By Brett Erasmus
The College Squash Association National Championships were decided last weekend. Trinity claimed their 12th consecutive title by beating Yale by a winning margin of 6-3. In the process they made all the news channels (even ESPN) but, unfortunately, not for the right reasons..
Trinity number 1 Baset Chaudhry’s 3-0 win over Ken Chan of Yale gave the Bantams their 5th win of the day and clinched them the title. The real news is this though: apparently there was a verbal barrage between the players on court, as well as from the supporters (again!? really!?). The players were even staring each other down between points as their tempers flared.
Then things got totally out of hand in the end. As the final point was won Chaudhry ended up physically confronting his opponent in a massively aggressive way (I don't how else to describe this, you just need to see the video, look in the blog below). And then, instead of composing himself after the initial celebration and shaking his opponent's hand, he blocked the poor guy from coming off court. Ouch. It was certainly not the most humble celebration we've ever seen. Chaudhry's antics have stirred up an incredible amount of publicity and they do not portray squash as a game played by, how shall I say this, athletes that embody the Olympic spirit. Quite the opposite actually.
The 6-3 margin was the closest of the season for Trinity. In fact, all of the match results in the finals pretty much went according to expectations based on the players’ individual rankings, so the outcome was no real surprise. Trinity had already beaten Yale convincingly earlier this season.
Still, this was quite a relief for the Trinity team (especially their number one player apparently) as all the pressure is squarely on them. They successfully continue a legacy that started 14 years ago when head coach Paul Assaiante recruited his first really good foreign player (from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa).
Trinity's match winning streak is now at 224 games. This is the longest unbeaten record of any US collegiate sports team ever. But the other schools have been catching up over the years and seem close to dethroning them of their squash supremacy. If Trinity finally decide to cap the number of foreign players they bring in from now on (they may not have an option) the balance of power will certainly shift more quickly.
On a happier note, 8 of the best professional players in the world are playing in a tournament in Westchester starting next Monday. Check out http://www.prosquashtour.org/ for all the details. If you do attend next week please note there is only money on the line, not pride, so the celebrations there should be significantly more subdued.