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National Championships Reportage!

Setting the scene

US Squash conducted the 2024 National Junior Championships at the Arlen Specter Center this past weekend.  20 Squash Tigers qualified to contest the 10 divisions over three days with 9 of the team seeded in the top 8 ️of their respective age groups. In the most competitive time ever for junior squash, simply qualifying for the elite draws was an achievement in itself and everyone involved should be proud of their seasons.

What did it look like?

If you haven't caught up with the Squash Tigers Insta, you can see the story here or check out our Championship sized photo dump on our Facebook page!

The most important number is 11!

When all was said and done, we had 11 top 10 finishes across the age groups. A spectacular achievement from everyone. Congratulations to all the players and their families... just wow!

The stand out

As she often is, Reghan was our Squash Tigers standout, making the final of the GU15.  In a season where she won three GU17 JCT’s, made a semi-final of the US Open, a quarter final of the prestigious British Open and became one of the few players to ever earn the #1 ranking at U11, U13, U15 and U17… we can only applaud.  We all know Miss would have liked one more accolade, but the whole Tigers community is very proud of our #1 and know that many titles await her in the future.

THE MOST IMPROVED - (not just ours, the whole countries!)

Congratulations to Yiden who won the US Squash Most Improved Player Award for BU11. The William T. Ketchum Most Improved Award is given for each age group and in Yiden’s case he moved a remarkable 70 positions in the rankings! He finished his Nationals performance in 6th place.

The U17 crew

In many ways this season was defined by our enormously strong and successful U17 crew, both girls and boys.  We had four quarter finalists in total, Claire, Parth, Alex and Colten!  Claire won a pivotal second round to pull into quarters and should be proud of her efforts under pressure.  Alex won perhaps the match of the tournament in his second round, which made us all immensely proud, but left little to push further. 

Colten and Parth both had tight five game losses in their quarters, and when the burn of that pain eases, they will be proud of seasons that peaked at #3 and #5 in the rankings respectively.  Colten has had a spectacular season, consistently making the semi-finals of JCT’s and Parth is sitting on his all time highest ranking.  A big summer and both will be pushing for more.

Lily concluded a successful down year with 10th place and a first round win that left everyone in the building more than impressed.  Shout out to ST visitors Stephanie and Frances for making the cut and always playing tough and with the highest standards of sportsmanship.

The U15’s

Reghan’s final was the highlight of the U15s, but there were more stories.  A jetlagged JJ fought his way to a courageous 6th, the resurgent Erika finished 13-16th but came a whisker from defeating the #4 seed second round and showed glimpses of the championship caliber that she so obviously possesses.  Shout outs to Madeleine and Meredith, both working hard and both going to be forces to be reckoned with next year.  Last but not least, a well done to our frequent Squash Tiger visitor Miss Isabella (don't call me Bella) on an excellent 3rd.

The real (little) superstars!

As is frequently the case, our U11’s and U13’s rocked the metaphorical house.  As remarked upon above, Yiden, the most improved BU11 in the country this season, made a strong 6th place, leading Evan, our other representative who finished in an admirable 12th.  In the girls Lilianna was top 5 and Katherine 9/12.  Those exceptional four are very much the vanguard of our U11 program, with a ton of younger ones coming up behind them it will be interesting to see who makes the jump for next year!  In the GU13 our two representatives, Mimi (13-16th) and Chloe, capped off a very successful season.  Both in a down year, it was very impressive just to make the cut and the later stages of the event are a realistic possibility for both next season.

Last but not least...

Miss Maryam finished a rather triumphant 9th, only losing out to the eventual winner Miss Fouts in the second round.  Maryam was her usual athletic self throughout, but showed some excellent racket work and mental resilience that left us all very impressed.  We will clearly miss our notional “girls Captain” when she continues her squash journey next year at UVA… Coach Allen has a good one there…

Bifurcation, so to speak... 

Now that the Nationals have concluded, the program slightly bifurcates, with the two tracks being somewhat self evident.  Our top 32 players are in what we call a transition phase, a little rest then the start of Spring, which is the season for technical development and physical improvement.  Our Silver and Bronze National players are preparing for the culmination of their own seasons this weekend in Philadelphia where, with the help of our coaches, they will be looking to go out on a high.  

The way forward

Good luck to the Silver/Bronze Nationals crew, it is a very auspicious tournament in its own right and a fantastic culmination to the season for them.  For the others, feel free to take a little rest, and then it’s planning time.  The truth is always that Nationals are won in March, but much of a player's success is determined in the training blocks between April and September.  All have the will to win, but not all have the will to prepare… so never tell me I didn’t give you a friendly coach warning!  :)  

See you all at the club!


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