After starting their season 6-1, the men’s squash team stumbled during a tough road trip on which they faced two of the top three teams in the country.
It could have been the long Christmas break. It could have been the pure dominance of their post-break opponents. Whatever it was, the Bobcats men’s squash team couldn’t keep their early season winning streak alive.
With a strong freshman class and a core of experienced upperclassmen, the Bates team started off the season in strong fashion at 6-1 before hitting the road for a three-game trip against some of the top competition in the country.
Their first stop was in Boston to face Harvard and Ali Farag, the defending individual national champion. Farag matched up against Bates’ freshman phenom Ahmed Abdel Khalek, handing the first-year his first collegiate loss. Khalek did manage to win a set in the match, despite dropping to 4-1 on the season.
“It was a classy match, I have known Ali for a while,” noted Abdel Khalek. “The crowd was intense, everyone was rooting for both of us,” he added.
Another notable score of the match was sophomore Jason Shrubb, who secured the other set win against Harvard co-captain and senior Jason Michas.
After only Khalek and Shrubb won sets in Cambridge, the team
then hit the road and traveled to Hartford to face perennial national champion Trinity.
Although Khalek won an impressive point at the No. 1 spot in five sets (8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6), the rest of the match was a dominating Bantam victory. Bates sophomore Andy Cannon also won a set for the Bobcats and nearly tied his match at 2-2, but eventually fell 3-1.
“The atmosphere was much different [at Trinity] than Harvard,” noted Abdel Khalek. “Completely opposite.”
The team finished up the road trip in Williamstown, Massachusetts against Williams. Khalek was once again the lone Bates player in the way of a shutout, as he defeated Trinity’s No. 1 Nick Marks and improved to 6-1 in his young career.
Even though the Bobcats lost 8-1, they played many close matches.
Senior R.J. Keating played a tough five-set match to Greaves-Tunnell of Williams, and fellow senior David Born took a narrow five-set setback in the exhibition match. Andy Cannon came from behind in his match to take a 2-1 lead, but lost in five.
The Bobcats return home for their home opener against Amherst on the 15th followed by a 9 AM match against Cornell on January 19th.