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Club Sports: Squash uses complex to host teams

Michael Todisco | Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This summer, Notre Dame installed a new squash complex in the Joyce Center, and the Irish are wasting little time in putting the facilities to use, hosting Western Michigan and Purdue at the Notre Dame Fall Invitational this Saturday.

Notre Dame competed two weekends ago at the Midwest Round Robin at Kenyon College. The Irish defeated Illinois-Springfield and fell to Kenyon, Illinois and Denison. Six of the nine players who competed for the Irish — who were No. 56 in the College Squash Association (CSA) pre-season rankings — were competing in their first collegiate match.

They were competing against much more experienced teams in No. 24 Denison, No. 24 Kenyon and No. 45 Illinois.

Irish coach Geoff McCuen said the Irish should fare better this weekend against the Boilermakers and Broncos.

“We have a chance of beating both teams,” McCuen said.

Irish captain Kenny Schlax stressed that this tournament will be important for the Irish.

“We need to improve our CSA standing to have a good seed at nationals,” he said. “Last year Purdue was ranked ten spots above us, so a win against Purdue will give us a significant boost in terms of looking forward for the season.”

Schlax said that Notre Dame has a rivalry with both Purdue and Western Michigan.

“Notre Dame and Purdue are two of only a few squash teams in the area, so we see them a lot in competition and winning against them is huge,” Schlax said. “As with Purdue, we have a friendly rivalry against Western. We helped to get them started and it’s good to see that they have grown from just a few people playing squash.”

Both McCuen and Schlax said they hope to see the Irish fans come out and support the squash team this Saturday.

“It would be fantastic if we could put some of the enthusiasm and excitement into the JACC courts like we put into the football stadium,” McCuen said. “At some Ivy League schools [that do not have] our football tradition, squash crowds are often filled with face-painted, pennant waving, screaming fans.”

Schlax had a similar message to the Irish faithful.

“The team is really excited to host our only match on campus this year,” he said. “We hope that we get some campus support. Many people don’t know what squash is. Come to the match and find out.”

The Irish open Saturday at 9 a.m. against Western Michigan and continue at 2 p.m. against Purdue. All matches will be held at the JACC courts, located between gates 1 and 10.