeated a few weeks prior.
Sophomore Jesper Phillips swept Colby’s Alex Spafford in the number 2 spot, earning a big win for Bates after losing the 1 spot. Junior Omar Attia and senior Garon Rothenberg delivered, each with 3-1 victories of their own out of the number 4 and 6 spots, respectively.
Sophomore Peter Koenigsbauer and first-year Sultan Hashmi came through with huge victories out of the 8 and 9 spots, securing the win for Bates and sending them to a semifinal meeting with number 2 seeded Williams later that same day.
Bates and Williams met in Lewiston in early January and the Bobcats battled to a tough 5-4 loss in several very tightly contested matches. This gave hope for Bates as they prepared to take on the Ephs in the postseason, but unfortunately that hope did not last very long. The Bobcats were stifled by Williams at every spot, losing 9-0 over all and being sent to a consolation game the next day.
Rothenberg and fellow senior Graham Bonnell each fought to five games with their Williams counterparts out of the 1 and 6 spots, but there were few highlights elsewhere for Bates in this one. This set up a meeting in the third place game with a Middlebury squad who fell at the hands of the Bobcats in another close 5-4 matchup just a few weeks earlier.
Bates came into the game as the 19th ranked team in the nation and 3rd in the NESCAC, while the Panthers were ranked 21st in the country and 5th in the NESCAC. All signs pointed towards this game being a very close one, but unfortunately the Bobcats lost their second straight game, this time 7-2 overall.
The only wins came from senior David Quintero out of the number 9 spot and Garon Rothenberg yet again out of the number 6 spot. Omar Attia and Sultan Hashmi each battled to five games at the number 4 and number 8 spots, but ultimately they each came up a bit short.
By the end of the tournament, the Trinity Bantams had captured their 14th consecutive NESCAC crown, taking down number 2 seeded Williams 7-2. Bates finished 4th after Middlebury, followed by Bowdoin, Tufts, Colby, Amherst, Hamilton, Conn College, and Wesleyan at 5-11 respectively.
Fortunately for Bates, they currently sit at 20th in the nation according to the College Squash Association and they will appear in the CSA Team Nationals hosted by Harvard, Tufts, and MIT this weekend. The University of Pennsylvania will also host the College Squash Association Individual Nationals the following weekend.
Last year at the CSA Team Nationals, Bates was entered into the Summers Cup, also known as the “C Division” in college squash. They lost their opening round match 6-3 to MIT, sending them to the consolation bracket, but picked up consecutive wins over Tufts and Amherst to grab the consolation bracket title and finish in 5th place overall.
The Bobcats will likely be sent to the Summers Cup again this year at CSA Nationals, where they won the trophy in 2016. Bates took home the Conroy Cup or “D Division” championship back in 1998 and in 2008 they won the Hoehn Cup or “B Division” championship. Bates has never won a Potter Cup or “A Division” National Championship.
With 5 of the Bobcats 12 players being seniors, the team would love to finish out the year on a positive note and provide a happy ending for their careers. Confidence should be high given that the team has a plethora of experience after participating in the same event just a year ago. It all starts on Friday at Harvard.