Engineers Grab First Victory in Weekend Split

Jan. 22, 2007

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - Bolstered by the dominant effort of junior Kunal Dusad, MIT's squash team picked up its first victory of the season on Saturday afternoon, defeating Vassar College by a score of 6-3. The match was the Engineers' second of the day, after they had fallen to host Wesleyan University, 8-1, earlier in the afternoon.

Wesleyan defeated Vassar, 9-0, in the weekend's other match.

The split pushed Tech's record to 1-6 on the campaign, while Wesleyan raised its ledger to 3-5 with the sweep. Vassar fell to 3-7 with the losses.

The Engineers opened the weekend against Wesleyan, picking up their only win when an unfortunate injury forced the Cardinals' Benjie Messinger-Barnes to forfeit his match to Dusad. Freshman Andrew Yoon was very impressive in his bid from the No. 3 spot, falling by the smallest of margins in the first two games, 7-9, 8-10, before powering through the third game, 9-0. However, the first three matches proved to be just a bit too draining, as the Hong Kong, China, native fell in the fourth game, 2-9.

Senior Jehan DeFonseka and sophomore Saad Zaheer also pushed their Wesleyan counterparts to the limit, while head coach Orla O'Doherty reserved specific praise for sophomore Balaji Sridhar, who won his opening game, 10-8, before falling valiantly in the final three.

"Balaji had just returned from an ankle injury and was in quite a bit of pain in the fourth game," O'Doherty said. "He battled through, however, and played a long, tough match."

Tech took the confidence gained in its opening match and transformed it into results in its final contest, a 6-3 victory over Vassar.

MIT dropped matches from the top three spots against the Brewers, but notched victories from positions four through nine. Junior Jonathan Fu and freshman George Pratt, along with Zaheer, Dusad, Sridhar and deFonseka, all swept their matches in the minimum three games. Dusad was particularly lethal, disposing of his opponent in fine fashion, 9-1, 9-0, 9-1.

The three matches between MIT, Vassar and Wesleyan marked the first occasion in which the only three female-coached men's teams in the league competed against each other.

In exhibition action, Tech's only female member, freshman Ekavali Mishra, defeated Wesleyan's No. 4 women's competitor in five games.

Next up for MIT will be the U.S. Naval Academy, which the Engineers will face in New Haven, Conn., on Friday, Jan. 26, at 5:00 p.m. Tech will then return home to host Fordham University the following afternoon at 2:00 p.m.