JCT #1 was a huge success for the Squash Tigers team. The headlines were from Alex who made the final in the BU15, Claire who won her way through to the semi-finals of the GU15 and JJ who cruised to 5th place in the BU13. That doesn’t tell the entire story however, with the Squash Tigers crew representing well up and down the divisions… read on for the breakdown…
The 2022 Frank Millet Junior Championships, the first JCT of the 2022/23 season, were conducted this past weekend in Allston, Massachusetts on the campuses of MIT and Harvard. For those of you a little newer to the US Squash world, the Junior Championship Tour (JCT) Tournaments are the highest level of event available to junior players and draw the very top of each of the ten age groups. There are 5 JCT’s per season and along with the US Junior Open and Nationals form the pillars of junior competition in the country. US Squash does a magnificent job of conducting the Junior Championship Tour and having coached at all five events each year since 2010, I can tell you that the standard of play has improved event by event and year by year. This event was no exception.
As an aside, while coaching at MIT I had the great pleasure of catching up with some of my former pupils who are now playing for Coach Lincou in the MIT varsity team, so when you see a couple of selfies in the pictures with “juniors” who look a little on the more mature side, that will explain that… On a serious note, it was great to see Mitav (who missed the photo!) Tom and Nikhil, never not proud of them and great role models for any junior players.
Back to the JCT and in what I somewhat picturesquely termed, the “Battle for New Jersey”, Colton beat Alex 3/1 in a high standard BU15 final. Alex and Colton were very familiar with each other, having played on numerous occasions in US Squash events and shared the court extensively during summer training at Squash Tigers. There were few secrets and the match was one of the best I have seen in many years, with Colton thoroughly deserving his victory.
The path to the final could not have been more different for each boy however, as Colton moved through the draw relatively untroubled, as the #2 seed. Alex, however, carved a path through the draw highlighted by an epic five game victory over the #1 seed Jack Elriani in the semi final. Jack is a former National Champion, rated almost 0.2 ahead of Alex and expertly coached by his father, one of the most respected coaches in the US. The kid’s good, very good and that semi-final on the glass court at Harvard was one for the ages. I’m sure Jack will be back with a vengeance. Overall, congratulations to Colton and Alex and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for both, especially with the rest of the age group working hard and heavily motivated to chase them down in the next JCT in Philly. No time to stop the grind now!
In any other event, the column inches would have been for Claire, making her first ever semi-final of a JCT in the GU15. Nice guys don’t finish last, apparently they make the semi-finals, and Claire deserved the great tournament she had. No-one works harder than Miss and after a summer spent refining her, game it was fantastic to see it come to fruition on the court. Congratulations!
Fresh from his appearance against Coach Jamie in our inaugural Rehearsal Event last weekend, JJ cruised to a 5th place in the BU13. Although losing out to the eventual winner in the quarter finals, JJ played exceptionally, oozing class throughout; fast, deceptive and showing excellent sportsmanship. We were suitably proud of the youngster.
Squash Tigers and more broadly, NJ players did exceptionally well. Our own Lily defied seeding and finished in 17th in the GU15, Reghan and Erika both had rough draws, which is part of the sport, but showed character and persevered to win consols in the GU13 and BU15 respectively. Last, but by far not least, Mimi was her usual vivacious self finishing in the 9-12 slot in the GU11. Shout outs to our “almosts”, with Madeleine and Tyler both first reserves for the event and a little unlucky not to make the draw - there will be other days!
The next JCT will be conducted in Philadelphia the second weekend of October on the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel. The event is being conducted at an exciting time, with the US Open PSA event at the National Center, so a great week to be a squash player and whether competing or not, we should all find ourselves in central Philly that week! Shout outs also to the hard working Coach Claire and Coach Colin for holding down the fort while Coach Jamie and myself were at the JCT. Remember, training always runs, and even when we have coaches away at events we will always make sure those of you back at the club have the training they need to improve.
See everyone at training… bigger things ahead…