Nov. 2, 2006
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy squash team is coming off a 19-8 season that featured a 15th-place finish at the College Squash Association Team Championship a year ago. The Mids will look to improve upon their championship finish, while trying to achieve a program first - stringing together four-consecutive seasons of 18-plus wins, when they open up the 2006-07 campaign this weekend in San Francisco. Navy faces Cal in its opener on Friday at 4:00 pm before taking on Stanford Saturday at 9:00 am.
"The Navy squash team is excited to open the 2006-07 season with a road trip to the Bay Area," said seventh-year Navy head coach Craig Dawson. "Due to some last minute lineup changes, we will have a very young team, three plebes and five sophomores, in the starting 10. However, everyone has been training hard and the matches will be a good test of the depth of our team. Cal and Stanford both have good teams, so we will have to overcome first match butterflies and play our game. As coach, I am excited about this year's team and I am eager to watch us perform in competition."
Team captain Tucker George (West Hartford, Conn.) will lead the charge for the Midshipmen, as he earned the No. 1 spot on the ladder after claiming the Barb Trophy for the third-consecutive year. Just a junior, George has played the No. 1 spot on the ladder in each of his first two seasons and is coming off a tremendous experience having played at the World Collegiate Squash Championship in August and September. He finished last season with a 15-5 record and was ranked No. 47 in the country. Despite team losses to Bowdoin during the regular season and CSA Team Championship, George twice defeated Matthew Dresher. He also earned a gutsy 3-2 win over Brown's Breck Bailey in the CSA Team Championship, coming from two games behind. He closed out the 2005-06 campaign by competing in the Potter Division at the CSA Individual Championship which is made up of the top 32 players in the country vying for All-America recognition.
Freshman Nils Mattsson (Spring House, Pa.) is one of two freshmen who will be featured on the season-opening ladder. Mattsson, who battled George in the title game of the Barb Trophy, is a product of The Lawrenceville School who also turned out Navy junior squash standout Jeff Sawin (Haverford, Pa.). Mattsson was a member of the 2004, '05, and '06 squash teams that were crowned National Champions and served as team captain his senior season. He will start the 06-07 campaign No. 2 on the ladder.
Alastair Smith (Hillsborough, N.J.), who will be the No. 3 Navy player, was sensational in his first season with the Midshipmen and has a bright future ahead of him. He posted a 19-4 record, playing the majoring of his matches at the No. 3 and 4 positions. He won eight of his nine matches that went four-plus games, including three five-gamers. Smith earned wins over his Bowdoin and Tufts foes at the CSA Team Championship and came back from two games down to defeat Tufts' Kris Leetavorn, 8-10, 4-9, 9-1, 9-6, 9-4.
A year ago, Sawin, a junior, recorded 19 wins at the No. 2 spot on the ladder and owns a 36-16 career record. He opened his sophomore campaign by winning his first seven matches and ended it in similar fashion, claiming victories in six of his last eight matches, including a pair of wins over his Bowdoin and Tufts competitors at the CSA Team Championship. Sawin produced a 1-2 record at the CSA Individual Championship where he defeated Columbia's Nik Trikha in the consolation round, 3-0, and ended the season ranked 83rd. Sawin will play the No. 4 position on the ladder.
Playing the No. 5 slot is second-year standout Michael John Beautyman Jr. (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) who saw action in 21 matches last season and posted a 12-9 record. He played six of the seven spots on the ladder, playing primarily the No. 8 slot. He earned a hard-fought 3-2 win over Chris Devereaux of Tufts in the CSA Team Championship, helping lead the Mids to a 7-2 team win.
The second Navy freshman on the ladder is New York native Ben Mantica (Binghamton, N.Y.). Mantica was a four-year letterwinner in tennis at Binghamton High School where he garnered All-Metro recognition last spring. Mantica has positioned himself as the Mids' No. 6 player.
Sophomore Christopher Zipf (Gladwyne, Pa.), who is No. 7 on the ladder, earned a varsity letter as a rookie after posting a 12-11 record among the five different positions on the ladder. He opened the season by winning his first four matches, including a 3-1 decision over Northwestern's Nathan Caro in his collegiate debut and went on to gain confidence over the rest of the season. Earlier this fall, Zipf won the 4.5 men's division at the 2006 Sport and Health SquashEmpower Hardball Tournament in Washington D.C.
The lone senior member of the varsity squash team is Dan Hellier (Modesto, Calif.), who picked up a squash racquet when he came to the Academy and has fought his way to the No. 8 spot on this year's ladder. Last year, he recorded an 8-2 record, including wins in his first five matches.
The ninth player on the ladder is sophomore Will Pappas (Philadelphia, Pa.), who, in his first season at the Academy, turned in an 8-5 record. He played seven of his 13 matches at the No. 9 spot and all of his matches were three-game decisions.
Hailing from Charleston, W.Va., sophomore Allen Hartley played his way onto the varsity roster after spending his rookie campaign with the JV squad.
Junior Brian Hamilton (Lake Forest, Ill.) did not compete in the Barb Tournament due to an injury, but he is sure to factor into the lineup at some point during the season. Last year he proved to be the Mids' most improved player, turning in a team-best 21 wins in his first full season playing with the varsity squad. He played six of the nine slots on the ladder, and finished the season as the Mids' No. 9 spot where he won his final nine matches of the year. He won his first eight matches of the season, including a tough 3-2 decision over John Bradley of Denison after Bradley built a 2-0 lead. He earned wins in all three of the Mids' College Squash Association Team Championship matches, including perhaps his biggest win in a 3-1 decision over Brown's Mark Goldberg in the opening round.
Sophomore Alastair Smith is slated to play the No. 3 slot on the ladder.