As many of you may not know, squash is not only a vegetable but also a sport! Squash is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and is gaining popularity, especially in the Northeast. Squash is sometimes referred to as “Physical Chess.” It is the healthiest sport in the world, per Forbes, but it also requires tremendous concentration and focus. Players are constantly trying to outthink their opponents during competition. While squash is a bellicose battle between two players, I have learned from experience that the toughest battle is often the mental one. Having played for 5 years, I have learned that even a slight lapse in focus during matches can cost a game and motivate an opponent. It’s a tricky battle between the mind and the racket.
The team started off strong with a 5-2 win over traditional rivals Kent, a victory that was extremely satisfying. However, the boys were let down a little, as they had to play their four hardest matches in a row. They practiced every day, focusing on perfecting groundstrokes and improving the weaker areas of their game. With unrelenting practice, the team earned huge wins over Kingswood Oxford, Pomfret, and Suffield. These victories gave the team a positive mentality going into the grand finale of the season: the 2017 US SQUASH High School Team Championships.
The first matchup in the Team Nationals was against Canisius Gold, a school up north in Buffalo, NY. Key players stepped up and played their best squash. Tarquin Hanson had an intense “cat and mouse” 5-game match. He ultimately won 12-10 in the deciding game. Ben Sukboontip also had a tremendous performance. Ben’s match was a crucial one as it decided who would advance to the next round.
The next matchup was against Phillips Exeter, one of the team’s biggest rivals. This pivotal match was a true team effort. Ben Sukboontip’s match was astounding, as he came back from 0-2 down in games to win the match in 5! With the momentum from the quarters, the team was ready to face its foes in the semifinals.
They came into the semifinals pumped up and ready to beat their enemies Westminster. Warm Ayanaputra played amazing squash against Westy’s #2, dispatching him in 3 games. Stanley Wang won an epic 5-game encounter at the #7 spot, while Ben Sukboontip and Will Daniel also won their encounters.
Thanks to a strong snow storm that weekend, the finals were postponed, giving the players a rest to recuperate for the finals against Trinity-Pawling.
The team left everything on the court during the finals. They were all focused and wanted to bring the trophy home for the team. The deciding match between Kevin Xavier and Trinity Pawling’s #4 was the last chance. Kevin has always been a talented player, and being #1 varsity tennis gave him the shot making skills which allowed him to win the match. After 3 days of endless, exhausting squash, we were finally USSQUASH National Champions!
Going into the season they all had their goals. They had great depth of athletes who pushed themselves in practice everyday. Sportsmanship was a key trait that carried them to the successes of the season. Without the support from all the and positive attitudes of all team members, they wouldn’t have been able to come this far. This season was great for the team and the squash program. Senior Co-captain Warm Ayanaputra said, “I knew this team would do something special after watching everyone lay itw on the line in practice and tough games.” Winning Division 4 National Championships and getting 3rd in the New Englands was an outstanding feat by a school that neither recruits nor spends resources on the team. Next year, they hope to retain their National Title and earn 1st in New England’s!