The first event on the US Squash Junior Championship Tour (JCT) was held in Connecticut this past weekend. A dedicated crew of Squash Tigers, fresh from an excellent summer preparation played magnificently well and demonstrated the benefit of that hard work! Congratulations to Reghan on winning the GU17, leading the way with a further five Tiger quarterfinalists and 12 finishes in the top 16!
It’s worth mentioning that our North Eastern corridor is the traditional home of SQUASH, but that the Tour will be visiting diverse parts of the USA this season, with Texas, California, Virginia and Pennsylvania all coming up in the next few months on the road to the National Championships in March. Gratifying to know that squash is big enough that there’s a major junior event essentially all over the country this season! This particular tournament was played at MSquash, a club in Stanford that reminds one much of Squash Tigers, and Chelsea Piers which performed the role of the usual “ubiquitous nearby Lifetime facility”. Both venues were magnificent, MSquash boasting its own aesthetically appealing blue glass court, much the same as our own. US Squash were their own efficient and friendly selves, making sure of smooth running and our gratitude as always, goes out to them for providing the competitive architecture for our sport.
On that note, US Squash have been very proactive in recent months with messages supporting Sportsmanship and respect, from players, coaches and families. From a Squash Tigers perspective this has been very welcome, it supports much of the message of our program, and the primacy of respect for self, others and the sport. We insist upon the highest standards of sportsmanship from all our players, not just at events but in day to day training and it was gratifying to see a continuation of that high standard of behavior under competitive pressure from not only the Tiger crew, but their opponents.
Before we do a deep dive into the results, for those new to the scene, let’s start at the beginning, and a quick word on what a JCT is…
"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!
As I mentioned earlier, Reghan was the star of the show, as she often is, winning one of the real marquee events, the GU17. Reghan, who has not yet celebrated her 14th birthday is currently ranked #1 in the GU15 and played a mature event, dismissing five excellent players. Giant killer of the GU17 was Isabella (don’t call me Bella), the reigning GU13 champ. Isabella defeated the #1 seed in a second round on her way to a brilliant semi final and eventual 3rd place. Claire also looked a million dollars, won through to the quarters and scored a win over the reigning GU15 champ in the 5/8 playoffs! Lily was the unsung star and despite a rocky start managed to fight through a series of impressive matches. Bigger things ahead from our girls crew!
The U11’s saw Lilianna in the girls and Yiden in the boys. Both played a solid event, Lillianna only 9 and not the biggest on court, and Yiden in his first JCT both did well, won matches and looked at home on court.
The GU13 and GU15 were busy with our summer camp crew. Meredith and Ayona finished top 16, and Mimi, having just aged up will be better for the exposure with the “big girls”. Erika unfortunately had to withdraw with a slight injury, but looked awesome on court and congratulations to Jasmine on her first JCT ever! First JCT’s are always tough, but great learning opportunities. I like to remind players, a lot of good juniors never ever make it to the field at all, so there’s satisfaction in even making the cut!
The BU13 and BU15 saw “little” Eric in 6th in his down year, and JJ both make quarter finals. Additionally, “big” Eric beat his seeding with a 13/16 finish. JJ played one of the matches of the event in the second round, a ridiculously long match that was high on drama and effort, with calf cramps and untold drama leading to a five game tie break win. JJ, who won two BU13 JCT’s last season and took away the 2022/23 BU15 Most Improved Player Award, is seemingly never in a dull match… and the trend continues!
Last but not least were the big guys, Colten and Alex in the BU17 and Sean as our sole representative in the BU19. Colten, who finished his BU15 career last season with two JCT victories and the national #1 ranking, battled to 9th position with a mixture of his usual grit and some fantastic hand skills at important times. Alex played what was perhaps the Tigers “Match of the Tournament” in the second round and showed in his 11/12 finish that he will be threatening for top honors as the season moves on. Sean in the BU19 was enjoying his first ever JCT, winning 2 matches and earning an upset in the consols of a player rated 0.2 ahead of him. A great illustration of his hard work and a continuation of his great form in the Summer Golds!
The Junior Championship Tour takes us to Philadelphia next month at UPenn and Drexel. The Professionals will be using the home of US Squash in the Specter Center and will hopefully provide us some inspiration. In the interim we have three Golds in different parts of the States and our first Rehearsal Tournament on September 30. The season is here, we’re ready and it’s all systems go!
See everyone at training!