The Houston JCT was held in Houston, Texas this past weekend. That’s not a sentence I thought I would be writing when I penned my first JCT event reportages for my Philly program back in 2010, but there you are… squash is big enough that there’s a major junior event in the Lone Star State! The event itself was played at Houston Squash Club and the ubiquitous nearby Lifetime facility - and both venues were magnificent. It seems that glass is the new normal, and both courts boasted aesthetically appealing blue glass courts and overall stellar facilities - squash has indeed taken root down south.
Apologies, for repetition, but my normal explanation on JCT’s bears restating after the fifth and final JCT of the year…
“JCT’s they are explained by US Squash as the “highest level of junior tournament, which attracts the best players from around the entire country. US Squash accredits 5 JCT tournaments each year and each event is played over the course of three full days.” Long story short, the best 32 players from each age group get together and test each other out roughly once a month in season… it doesn’t get more fun than that!
The headliner from a NJ and a Tigers front was Miss Reghan who won the GU15 event in style, barely threatened throughout and event playing two Squash Tigers on the way to the title! Lily won through to a great quarter final, following on from a semi final in the previous JCT in DC. Worth noting that Lily has lost to Reghan in the semi in DC and the quarter in Texas… great if we could get non-ST draws for the Nationals, we can only hope! Also a big congratulations to Angela, who played Reghan in the first round in her first JCT - in rating terms Miss Angela has moved from 2.98 a year ago to 3.85 today and playing in Texas - very proud of all hard work!
Madeleine was our sole representative in the GU13 and the statistical star of the event, finishing in 9th position in only her second JCT. To put this in perspective, Madeleine has moved exactly one rating point in a year, from 2.72 to 3.72. In her consolation final she defeated a player rated 0.22 ahead of her, which would be the headline, if she hadn’t beaten a player rated .32 ahead of her in the consolation quarters! Congratulations on the performances, all delivered with perfect sportspersonship and bringing a giant smile to our somewhat hard to impress Coach Jamie! Bigger things ahead!
U17’s had a lot of interest from our perspective, with Claire, Isabella, Colten and Parth engaged in the fields. The girls draw was notable for Claire’s continued progression in her down year and Isabella’s continued progression in her down, down year (she’s 12!). Claire started the JCT season with a semifinal and a quarter final in the first events, aged up and has acquitted herself well in the start of her U17 career. Isabella played a storming event and is well placed to pick up the U13 title in the March Nationals. Bigger things ahead for the girls, and the boys had a similar story. Colten started the season winning JCT’s left, right and center and since aging up has been keeping the U17 boys on their toes. Parth had some good “rating upsets” in Texas, defying the stats and having a 0.2 rating upset at one stage and should be proud of his JCT season.
The BU15 was contested by JJ, Shrikar and Eric. JJ has enjoyed a great season, winning two of the first three JCT’s before aging up into the BU15 and threatening players rated vastly higher than him in this particular event, things look good moving forwards. Similarly Eric and Shrikar are looking more and more like threats to the top end of the boys game. Shrikar looked more at home, in only his second JCT and will benefit from the experience. Eric also continues to improve and could well beat almost anyone on his best day, already super athletic, watch out as he becomes just a little more consistent…
Our two little ones, Mimi in the GU11 and Eric (just turned 11 and in the U13’s) both had solid enough events, but would wish for more. Mimi had a solid first round win, and although unable to back up her Washington JCT 5th place, tried valiantly in the face of some somewhat unlucky breaks. Eric on his behalf was super skillful, but had to pull out after a collision, which happens, and we’re sure he’ll be back to 100% soon.
As always, we can walk away from Texas saying that US Squash ran the event exceedingly well, with their staff working long days and yet always managing to be a voice of reason… Truly, the event was a pleasure and conducted for the most part in accordance with high levels of sportsmanship… and it never hurts that the ST kids played their hearts out. Congratulations to the players and thank you to the parents who gave of their time to escort the kids and give them the opportunity. Many thanks also to Coach Jamie, who made the trip, coached hard all day, and trained each morning for upcoming PSA events, and he’ll be in Washington this coming Friday to continue his own odyssey! Easy to talk about dedication, but even better to be an example of it, and role models don’t come any better than Coach Jamie.
Back at the club it’s a BOAST week, preparation for the Westchester Winter Gold this coming weekend (amongst other things) and training for the climax of the High School season with the National Championships the following week! It’s been a spectacular season so far and there’s still many more great memories to make! See you all at training, BIGGER THINGS AHEAD!