Hanover, NH — Osama Khalifa of Columbia defeated Mario Yanez of Rochester 3-0 to win the 2017 Pool Trophy and the men’s individual national title.
Both players have had decorated collegiate squash careers. Khalifa, a junior, is a two-time First Team All American, the 2015 Ivy League rookie of the year, and the 2016 Ivy League Player of the Year. Yanez, a senior, is a three-time First Team All-American and three-time All Liberty League player.
Khalifa reached the finals of the 2015 tournament, when he was a first-year player. In that match, Khalifa went out to a two-game lead before losing in five to Ahmed Abdel Khalek of Bates. In 2016, he played with an injured back and lost in the quarterfinals to Yanez, who subsequently lost in the semifinals to teammate Ryosei Kobayashi,
This year, Khalifa came into the tournament as the top seed. His path to the final included wins over Bransten Ming (Drexel), Ahmed Hatata (Bates), and Thoboki Mohohlo (Trinity). To reach the final, Yanez defeated TJ Dembinski (Yale), upset second-seed Mohamed El Gawarhy (St. Lawrence), and beat Gawahry’s teammate Ahmed Bayoumy.
In the first game of today’s final, Khalifa built up an 8-0 lead before Yanez posted his sole point of the game. The Columbia junior put on a dominating performance, winning the game 11-1.
The second game was closer. While the Rochester senior showed some fatigue from the previous night’s semifinal, Khalifa played with ease. The second game went 11-6 to Khalifa.
At 4-9 in the third, Yanez dove and crashed into the back corner, trying everything to get points. He couldn’t stop Khalifa, who took the game and match 11-5.
Khalifa’s win represents the first-ever national squash championship for Columbia. At Columbia he is coached by Jacques Swanepoel, the Kenneth W. Torrey Head Coach of Squash, and assistants Joanne Schickerling and Alister Walker.