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Texas JCT - Tiger Reportage

Houston, Texas was home to the final JCT of the 2023/24 season.  


HEADLINES

20 Squash Tigers made the trek south to test their skills against the best of the best and performed outstandingly with three semi-finalists, (congratulations Colten, Reghan and JJ) and six quarter-finalists!  A special shout out to Caroline, making her JCT debut, it seems we have a debut Tiger in almost every JCT of late, which is an exceptionally enjoyable trend!  Congratulations also to all the competitors from Tigers, a testament to the kids’ hard work and the parents’ commitment to facilitating their development - what a great community we have here in NJ.


WHAT BACKGROUND SHOULD YOU KNOW…

A little background on Houston for those of you new to the game.  Houston is one of the fastest growing squash communities in the country and one would not have discussed squash in Texas a handful of years ago; it didn’t much exist.  Kudos to Houston Squash Club who have only been in existence since 2021 and host a large series of PSA events, junior tournaments, and an excellent junior program.  Surprisingly, they are actually host to this year's World Junior Championships, coming up in summer.  A great sign of the growth of the sport in the United States and what can be accomplished with enthusiasm and hard work.


I should remind everyone that JCT’s are the highest caliber events outside of the National Championships.  This JCT was the fifth of five on the US Squash calendar, after we visited everywhere from California to Virginia to Texas to Pennsylvania and Connecticut!  The culmination of the season is undoubtedly the National Championships coming up in Philly in March, however the JCT’s are the next highest prestige event, both in terms of elite player participation and ranking importance.


WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE

If you haven’t caught up with our social media, our Insta Story gives a great feel for the event. We also put some of our photos, some taken by the coaches, some from the kids themselves, onto our Facebook page if you’d like to check that out!


THE BREAKDOWN

The Standout division, as it so often is, was out U17!  Congratulations to Colten and Reghan, who with pleasing symmetry as brother and sister, both came 3rd in their respective divisions.

For the boys, Colten was dominant and despite losing to the eventual winner in a solid semifinal, dominated his other matches with his tough, disciplined approach.  Shout out to Parth on his quarter final, playing clever and incisive squash and Alex in his 11/12.  

Reghan as she frequently does, led the girls and became GU17 National #1 on the latest rankings.  This means that Reghan has the distinction of being one of the very few elite performers to achieve the National #1 ranking at U11, U13, U15 and now U17 - while still being 14 years of age.  Impressive work, congratulations Reghan.  Claire played some good squash to finish 11/12, as did Lily in 18th.  Neither young lady will be thrilled with their final outcome, but both played tough and will be looking to make a real impact at Nationals in March.

U15 boys saw JJ lose a heartbreaking semi-final after playing some magnificent attacking squash - truly highlight reel stuff!  Shoutout to Jonathan, who competed hard despite battling illness.

The U15 girls standout was Erika, now back to normal elite levels after her mid-season knee kerfuffle and finishing in a very respectable 6th position.  Similarly Madeleine played some epic matches, notably recovering from a 2/0 deficit in the consolation to finish top 20.  Final commendation must go to Caroline in her first JCT who battled hard, won games and will be a better player for the experience.

The U11’s are our constant source of enjoyment and so it was again.  Top finisher was Katherine in 6th position, moving her into a top 10 ranked position nationally.  For the boys our two representatives, Yiden and Evan, both finished in the 9-12 bracket in what was a very strong event for the youngsters.  Proud of all of them, they are great examples of continual improvement from simply attending training, trying hard and paying attention.

Last, but certainly not least, the GU13 where we were a little unlucky not to see Meredith, our top 4 ranked U13 who had a birthday on Monday, making her ineligible for the event and our newest U15!  Happy U15th Birthday Meredith!  Amongst the field we did have Mimi and Chloe, who continue to improve with every event in their down year and finished 17th and 18th respectively.  A lot to come from the dynamic duo in the months and seasons ahead!


LOOKING AHEAD

This weekend we will see the High School Nationals in Philly, good luck to our more senior players as they represent their schools proudly.  March brings the Gold, Silver and Bronze Nationals - and I would heartily encourage everyone to enter their appropriate Nationals and compete hard.  It is a tremendous high point to the season, gives invaluable experience and has served to be an inspiration to many over past seasons.  No better way of judging where you are in your squash journey than a definitive experience in a Nationals.


FINALLY

A crucial time of year for many reasons.  If you’d like to arrange to sit down and discuss planning for the short or long term I have put aside some time in my coaching evenings - so please reach out and we’ll put a day and time in the books.


See everyone at training…





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