WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - After achieving a national ranking of 20th in the country last season, the Ephs look ready to challenge for an even higher position this year, with a team defined by an impressive depth in quality and a strong incoming freshman class. Under the leadership of senior co-captains Carl Shuck, Will Means, and Claude Smith, the Ephs look poised to get underway in what looks like one of the most promising seasons in the program's recent history.
One of the key challenges for the Ephs this year will be to replace a pair of the previous season's starting seniors and co-captains, Ben Eisenberg (#9), and reigning NESCAC Player of the Year John Fitzgerald (#1). Thankfully for the Ephs, the expected starting lineup features a great blend of experience and new talent that should more than fill the gaps left by the past year's graduating class.
Despite a lot of movement in the lineup in preseason, the Ephs' starting squad features a lot of familiar faces that have worked hard in the offseason to improve. Having competed at the #2 spot for the Ephs towards the end of the previous season, junior Wyatt Khosrowshahi is expected to spearhead the Ephs' charge at the top spot of the lineup to start this season. Khosrowshahi is expected to be joined by fellow junior AJ Solecki and his cousin sophomore Jacob Bassil to round out the top three. Cousins Solecki and Bassil both make the jump from middle to top court after some impressive offseason work, and the Ephs hope the chemistry between the two will translate into points on the board.
The depth of the Ephs' squad is demonstrated by the level of strength and experience in the middle of the lineup. Veteran All-NESCAC honorees Will Means and Carl Shuck, both seniors this year, will anchor the heart of the mens' lineup. The Ephs' will hope Means and Shuck can bring the sort of solid play and performance under pressure that has been typical of the pair throughout their Williams careers. The duo will be joined by top recruit Udai Pal, who looks to be an exciting addition for the Ephs and has already heightened the level of the team in training.
The team's bottom court remains slightly more up in the air as a result of early injuries and challenge matches still to be played. Freshman Charles "Chas" Merrill, another exciting addition to the squad, looks to have cemented the #7 spot and will look to become a leader in the back half of the lineup. In the early absence of former starters and senior veterans Claude Smith and David Pincus, each struggling with injuries, freshman Will Comyns and junior Tucker van Eck will look to fill the gap at the #8 and #9 spots– though van Eck continues to struggle with niggling injuries of his own. Smith, Pincus, and van Eck will each look to get themselves right before the season gets up and running, though sophomore walk-on Nilay Neelaveni remains ready to deputize where needed. The Ephs will also welcome back junior Julius Dodson for the latter half of the season after he returns from his semester abroad in London.
The team's coaches and captains demonstrate an excitement for the season ahead. Coach Blair Dils had this to say in anticipation of the team's first set of matches: "I've been very impressed with the quality of play from the top half of our lineup so early in the season. We'll need a few players to return from injuries before we can showcase our team's full depth, but we'll be more than ready to go for our very tough first weekend at Yale."
Junior Wyatt Khosrowshahi added, "This is without a doubt the most professional and talented team we have had going into a season in my time at Williams. We've got a great group of guys who are hungry to compete, and the belief is there. I think we've got a really cohesive group who are ready to fight when that first whistle blows, and I'm excited to see where we can go this year."
The Ephs look forward to another week of hard training before kicking off the season with a tough weekend in New Haven at Yale's Brady Squash Center. The men will face Yale at 6pm on Friday, November 22, before facing Dickinson on Saturday and rounding out the weekend with matchups against Conn College and Hamilton on Sunday.