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Silver/Bronze Nationals Reportage

US Squash conducted the 2024 Silver and Bronze Nationals this past weekend in the salubrious surroundings of the Arlen Specter Center in Philadelphia.  With the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel acting as the co-hosts, it was a very successful, but somewhat inclement weekend in University City for us all!


WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

A word of explanation on the events.  The National Championships occurred last weekend in Philadelphia, with 20 of our players competing with distinction.  If you missed our report, there’s a quick link here to bring you up to date.  The Nationals last weekend were the home to the top 16 U11’s and top 32 in all other age groups.  This weekend the Silver Nationals were the proving brackets for those players who did not make the Nationals cut, with those outside the Silver cut then placed into highly competitive Bronze Nationals.


THE HEADLINES

Across both events Squash Tigers boasted 30+ of our players.  30 entrants became 14 quarter finalists, three finalists and two winners!  Shout outs to Shrikar on winning the Silver BU17, Alison on winning the Bronze GU13 and Edward on being a finalist in the Bronze BU17.  Additionally, recognition to Ayan for a heroic performance in the final to take the Bronze BU19!  A glorious weekend with a million stories to be told, some of which we will delve into below!  As an end to this preamble I must reiterate how proud the coaching team was of all our players, an amazing group of youngsters who played with heart, with skill and with undoubted sportsmanship.


WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE?

Candidly, the event looked magnificent.  If you haven’t seen our Insta story, the link to our weekend adventures is here and similarly if you’re keen on our “photo dump”, it may be found on Facebook.  The Specter Center is an amazing venue and the kids were spectacularly athletic… and thanks to both the coaches and parents who sent Coach Claire and I some excellent pics of the action.


SILVER CHAMPS - THE BOYS

Standout performance of the event was undoubtedly Shrikar, who shot the proverbial lights out from beginning to end, defeating an array of higher rated players with entertaining, attacking and flamboyant squash.  When US Squash in their wisdom opens up replays I’ll endeavor to share some of the big guys greatest hits, if only to show that the kind words weren’t simply the hyperbole of a proud coach!  On Friday morning I was speaking with Shrikar and pointed out that my program had brought four boys in the last twelve years to win the BU17 Silver Nationals Title… a walk down memory lane and shouts out to Moyer (Brown), Restivo (MIT), Kacergis (Navy) and Hogan (MIT).  Now it seems I have one more Big Dog to add to the figurative Wall of Fame.  Congratulations Shrikar!


On that note, we also had another TEN quarter finalists…

Amongst the little guys we had Tony in the BU11 and Leo in the BU15 who finished in 4th and 5th place respectively, both great achievements.  Obviously if the U11’s were 32 draws rather than 16, Tony would have been in last week's Nationals and the level exhibited in that age group was quite something.

The BU15 standout was Tyler who finished in 6th position.  Statistically Tyler had one of the great upsets of the event, disproving the rating odds (rating Gods?) in the consolation to beat a player rated 0.2 ahead of him, after a tight five game quarter the day before with a player 0.3 above him.  Big things ahead for Ty and a remarkable advancement in his game as a result of his hard work and determination in the past few months.  He rolled it out and it was very, very cool.

BU17 also featured Eric, who finished in a solid 5th.  One knows he would have wanted more, however the overall level of that draw was exceptional and he will be a force to be reckoned with in JCT’s next season.


SILVER CHAMPS - THE GIRLS

The girls' draws produced six quarter finalists in four draws, pleasing symmetry indeed!  Jasmine and Angela were our two U17 standouts, finishing in 7 / 8 position and 5th respectively after some very solid wins.  Both girls in their down year showed glimpses of top flight potential and will be highly motivated to rejoin the JCT Tour next season.

By way of seniors, Ani did us proud, yet again, with a string of solid results, the standout being in the consolation draw with a memorable five game 0.1 ratings upset over a long term rival.  In the immortal words of Les Brown - “it’s not over until I win”.  Congratulations Ani!

The younger ladies were also shining with Sriya in the GU13 and Caroline in the GU15 making the quarter finals.  With both being significantly less experienced than many of their rivals, both should be very proud of their efforts.

Finally a shout out to one of our favorite Tiger visitors, Kayla, who had a career best win in the GU15 and Anya who finished with an excellent 5th in the GU19.  


THE BRONZE AGE

The Bronze Nationals draws were conducted predominantly at the University of Pennsylvania for the first two days before bringing everyone to the Specter Center on Sunday.  A very sincere and appreciative shout out to Coach Jamie who did the bulk of the moving between the National Center and UPenn.  If neither rain, nor sleet nor hail stop the US Post, it is worth noting that they also do not stop Jamie Ruggiero!  Thanks Coach, the above and beyond efforts for 12 hour shifts day after day after day do not go unnoticed!


FOR THE BOYS

For the boys, Edward was the big dog, making the final of the BU17.  The BU17 was a 64 draw, not many of those around, and Edward navigated the draw with toughness and skill.  Statistically the highlight was him defeating a player rated 0.25 ahead of him to make quarters, but the real story was of a very proud and competitive young man who will doubtless go on to bigger things… but today was pretty darn good!


FOR THE GIRLS

The lead story from the girls was Alison who came from virtually nowhere to win the GU13.  Wow, just wow.  Alison has grown exponentially as a player this season, technically, tactically and physically, and this was a fantastic result for her in only her 6th ever US Squash tournament!


AND NOT LEAST

Our other Bronze quarter finalist was Ronnie, having recently aged up, finishing 5th in the BU13.  One of hardest workers amongst the hardest workers, Ronnie is candidly a coach favorite and it’s fantastic to see him improve virtually every week.  Go get ‘em bud!  Final shout out to Ayan, who won the BU19 in spectacular fashion, coming back to win the final in 5 games after looking in more than a little bit of trouble in the early stages.  Winning a National Title is always special, congratulations to him and his family.


WHERE TO NOW COACH?

Glad you asked, excellent question.

With the Championship Season now concluded, we kick off our Spring programming.  As you are all aware, our weekly training schedule does not alter, but we modify our Squash Tiger curriculum.  Technique is always important, however Spring provides a great opportunity to really emphasize those all important basics.  We don’t want you running into the front backhand during the final of the Nationals thinking about “what foot to use”, but perhaps that is a more than appropriate thought during Spring training!  Likewise we will be doing more physical training, speed, agility, muscular endurance work, and all of it essentially “money in the bank” for the future and will help to move players to that next level of achievement next March!  I certainly expect players to continue to compete in the next few months, just not quite as regularly perhaps, and in a targeted way to make sure that we get some of the hard work needed to set some foundations for victory next season.  If you’re in any doubt as to what this means for you or your child, talk to me.  If it’s a simple question, wander up to me at the club, if it’s slightly more nuanced then please drop me an email and we’ll set up a time to either sit down and chat, or to Zoom.  Regardless, see everyone at the club soon, big things ahead!




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