An excellent day of semifinals followed an action-packed first day at the 2020 College Squash Association (CSA) National Collegiate Individual Championships in Philadelphia, PA. After a dominant team season, three Harvard players clinched national championship finals berths, with one hometown hope beating out a fourth Harvard finals candidate.
The first semifinal of the day featured two sophomores, Cornell’s Sivasangari Subramaniam and Harvard’s Hana Moataz, in a close contest throughout. Subramaniam, in her second semifinal in as many years, was eager to book another place in the final, but Moataz had other ideas. In a very closely contested match where the lead never reached more than a few points, it was Moataz who captured the critical points when it counted. Subramaniam pushed the score to extra points in all three games, but Moataz closed the door each time, earning a place in tomorrow’s final with a 3-0 win.
With the win, Moataz knew she would be facing a teammate in the final, but the remaining question was who it would be. Top seed and defending champion Gina Kennedy stepped on court to face the fourth seed, Amelia Henley. Kennedy wasted little time getting into the groove against her teammate, capturing the first game 11-4. Her momentum continued through the second and third games, never taking her foot off the pedal, ultimately earning a smooth 3-0 win.
It is the first time since 2006 that the Ramsay Cup final will feature players representing the same institution. That season, Harvard teammates Lily Lorentzen and Kyla Grigg met in the final, with Lorentzen emerging victorious.
Soon after the Ramsay Division semifinals ended, the first of two Pool Division semifinal matches commenced. The top seeds had advanced in the bottom half of the draw, pitting 2-seed Miko Aijanen of Trinity College against the third seed Marwan Tarek from Harvard. In a fantastic display of the caliber and character of college squash players, Aijanen and Tarek exhibited a full arsenal of shots and athleticism. Tarek jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, but the second game was as even as it could get. Back and forth it went into extra points, with Tarek ultimately emerging with a crucial 15-13 win to go up 2-0.
Not to be deterred, Aijanen returned to court with extra focus, keeping things close until he could pull away for an 11-8 win in game three. Game four proved to be yet another epic battle, with both players feeling the effects of their third match in two days. Tarek edged ahead late in the game, ultimately taking a lead he would not relinquish on his way to an 11-8 win and berth in tomorrow’s finals.
In the fourth semifinal of the day, Tarek’s Harvard teammate Saadeldin Abouaish prepared to face off against hometown hope Aly Abou El Einen from Penn. With both top seeds out of the top half of the draw, the fight for the remaining finals berth was wide open. Abou El Einen was the first to strike with a quick first-game win. With the game plan working and feeling comfortable on his home court, the Penn Quaker extended his lead to two games with an 11-5 second game win. Although Abouaish kept the third game closer, Abou El Einen was not to be denied, winning the third game and gatecrashing what would have been an all-Harvard finals day.
Abou El Einen is the first Penn player to reach the men’s national championship final since 1986, when Stewart Ballard played in the final against Harvard’s Kenton Jernigan.
The players competing for Second Team All-American status during tomorrow’s Holleran and Molloy Division finals are as follows:
Holleran North: Vanessa Raj (Trinity College) vs. Cassandra Ong (Stanford University)
Holleran South: Eleonore Evans (Harvard University) vs. Anna Hughes (Drexel University)
Holleran East: Andrea Toth (Princeton University) vs. Caroline Spahr (Princeton University)
Holleran West: Emme Leonard (Princeton University) vs. Hannah Craig (Harvard University)
Molloy North: Andrew Lee (Trinity College) vs. Enzo Corigliano (St. Lawrence University)
Molloy South: Sanjay Jeeva (Franklin & Marshall College) vs. Yash Barghava (University of Pennsylvania)
Molloy East: George Crowne (Harvard University) vs. Dillon Huang (University of Pennsylvania)
Molloy West: Harrison Gill (Yale University) vs. Aly Eltokhy (Trinity College)