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Club squash looks to compete

From recreational club to a potentially national team, the club squash team has shifted from a mere gathering of recreationals on Mondays and Thursdays to a mixture of both serious and less serious players.

Rohan Lal ’17, the team president, makes it clear, though, the five-year-old team is “open to anyone—beginners or experienced.” The all-inclusive club has shifted the focus of its practices recently. In the past, practices have consisted of players showing up and “just hitting around.” In its shift to becoming a more competitive team, the team looks to host more structured matches. “Instead of just hitting around for fun which we still do and still enjoy, we have more drills and conditioning and more matches.”

Joe McManus, who also trains with the Tufts varsity squash teams, coaches Brandeis. McManus is experienced in coaching nationally competitive teams.

In pursuit of a national bid, the team must play a certain number of matches against teams from other schools. The club has never reached this minimum in years past, but this year, the club is being more aggressive in scheduling matches with schools around Boston.

“In the past we’ve struggled with that because it’s hard to plan matches with other schools, and it’s hard to find enough people who want to compete. This year is looking good. We have enough competitive players, and a lot of people are joining and competing,” Lal explained.

The team would like to see nine competitive players at each match in the lineup. In order to play the match without a forfeit, each match requires at least seven players intending to compete.

Brandeis club squash is beginning its third year in the College Squash Association (CSA), an organization that ranks players and teams, regulates match play, hosts individual and team tournaments and records team histories. Brandeis is an emerging team, along with many other teams in the same early stages like Babson College, Boston University, Boston College and others.

Recently Brandeis logged its first match win of the season against Babson College on Saturday, Oct. 15. The home match featured nine competitive Brandeis players, taking the win with 6-3 against the other CSA-emerging team. “I guess we see Babson as a rival in a sense that they are also a relatively new club team with similar goals as us,” Lal said about the Saturday match.

In the past, the squash team has traveled to Minneapolis, MN, to compete in round-robin match play. This year the team was unable to fit the trip into their schedule this year, but they believe their schedule will take them to New York for a couple matches.

Lal looks to keep the match schedule filled throughout the entire year in hopes of achieving the minimum required for competing in nationals, which occurs in February at Harvard University.

The team’s short-term primary goal is to reach the CSA national tournament, but in the long run, Lal and the rest of the squash team look to build a lasting program that endures past his graduation. “Hopefully we can compete at nationals and then with that exposure, my goal is that in a few years even after I’ve left, it can be taken as a very serious sport at Brandeis, maybe become a varsity sport if people show enough interest.”

Lal encourages anybody who is interested to show up to practice. The club offers equipment and court time to its members. “We want to appeal to everyone, so if you’re competitive you can play and compete in matches, or if you just want to hit around every once in a while … that’s cool too!”

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