Young Jeffs Looking to Replace Talented Graduating Class

2008-09 RECAP
The Amherst College men’s squash team took to the court last season ranked 15th in the nation, with 12 returning players from the 2007-08 roster paired with four talented first-years to form a solid squad. Amherst hosted three dual matches before winter break, with a loss at national powerhouse Trinity. The return from interterm was not easy, as Amherst faced the third-, eighth-, fifth-, 14th- and 11th-ranked teams to kick off the second leg of the season. After a Jan. 24 win at Hobart, the Jeffs took part in the NESCAC and Little Three Championships on consecutive weekends.

The team's NESCAC Championship action kicked off against Bowdoin in the quarterfinal round. Amherst pulled out a 5-4 win to move into the semifinal round of play, but ran up against the host and national powerhouse Bantams on their own courts. Trinity ran away with a 9-0 win to reach the title match, sending Amherst to the consolation bracket. Amherst took on Bates in the final match of the weekend, playing for 3rd place. The Bobcats defeated the Lord Jeffs 8-1 in the closing matchup, leaving Amherst standing in 4th place at tournament's close.

At the Little Three Championship, eight of Amherst's wins over Wesleyan came by a 3-0 margin. The men’s match against the Ephs was a much different story, as 10th-ranked Williams had little trouble with its archrival. Amherst wrapped up its season with a 7-2 loss to Saint Lawrence at the CSA Championships, finishing the season ranked 16th in the nation. Coach Robson was extremely proud of his team for remaining competitive despite the loss of key players to injury throughout the regular season and into the national championships.

Amherst loses five exceptional student-athletes to graduation, including each of its top two players from the 2008-09 season. A regular at the top of Amherst’s lineup for four years, Drew Blacker ’09 was the team’s lone player to earn All-NESCAC honors a year ago. Blacker saw immediate success at Amherst when he competed in the CSA Individual Championships as a first-year, and as a senior he won seven matches in the No. 1 spot to earn his All-Conference Second Team nod.

Jerome Giovinazzo ’09 earned six wins last year as the team’s No. 2 player, including an impressive victory against Brown University in the middle of the season. As a co-captain last year, Giovinazzo was named to the 2009 NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team, as well as being awarded the Amherst Men’s Squash W. Wylly Lamar Most Valuable Player Trophy.

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Amherst’s other co-captain last year was Ben Bishop ’09, who alternated between the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. Winning seven matches as a senior, Bishop was the only Amherst player to win at least one game against national powerhouses Penn and Dartmouth. Bishop also won an impressive match against Navy in the CSA Championships.

Brad Corbin ’09 was was awarded the Amherst Men’s Squash Alfred Sadler '62 Most Improved Player award last year. Playing mostly at No. 8 in the lineup, Corbin’s two biggest wins came against Bowdoin in the NESCAC Championships and against Navy in the CSA Championships. Against his Navy opponent, Corbin trailed two games to none but managed to storm from behind for the 3-2 win.

Rounding out last year’s graduates is David Glanton ’09, who was the recipient of the Friends of Amherst Athletics award, an accolade given by the coaches to the senior teammate who played the role of unsung hero.

Leading this year’s team will be the senior trio of Nick Kramer, Lee Banta and Saahil Sud, with Kramer and Banta sharing captain duties. All three players will be looking to play a more prominent role in their final seasons, as Banta and Sud each earned a victory last year in the No. 9 hole.

Highlighting the junior class are Kevin Cecala and Tom Rapisarda. Cecala won five matches while playing anywhere from No. 3 to No. 7 in Amherst’s lineup, with his best win coming against Navy in the CSA Championships in the No. 6 match. Rapisarda also won five matches in the middle of the Jeffs’ lineup, playing mostly at No. 7 in the second leg of the season. Rounding out the junior class are Jacob Glass, who won three matches last year, and Marcelo Cifuentes.

Last years newcomers made an immediate impact on the team, and this season will hope to move up the depth chart as sophomores. Steve Severson was Amherst’s only player to win two matches at the NESCAC Championships, winning once at No. 1 and five times at No. 3 during the year. Severson also received the Amherst Men’s Squash Blair Sadler '62 Sportsmanship Award as a first-year.

Also making an immediate impact last year was Todd Lavine, who began the year at No. 7 in the Amherst lineup but worked his way up to No. 4 by the end of the season, winning six matches along the way. Matt Arnold and Zach Porges also saw significant playing time last year toward the bottom of the Lord Jeff lineup, with Arnold winning two matches before suffering an injury and Porges winning three matches.

Amherst takes a big hit with the loss of its top two players from a year ago, but the Lord Jeffs’ younger members have proven they can be successful at the collegiate level. Amherst welcomes Charles Loesch-Quintin ’13 and Nick Sorrentino ’13 to the squad this season as promising first-years.

The 16th-ranked Lord Jeffs open their season with winnable matches at 24th-ranked Northeastern and 43rd-ranked Vassar, as Amherst will be looking to get off to a 2-0 start before breaking for interterm. Amherst will resume play Jan. 12 with a match at 34th-ranked MIT, but a difficult seven-day stretch will include matches against the seventh-, eighth-, 12th- and 13th-ranked teams in the country. Highlighting the season will be the three-day Amherst Classic (Jan. 22-24), during which the Jeffs will play matches. The Amherst Classic will be followed by the Little Three Championships at Williams and the NESCAC Championships at Trinity, with the season concluding at Yale’s CSA Championships.