Though both the men’s and women’s squash teams won their quarterfinal matchups in the NESCAC tournament, both teams were not able to get by the powerhouse Trinity Bantams, who are ranked number one in the country.
In their opener on Saturday, the 18th nationally ranked men’s team mauled Colby, winning 8-1. Across the board, Bates dominated their CBB rivals. Junior Ahmed Abdel Khalek (11-7, 11-7, 11-1) and sophomore Ahmed Hatata (11-7, 11-1, 11-3) at the number one and two seeds kept their undefeated records intact.
While Trinity squash is accustomed to beating any opponent in front of them, the Bantams’ top players were unable to vanquish Khalek and Hatata. Abdel Khalek won in straight games, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6. For Hatata, the undefeated streak was in serious jeopardy, as he fell behind two games to none. Still, Hatata was not willing to allow any blemishes on his 11-0 record, and seized the next three sets to ensure that he won his first dozen matches of the season.
The rest of the Bates squad did not have nearly as much success against Trinity. In a dominant display, Trinity beat every Bobcat seeded three through nine in straight games.
After that disappointment, Bates regrouped well the following day, taking third place with a 6-3 victory over Middlebury, who were seeded second in the tournament. Unsurprisingly, Abdel Khalek and Hatata kept up their winning ways. The Bobcats also got wins from senior captain Andy Cannon at number four, junior Caran Arora at number six, and sophomores Spencer Burt and Carlos Ames at seeds eight and nine respectively.
The Bates women finished one spot below the men due to their 7-2 defeat in the third place match, where they also encountered Middlebury. In order to get to that point, Bates first had to beat Amherst in the quarterfinals, which they did by a 6-3 tally. Seniors Nessrine Ariffin, Myriam Kelly, and Lesea Bourke won their matchups at number one, two, and three respectively.
Against top-ranked Trinity, the 16th nationally ranked Bobcats were massive underdogs. Ultimately, a 9-0 defeat versus Trinity is nothing to be ashamed of given their elite stature in the world of college squash. To wrap up their tournament, Bates faced Middlebury on Sunday. Arrifin at the one seed and junior Lauren Williams at the seven seed were the lone winners for Bates.
As a collective unit, overcoming Trinity is frankly almost impossible. That said, Bates men’s and women’s performed well against some challenging competition at the NESCAC tournament.