Sports Briefly: Men's Tennis, Squash, Wrestling, and Swimming & Diving

Men's Tennis

The Columbia men’s tennis team begins its spring season this weekend in Blacksburg, Va. in the Larsen Bowker Invitational. The Light Blue will take on Virginia Tech, Davidson, and Middle Tennessee State University. Senior captain and returning No. 1 singles player Haig Schneiderman, who earned second-team all-Ivy honors the past two seasons, had an all-star performance during fall competition. Schneiderman’s fall highlight came at the 2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships where he upset No. 5 Chase Buchanan of Ohio State to reach the quarterfinals. “He’s slowly becoming one of the best in the Ivy League,” Light Blue head coach Bid Goswami said. Schneiderman, junior Nathaniel Gery, and senior co-captain Rajeev Deb-Sen will lead the team this spring, but the team’s freshmen are expected to make big contributions as well.  Freshman Winston Lin won the B singles draw at the USTA Billie Jean King NTC Men’s College Invitational in the fall over his teammate and fellow freshman Ashok Narayana. As for Columbia’s opponents, Virginia Tech recently earned a No. 34 national ranking in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason poll with two players receiving national singles rankings.  This season, Davidson also boasts two nationally ranked players and it has its first nationally ranked doubles team in school history.  MTSU has big expectations for its spring season as the team looks to defend its Sun Belt tournament title and make another trip to the NCAA regional tournament. The Light Blue will face its opponents with a balanced team dynamic consisting of experienced upperclassmen leaders and young players looking to prove themselves in team competition.

Men's Squash

The Columbia men’s squash team will compete in the 2012 Pioneer Valley Squash Invitational in Amherst, Mass. this weekend. The Lions will play a doubleheader this Sunday, facing No. 22 Amherst at 1 p.m. and No. 21 Wesleyan later in the day. Coming off two victories last weekend against No. 20 Brown and No. 13 Bowdoin, 6-3 and 7-2 respectively, the Light Blue will take a strong stance against the upcoming foes. At last year’s Invitational, the team won all four matches, highlighted by a 5-4 defeat of Wesleyan. Columbia has started the 2011-2012 season strong, moving up four spots in the national rankings to No. 16 with the support of senior players and the energy of the newcomers. Among the freshman crew, No. 1 singles player Ramit Tandon has had a stellar performance, winning most of his games in three straight sets. Following the Pioneer Valley Invitational, the Lions will play host to Middlebury at 5 p.m. and Connecticut College at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28.

Women's Squash

Last week was trying for the women’s squash team, losing to No. 2 Yale and No. 11 Brown. The Light Blue has had rough outings against its Ivy competitors this season. Among the Ancient Eight, Columbia has the lowest ranking at No. 16, but its record does not reflect its efforts to hold its own in the conference. Last weekend, the team put up a fight against Brown, ultimate falling 8-1. The team did find success against No. 19 Bowdoin in a 9-0 win. That success will have to propel them to find wins this weekend at the Amherst Pioneer Valley Invitational. There they look to improve their 3-4, 0-3 Ivy record against No. 13 Mount Holyoke, No. 15 Amherst, and No. 20 Wesleyan. Last year, the Lions had an impressive 5-0 run at the Pioneer Valley Invitational, taking 6-3 and 7-2 wins from Mount Holyoke and Wesleyan, respectively. The No. 16 Lions will need to repeat that type of performance in order to upset Mount Holyoke and Amherst. After this weekend, the Lions will head into a run of six straight home matches.

Wrestling

After falling to Army 19-15 last weekend, the Lions head to Ithaca for the New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championship with high hopes. “I fully expect that our starters will have a really good performance,” Columbia head coach Carl Fronhofer said. “Overall, last weekend was our poorest performance of the year.” The Light Blue will look for a big performance from junior Steve Santos, who has excelled this year in the 149-pound weight class. Senior captains Kyle Gilchrist and Kevin Lester, at 133 and 285 pounds respectively, also look to make key contributions. Lester has rebounded from a rough start to the season, going 3-0 at the Pitt Duals two weeks ago and winning his bout against Army freshman Stephen Snyder last weekend. Senior Eren Civan, who has had trouble readjusting after taking last semester off, could come up big for the Lions at the 165 this weekend. “He’s been kind of up and down,” Fronhofer said. “Historically he’s wrestled really well at this event.” If he performs at his best, Civan has a realistic chance of winning the tournament. The Light Blue will compete in a deep 19-team field that features teams from across the Empire State, including a very talented Cornell squad. The tournament lasts all day on both Saturday and Sunday.

Men's Swimming & Diving

Coming off of a win against the Bucknell Bisons, the men’s swimming and diving team looks for its first win against Cornell in the last eight years on Saturday. Last year, standout senior Adam Powell had a spectacular individual effort, setting a record for the 100-yard freestyle, but even that was not enough to top the Big Red, who won 164-136. Backed by a talented freshman class, the Light Blue is hungry for a second Ivy League victory. Beyond the success of freshmen Alex Ngan, Stanley Wong, and David Jakl at the previous meet, sophomores Harry Stephenson and Dominik Koll also picked up wins in their events. Cornell has been struggling this season, having gone 0-5 in the Ivy League so far, with its only win being a nonconference meet against Colgate on Jan. 14. The Lions next meet will be at Homecoming this weekend. The meet kicks off at 3 p.m. at Uris Pool.

Women's Swimming & Diving

The Columbia women’s swimming and diving team (3-1, 2-1) looks to continue its recent success when it plays host to Cornell (1-5, 0-5 Ivy) on Homecoming Day. The Lions have won their last two meets, beating Penn 247-51 and Wagner 169-88. Cornell has struggled throughout the early part of the season, though the Big Red managed to win its last meet against Colgate. The Lions have been successful against the Big Red in recent history, winning the last five meets between the two schools. Columbia won last year’s match-up in Ithaca 168-132. A variety of swimmers led the Lions as junior Katie Meili won the 200 IM while sophomore Laney Kluge won the 200 backstroke. The Lions will depend on continued strength from Meili and senior Dorothy Baker. Meili was the December Student-Athlete of the Month and won four events in the meet against Harvard and Penn. Baker set a record last month when she finished the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.32. The meet will begin at 11 a.m. in Uris Pool.

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