Securing a fifth-place finish at team nationals, the Yale men’s squash team erased memories of a below par 2017-18 campaign with a resurgent 2018-19 season.
The Bulldogs (10–5, 4–3 Ivy) climbed five spots in nationals this year and returned to play in the Potter Cup after a one-year absence. In the past five years, Yale has fluctuated from being national champions in 2016 to falling to 10th in 2018, so the 2018–19 season helped stabilize Yale and set the foundation for a bright future.
“From the very first practice of the year there was a shift in the team mentality towards professionalism. Moving up five spots, from tenth to fifth, is a really big jump in this league,” captain Jay Losty ’19 said. “As for next year, I am really excited to see where the team can go. We have some really solid recruits coming in next year, and I think that if everyone on the team continues to buy into the idea of training with professionalism, the team will do really well next season.”
Even after national championships, Yale continued to shine individually. No. 1 Spencer Lovejoy ’20 bested his opponents eight out of 13 times in the regular season. Six of these wins came in three-game sweeps, and Lovejoy went on to compete in Division A of the College Squash Association’s Individual Championships. In his third trip to the championships, Lovejoy bested his first two opponents — including Columbia’s Velavan Senthilkumar, who was ranked No. 3 in the tournament and who had previously defeated Lovejoy twice in season — before falling to Harvard’s Victor Crouin in the semifinals. With these results, Lovejoy became the first Yale representative to reach the Division A semifinals in 16 years.
No. 2 Nadav Raziel ’22, No. 3 Harrison Gill ’21 and No. 4 Calvin McCafferty ’20 accompanied Lovejoy to the Individual Championships and represented Yale in the B Division. Raziel fell in the semifinals after McCafferty fell in the first round. Gill fell in B Division South’s championship game, marking the end of the team’s postseason play.
The Bulldogs witnessed major growth throughout their season. Yale suffered a deafening 9–0 loss against Columbia in early February but received the opportunity to avenge itself against the Lions in the battle for fifth-place overall in team nationals. In a nail biting afternoon, McCafferty clinched the necessary win in five games to take down Columbia in a massive 5–4 result. As a team that has experienced both glory and disappointment in recent seasons, the resilience demonstrated in this game spoke to the renewed strength of this team.
“We ended the season on a high note, which was great in the moment and beneficial for our progress moving forward,” Gill said. “The win reinforced in us the confidence to continue the training that has greatly improved everyone’s performance this past season.”
The Elis now say goodbye to their three seniors — Losty, Yohan Pandole ’19 and Jonathan Kovac ’19 — whose leadership roles will be filled by the remaining three juniors on the team.
Yale’s fifth-place finish marks a new page for the team. With many of the players expressing individual consistency and the general improvement trend apparent, future success within Yale’s squash program is not far from reach.
“Everyone bought into the themes of professionalism and hard work, and we put in a lot of work as a team together,” Lovejoy said. “I am excited to build on the things that worked for next season and implement some new things to bring us to the next level. If we can do this, there’s no reason why we can’t jump another five spots.”
The Yale men’s squash team has been led by head coach David Talbott since 1983.