Men’s Squash on Familiar Ground
It is early in the season and the Trinity men’s
squash team is in its rightful place atop the intercollegiate squash
world. After seven straight national championships and a winning
streak that dates back to 1998, it would be easy to think that the
Bantams are in a comfort zone. One might even assume, given the fact
that this team has never lost a college match, that they’ve grown
complacent and consider themselves inherently entitled to the lofty
heights they have reached.
Talk to Head Coach Paul Assaiante for a few
minutes, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that nothing could
be further from the truth. “Our guys have a great attitude,” he
says. “They respect the game and the players who came before them.
They realize that they’re part of a legacy and it means a lot to
them. It’s something special and they know it. They also know it can
end. I don’t think any of us takes winning for granted.”
The Bantams will surely feel the loss of
several key players who graduated in 2005, including four-year
All-American and two-time national singles champion Bernardo Samper.
This year’s team has 5 All-Americans among its 18 returning players.
Junior Shaun Johnstone, a two-time All-American, is ranked fourth in
the nation by the College Squash Association. Four other Bantams,
senior tri-captain Yvain Badan, senior tri-captain Jacques Swanepoel,
junior Eduardo Pereira, and junior Sahil Vora, are ranked in the top
Men’s Squash Coach Paul Assaiante throws out the
ceremonial first pitch before a 2003 Boston Red Sox
Assaiante is entering his twelfth season at
Trinity and has so far accumulated a mind-boggling record of 183-10.
The Bantams’ current streak is 130 straight wins—the longest winning
streak in all of intercollegiate athletics. After suffering a stroke
last June, the coach is not a hundred percent but says that he feels
pretty good. He credits his players with aiding his return to
health. “The boys have been my saving grace,” he says. “I’m excited
every day to see my teams. They definitely helped me get through the
tough times.” And as for the stroke, he says, “I really think it was
a stroke of good luck. It brought me back to focusing on what’s
important.” In addition to squash, Assaiante has also coached the
men’s tennis team for 9 of the last 11 years, posting an impressive
Of course, there is a sense of obligation that
goes with all the accolades. “There will come a day,” he says, “20
or 30 years from now, when I’m sitting on a porch somewhere and I’ll
be able to look back and say, ‘that was pretty cool.’ But not now.
The minute I take my eye off the target, I let these kids down and
they need me to be as sharp as I can be every day. They deserve my
Key matches this season include a match at Yale
on January 25, Princeton at home on February 1, and Harvard at home
on February 4. Both the men’s and women’s squash teams play their
home matches at the state-of-the-art George A. Kellner ’64 Squash
Center in the Ferris Athletic Center.
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