If you were near Jadwin Gym Saturday afternoon, you might have noticed that throngs of people were heading into the building. If you were on the balcony, you might have noticed that you kept hearing noise coming from somewhere below.
Jadwin Gym hosted a wild scene Saturday, when Trinity edged Princeton 5-4 to win its 199th straight match. The gallery on C level was jammed with fans from both schools to the point that seeing the action on any of the three courts was nearly impossible.
And that was nothing compared to what awaits. Princeton and Trinity will be back at it this coming weekend as Princeton hosts the CSA national men's team championships, and the two will be favored to meet in a rematch for the title Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the women were up in Cambridge last weekend for the Howe Cup, which is the women's national team championships. Princeton won for the third straight time, edging host Harvard 5-4 as Amanda Seibert rallied to win the final two games of her match at No. 1.
The championship, which gives Princeton a team or individual national champion for the 23rd straight year, was well-earned even before Sunday's thriller. The Tigers had to overcome a huge challenge from Trinity in the semis, winning 5-4 after Kaitlin Sennatt fought off a match ball and went on to win.
If you shrug all this off as "well it's only squash," TigerBlog says you couldn't be more wrong. Princeton had 38 varsity teams, and few are set up for drama the way squash is.
For starters, the spectators are right on top of the players, who are out on a court one-on-one with nowhere to hide. Also, you need to get five wins, and the point at No. 9 counts just as much as the one at No. 1.
Mostly, though, you can't run out the clock in squash. You have to win every point, and the momentum can - and does - change so quickly. Time and again, matches that seemed to be over in the third or fourth game head to a dramatic fifth. Time and again, games that seem over at 8-2 are reversed.
The success of the Princeton teams - and more importantly the desire of coaches Bob Callahan and Gail Ramsay to help their sport expand on a more egalitarian level - has led to a huge jump in lunchtime squash in the Jadwin. The exercise factor, coupled with the competitive nature of the game, makes it perfect for players on all levels throughout the athletic department.
TigerBlog has seen all of the novices play for the first time. They come out cocky, talking about how great they were at racquetball, and then they can't believe how much they get wiped out chasing the little black ball all over. Football coaches. Assistant women's soccer coach Scott Champ. Administrators. They're all drifting from lunchtime basketball to try squash.
But that's for during the week. For this weekend, the level of play goes all the way up to the top floor. It'll be a zoo on C-level.
It's worth the trip.