March 5, 2005
Julian Illingworth won two matches to advance to the championship match of the 2005 CSA Individual tournament at Dartmouth's Berry Center.
The second match of the day, the evening semifinal against third seed Bernardo Samper was the most difficult. Illingworth took the opening game 9-6 before falling 9-4 in the second. Yale's No. 1 player bounced back on center court with a 9-7 win in the third game and then took the first three points of the fourth before Samper retired from the match with an injury.
Illingworth, trying to become the seventh Yale player to capture the collegiate national championship and the first since Victor Wagner in 1982, will face Yasser El-Halaby of Princeton, the No. 1 seed and two-time defending CSA champion in the 1 p.m. finale.
Illingworth overcame a 4-0 deficit with nine straight points en route to a 3-0 (9-2, 9-2) win over Dartmouth senior Ryan Lonegon, the seventh seed, before a large and mostly pro-Big Green crowd on center court in the afternoon quarterfinal.
The two players delicately traded backhanded rails during the first two games as Illingworth, the junior No. 2 seed from Portland, Ore., and Lonegon combined on one rally for 140 strokes.
Illingworth, who never seems to get tired, exuded the confidence of a hungry lion invading a den of sleeping zebras. He easily brushed off the negative screams from the crowd and gave Dartmouth's top player a convincing beating.
The Bulldog star opened a small wound on his right knee that required a break to bandage it between the second and third games. Lonegon, gave a confirming nod to a teammate who suggested that the Yale player was taking more time than needed. Illingworth, sporting a Dartmouth green bandage, came out and won the last game faster than the previous two.
"I was a little nervous in the first game [against Donegon] so I hit just one drop shot," said Illingworth, who lost to him as a freshman but won the last three encounters. "I was able to control the "T" and the pace of the rallies. I like having the crowd, it's more fun and it energizes you."
For all the scores from the 2005 CSA Individual Champions, go to www.squashtalk.com.
Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director