Dubliner David Ryan is the new US national college squash champion, despite only earning his place at the highest grade shortly before the tournament.
Ryan is in the final year of an economics degree at Harvard University, who recruited him after seeing his prowess representing Sutton Squash Club as a junior.
He defeated top seed Kush Kumar of Trinity to win the Pool Trophy at the CSA Individual National Championship in Washington DC on Sunday.
"It still hasn't sunk in," Ryan told RTÉ Sport, speaking in between mid-term exams in Economics and Ancient Egypt.
"It's something I've been dreaming about since I first arrived at college. First of all, I was thinking about winning the team championships, we were just pipped at the post last week against Trinity.
"This is something I've been training for for years now and it's great that the hard work is all paying off."
🏆 Congratulations to the #CSANationals18 Individual Champions, Reeham Sedky @PennSquash and David Ryan @harvardsquash! 👏— College Squash (@CollegeSquash) March 5, 2018
📷: @mtbello pic.twitter.com/RHMV7TiYRD
The 21-year-old had won all nine of his previous games playing at the number four slot for Harvard this year but wasn't initially ranked high enough to qualify for the A Division.
"That's the funny part about it," he said. "I played number four for Harvard all year. Three guys played ahead of me, all really keen players who want to go pro after college. We were touch and go all season and I just ended up in the fourth spot.
"I barely got into the tournament. I was seeded no 18 and only the top 16 get into the main draw.
"On Monday and Tuesday a couple of guys dropped out due to injuries picked up in the team championships so I snuck in in the No 14 spot.
"I was definitely a big underdog, even just going in to my first-round match. As much as I turn up at every tournament thinking I can win it, that wasn't really in the picture for me when I was travelling.
"In my first match, I took on the number one from Penn (third seed Andrew Douglas) and played some of the best squash I've ever played.
"Something clicked this weekend. My body was great, my mind was in a great spot and I was just up for the fight."
Ryan then beat sixth seed Alvin Heuman of Dartmouth and tenth seed Timothy Brownell, Harvard's second-ranked player, before facing No 1 Kumar, who was ranked in the top 100 on the men's professional world tour prior to representing Trinity.
In the decider, Ryan took the first two games 11-4 and 11-8, before Kumar battled back 11-7 and 11-3 to force a deciding fifth game. Ryan clawed his way back from a 10-8 deficit in the fifth to win the game 12-10.
Saving two match balls @harvardsquash Ryan wins the Potter Cup Individual title over top seed @BantamSports Kumar! #CSANationals18— College Squash (@CollegeSquash) March 4, 2018
 David Ryan 3-2  Kush Kumar: 11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 3-11, 12-10 pic.twitter.com/qw5gGOZ1k0
"I knew I was going to give it my all and make myself hard to beat but that it would be a massive upset if I won," the Irishman said.
"I can't believe I pulled it off in the end. I guess a little bit of nerves might have got to him and I took advantage of it.
"I played really good squash all the way through but I was struggling physically when it got to the fourth game. The match overall was close to two hours and by that time my legs were pretty drained.
"But after the fourth game I was talking to my coach and a couple of players and they told me they could I see I was getting pretty tired but it was my last ever game so leave it all out there.
"I got a bit of a second wind in the middle of the fifth game but it was all mental grind in the last few points."
"It's difficult because it's your dream versus financial stability"
Despite his unexpected success, Ryan plans to take a job with Ernst and Young in New York rather than pursue a pro squash career.
"It was always my dream growing up to go professional. Even college, I had to be coerced into a little because I was so dedicated to squash.
"I've played a few pro tournaments throughout my college career but I want to stay in America and that requires getting a job and going through the visa process.
"It's difficult because it's your dream versus financial stability. Days like this prove to me that I could have the potential to do well in the tour.
"(But) at the moment there's just not quite enough money in squash to be able to fund myself and travel around while trying to make a dent in the tour. It really takes a lot of time, money and luck.
"It doesn't work out for a lot of people. I've had trouble with my body over the years, a couple of knee surgeries, so it would be a struggle if I went pro and encountered those problems."
Ryan still has ambitions to play in the Irish Open and represent his country.
"Squash isn't over for me for sure. I want to keep up the standard.
"I've been away for the last four years and between exams and general schoolwork I haven't been able to come back and have a go at it but it's something I'd love to do in the future.
"The same with the Irish national team. I haven't been able to travel back and play tournaments and earn a spot. But they're goals for my squash career in the future."