Upon returning to competition following the holiday break, men’s squash fell short of extending its undefeated record into the new year, dropping Wednesday’s match 6-3 to the defending national champion and No. 1 Trinity.
Columbia’s (5-1) three victories, posted by first-year Velavan Senthilkumar, sophomore Robin Mann, and junior Adham Madi, playing in the 3, 6, and 7 spots, respectively, were not enough to overcome Trinity’s (4-0) consistent play throughout the day.
The Lions struggled to shift the momentum following early losses. Senior Seif Attia was defeated in straight sets by Trinity’s Thoboki Mohohlo 9-11, 5-11, 6-11 from the 2 position. Junior Carter Robitaille similarly struggled to claim a set, losing 9-11, 10-12, 9-11 to Trinity’s Michael Craig in the 4 spot.
While Mann’s shutout victory (11-8, 11-9, 11-9) over Trinity’s Omar Allaudin from the 6 position notched a point for the Lions, a subsequent loss by first-year Krish Kapur to Trinity’s Aryaman Adik 6-11, 4-11, 8-11 in the 8 spot put Columbia behind 1-3 in even rounds of play.
Columbia improved its record in the second half of the match, with Senthilkumar and Madi posting key victories. Standout first-year Senthilkumar vanquished Trinity’s Rick Penders 11-7, 11-8, 12-10 in the 3 spot to improve his personal record to 4-0.
Madi delivered an impressive breakout performance in his first match of the season, defeating Trinity’s James Evans in fours sets, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 from the 7 position. Madi dealt the senior Evans the first loss of his collegiate career.
Madi’s individual victory, however, was not enough to secure a team win for Columbia after critical losses by senior captains Osama Khalifa and Arhum Saleem.
Last year’s Individual National Champion Khalifa lost in four sets to Trinity’s Kush Kumar 11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 4-11 in the 1 position, shattering his consecutive shutout record on the season.
Ahum Saleem similarly experienced his first defeat of the season to Trinity’s Ziad Sakr playing in the 5 spot. Saleem fell to Sakr in straight sets, 6-11, 5-11, 9-11, clinching the match for the Bantams.
Looking ahead, the No. 4 Lions will face off against No. 10 Dartmouth and No. 2 Harvard in consecutive matches on Saturday and Sunday.
While Columbia has bested Dartmouth in their last four encounters, Harvard has proved to be a consistently strong opponent, and the Lions have yet to defeat the Crimson in regular and postseason matches.
Following last year’s 5-4 loss to Harvard during the College Squash Association Team Championships, the Lions look to secure the Ivy League title this season after finishing in second place behind Harvard last year. Having defeated the Crimson during the Ivy Scrimmages in the fall, the Lions are confident in their ability to do so again this weekend.
Columbia will take on Dartmouth at 11 a.m. on Saturday, followed by Harvard at 12 p.m. on Sunday, with both matches at the SL Green StreetSquash Center.