December 21, 2007
Shane Slater thrives under new coach

Vincentian squash player Shane Slater is off to a promising start after completing the 2007 portion of the 2007-2008 Collegiate Squash Season.{{more}}

In his 3rd year with the Franklin and Marshall College Diplomats, he has recorded a 4-3 start to the season. Much of his success may be attributed to the arrival of superstar coach Australian-born Scotsman John White (replacing John Stallings), a former World #1 and current world #10.

Introducing a new level of competitiveness within the team, Slater has seen action between #2-4 spots. In the first weekend (November 3-4), Slater competed as the team’s no. 2 against Vassar College and George Washington University. Playing in the highest seed of his collegiate career, he overcame first-match jitters to overcome India’s Anshuman Beri (Vassar) 9/5, 9/6, 9/10, 6/9, 9/5, followed by a 9/3, 9/6, 9/4 win over American Jarryd Commerford (George Washington).

In the next match against the Hobart College Statesmen, Slater claimed another easy victory over Craig Chircop (USA) 9/3, 9/3, 9/2 at the no.3 spot. Following this, he moved back up to no. 2 and crushed Haverford’s Alex Salton (USA) 9/1, 9/3, 9/0. After compiling a 4-0 record (all four wins were 9-0), the Diplomats then prepared for their first real tests, facing a trio of Ivy League powerhouses, with Slater playing as no. 4. In the Dartmouth match, Slater faced a familiar foe in Bermuda’s Michael Shrubb, a former Caribbean Under 19 Champion.

In what could have been the biggest win of his entire career, he was narrowly edged 7/9, 7/9, 9/4, 5/9, as the Diplomats lost 2-7 to the Big Green. Next up were the 4th-ranked Yale Bulldogs, with Slater facing another Indian in Naishadh Lalwani, a member of Yale’s highly touted freshman class. Despite being the heavy underdog, Slater raced to a 2-0 lead, before Lalwani fought back with every shot in his armory to triumph 6/9, 5/9, 9/6, 9/2, 9/0.

In an expectedly difficult weekend (December 1-2), the Diplomats followed up their 0-9 loss to the Bulldogs with a match against the mighty Princeton Tigers (ranked no. 2 in the nation). Unfortunately, another 0-9 loss was in store, as Slater faced his sternest test yet in a 1/9, 1/9, 0/9 loss to Santiago Imberton of El Salvador. With the first semester completed, the #16 Diplomats return early from winter break on January 5 to prepare for a showdown with #11 Amherst College on January 12.

Under the watchful eyes of their new head coach, the Diplomats will be hoping to spring an upset against Amherst as part of their quest to win the Hoehn Division title (to finish 9th in the final rankings) at the College Squash National Men’s Team Championships in February.