AMHERST, Mass. – The 2017-18 Amherst men's squash team returns just one senior to their roster but Head Coach Peter Robson is excited about a talented crop of newcomers that he thinks can help the Mammoths take a big step forward this season.
"We want to be in the top sixteen teams at the end of the year. That's our goal, and I think we can get there with this year's squad," said Robson, entering his 31st season as the men's coach at Amherst. "We need to beat teams like Williams, Middlebury, and Brown, who we've lost to in recent years, if we want to be in the second division."
Robson hopes that the additions of a talented freshman class, including Terrence Wang, who was ranked as high as fifth when he played at Groton School, should boost the top of the lineup that struggled to compete against top Internationals from other schools.
Harith Khawaja '19 picked up four wins at the top spot last year and competed at CSA National Individual Championships. He will figure back into the mix when he returns from this semester abroad in France and joins Cameron Bahadori '18, who went 9-11 last year at the #4 spot, in a veteran presence on the roster that also includes David Merkel '19, who was solid with an 11-8 record, mostly at #3.
Freshman Rob Parker comes to Amherst, where he has planned on attending since his freshman year. It took Parker one year later to get to the Pioneer Valley, as he took a year at Deerfield Academy to recover from back surgery. Merkel is also a year older than his class after taking a gap year before becoming a Mammoth.
"The strength of this team is going to be our depth," said Robson of the Mammoths, who are ranked #24 in the country by the College Squash Association (CSA). "We only graduated two players and got five really good kids back. All of them are going to be in the top ten on the team, so that's going to be good."
Robson also allows players to play challenge matches throughout the year, and he expects that there will be some shuffling of the lineup as players build skills and confidence.
The Mammoths kick off their season with a pair of home matches this weekend, beginning on Friday night when they host fellow NESCAC foe Tufts University at Davenport Courts. The action continues on Saturday with a 1:00 pm match against Boston University.