NEW YORK - The Columbia men's squash team will compete in its first varsity matches this weekend when the Lions travel to Washington, D.C. to face Georgetown and George Washington on Saturday, November 20.  This year's squad features an even split of newcomers and returners from last year's club team, all anxious and excited to start this new program off on the right foot.

LOOKING TO BUILD
Last season as a club, the Lions finished ranked 35th in the nation with a 7-9 overall record after placing third in the Chaffee Cup (E Division).  Under first-year head coach Jacques Swanepoel, The Columbia Squash Alumni and Friends Head Coach of Squash, the Lions will aim to finish in the "C" Division by finishing in the top-24 nationally.  Additionally, the Lions hope to have their top-three players invited to the Individual National Championship at the end of the season.

THIS SEASON'S LINEUP
The 2010-11 edition of the men's squash team features a good mix of returning players from the club team last year, in addition to some new first-years and recruits.

A pair of transfer students from New York University, Graham Miao and Tony Zou, will open the season at #1 and #2 for Columbia.  Miao is a talented player from Shanghai, who brings a wealth of experience to the team having played most of his junior squash in the United States.  Zou is also a talented player with an incredible work ethic who advanced to the Molloy Cup ("B" Division) consolation semi-finals a year ago.

Playing #3 is Clayton Dahlman, a senior captain for the Lions.  Dahlman played #1 for the team last year in addition to serving as a captain.  His game has improved greatly in the off-season as a result of being pushed by his new teammates.

Two first-years will play #4 and #5.  Martin Goman comes to Morningside Heights after a successful high school campaign for St. Luke's in Connecticut last season.  Theo Buchsbaum played #1 for a talented Lawrenceville team as a senior.

The newest addition to the roster is Andrew Tan, a skilled player from Singapore.  Tan played his junior squash in Singapore before taking a two-year hiatus from the sport to take part in military services.

Playing in the #7 slot is Alec Goldberg, the third first-year on the team.  Goldberg, who played for Ramaz Upper School in the city, is a very gifted athlete who continues to improve each and every day.

The two other senior captains, Dan Gentile and Zach Ali, will play #8 and #9 this year.  Both players bring experience having been a part of the club program since arriving at Columbia.

The final spot is held by Anchit Nayar, a junior from Mumbai, India, who also played #10 for the club team last year.

Adding depth to the Lions' roster are Alex Park, Brandon Thompson, Thomas Brosens, and Marvin So.

CAPTAINS
Ali, Dahlman and Gentile, the team's three seniors, will serve as team captains for the 2010-11 season.  "The captains have been really great," said Swanepoel.  "The three of them are very enthusiastic about the program, and have helped make the transition to varsity go smoothly by taking on a lot of extra responsibilities."

THE SCHEDULE
Columbia will open its inaugural season in Washington, D.C. when it faces George Washington and Georgetown on November 20.  The Lions will not return to action for a few months, and will open the new year at the Pioneer Valley Invitational, January 14-16.  Columbia will then welcome Navy in its home opener on Friday, January 21, before traveling upstate to square off against Northeastern and Vassar on January 29.

The team will return to Manhattan to host back-to-back home matches against Middlebury and Haverford on January 30 and February 6, respectively.  The team will have one last tune up at Vassar Round Robin on February 12 before Men's Nationals on February 25-27 in Cambridge, Mass., and Individual National Championships on March 4-6 in Hanover, N.H.