The Bates men’s and women’s squash teams competed in the NESCAC Tournament this past weekend. Both team’s performances showed why Bates continues to be considered one of the elite squash programs in the country.
The action at the Davenport Squash Courts in Amherst, Massachusetts began on Saturday morning. In the quarterfinals, the no. 16 ranked Men’s team beat no. 26 ranked Bowdoin 9-0. This shutout score means that each of the nine Bobcat starters defeated their Bowdoin counterparts; only one of these matches went longer than three games. That is what you call domination!
Reeling off of their convincing victory, the men faced No. 17 Williams later on Saturday. This match would feature a little more competition, but the Bobcats still won handily. The men only took losses at the five and eight positions, cruising to a 7-2 decision and extending their win streak to 10 matches.
Meanwhile, the no. 15 ranked women’s team began their NESCAC tournament by beating no. 18 Amherst 7-2 in the quarterfinals. Especially impressive were Charlotte Cabot ‘17 and Katie Bull ‘19 who both finished off their opponents in three straight games.
They next faced up against the team that no one wants to see on their schedule, the Trinity Bantams of Hartford, CT. In both men’s and women’s squash, Trinity is a perennial powerhouse. The Bantams have won the NESCAC tournament every year it has existed. In fact, ESPN recently ranked Trinity squash as one of the top 10 sports dynasties of all time. Bates men’s and women’s Coach Pat Cosquer ‘97 attributed Trinity’s preeminence to institutional factors. “The school and the admissions department have really decided to focus on squash, so they bring in players who have professional experience.” He said. The women’s team fought hard against the tough opponent, but eventually fell 9-0 to Trinity.
By Saturday evening, the stage was set for a rematch of last year’s men’s NESCAC championship final between Bates and Trinity, scheduled to take place Sunday at 3. The Bobcats put up a good fight against no. 2 ranked Trinity, but were not able to get over the hump. The Bantams would eventually win the match 8-1. Nevertheless, it was a great second place finish for the Bobcats. The team was paced by superstar Ahmed Hatata ‘17, who secured the lone Bates win at the no. 1 spot. Hatata is known as a Trinity killer, because he has beaten Bantam opponents in each of the last three NESCAC tournaments; which is not an easy feat against such great talent, and is a testament to Hatata’s playing ability.
The women competed in the third place game on Sunday against Middlebury. Back in January, Bates lost to Middlebury in a close match that came down to the wire, and they hadn’t beaten the Panthers since the 2012-13 season. “One of the motivations for the women to win was to get revenge against Middlebury,” said Cosquer Monday afternoon. “They were one of the three teams that had beaten us earlier in the year and that give us the extra edge.”
And revenge is exactly what Bates got. With the two teams deadlocked at 4-4, Vicky Arjoon ‘17 and her opponent found themselves tied at two games a piece in their own match. Essentially, this meant that whoever won the 5th and final game would both win the match for herself and her team. “It was very dramatic and intense, like a sudden death goal in soccer or an overtime touchdown in football,” Coach Cosquer explained about the final match. “Every single person in the facility, parents, kids, coaches, were watching as Vicky performed.” Although this was Arjoon’s first time in a situation like this, she proved to have ice in her veins, winning the game 11-7.
The Bates squash teams will both compete in the National Championships next.