Winter Preview: Squash Looks to Repeat Stellar 2018–19 Campaign


Fordham Squash hopes that its historic 2018–19 season was just a precursor for more to come in the next few years. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Jimmy Sullivan, Sports Editor

There are tough acts to follow, and then there is following a feat that no other Fordham team has achieved in recent memory. That is the task that awaits Fordham Squash this fall.

Last year’s team was one of the best in the history of the university’s program, winning 20 games and most importantly, winning the Chaffee Cup at the Collegiate Squash Association Championships for the first time in many years. After several attempts at earning the cup, last year’s team was able to finish the job, and this year’s team will look to stay on top with the help of new additions and those returning from last year’s team.

“The boys have been training very hard this season,” head coach Sahel Anwar said. “Though we haven’t played a match, the boys look stronger from last season already. Fitness, both indoor and outdoor, has really helped us out in addition to all the on-court training.”

The Rams will not have too many losses to endure, with only three seniors having graduated after the 2018–19 season. One of them was Justin Esposito, who was one of three 20-game winners for Anwar’s team last season. The other two, junior Justin Deckoff and sophomore Jack Reed, are both back this season. The other departures from last year’s team were senior Will Beatrez, who won six of his 10 matches last season, and Will Pantle, who went 6–1 over seven matches.

“Reed has really come into the season looking strong and good shape,” Anwar said. “He was a candidate for team MVP last year, but it looks like he is the early favorite to be the MVP of the team. I expect him to continue his solid year performance into his second year.”

To replace these significant losses, several freshmen have entered the fray for the Rams. One of them is Jacob Bennett, a former Utah state champion in racquetball who stands at 6’5”. Another is Justin George, an intriguing prospect from San Jose, Calif. who has extensive experience on the club squash circuit. The third is Caleb Schumaker, who hails from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., just a half-hour away from Fordham.

Anwar has been impressed with all three of the newcomers, but specifically cited one.

“Justin George from California has really impressed me,” he said. “He comes to practice everyday determined to train hard, and I usually find him on the courts during non-practice time hitting on the court. He is going to really help our team this year with this type of dedication.”

Besides these new players, there is also plenty of talent returning for the Rams this season. Of the seven double-digit winners in 2018–19, six are returning to a tremendously talented roster. In addition to Reed and Deckoff, junior Griffin Fitzgerald, sophomore Dylan Panichello, sophomore Patrick Rodden and junior Tommy White are returning after all of them won at least 12 games last season.

The Rams will open their season this weekend at the Vassar Round Robin tournament. It starts on Friday, Nov. 2 against Vassar and Lafayette. How the team starts its season could be a significant indicator of how its season goes, as evidenced by last year’s team sweeping the same tournament en route to its historic year.

Fordham Squash had a historic 2018–19 season, and while it maybe impossible to follow up, this year’s version of the Rams will look to make its own mark and legacy.