Everyone’s favorite boys thirds’ squash team was back in action on this surprisingly warm Saturday afternoon. With four wins and five losses on the year, the boys were looking up at a .500 record, but we had two chances to add another to the win column – the annual DA-PA-CRH tri-match. As such, we put our best foot forward: Jason “Jimmy Connors” Liu, Gideon “Aaron Krickstein” Yektai, Taylor “The Stilt” Roberts, Christian “Captain” Yiu, Justin “Clark Kent” Lui, Avery “Flyswatter” Reed, Nathan “Whom?” Hu, Charles “Air Shearon” Shearon, “Sir” Ian Gordon, and Protik “Next Week” Nandy. Our cheering section consisted of Mr. Chang and Sai “The Professor” Dulam.
We took to the court against Andover in the first match of the day, players battling it out on five courts as Coaches Speer and Jacob enjoyed catching up on the sideline. Things went south quickly on the exhibition courts: Protik, never backing down from a challenge, found himself overmatched, while Charles took two games to warm up (although he briefly caught fire in the third, it was too little too late). Ian, hustling around the court to retrieve whatever he could, was unable to get over the hump as well.
Fortunately, we had much better matchups at the top of the lineup. Gideon and Christian led the charge on courts 6 and 10, both playing marathon points and showcasing a full arsenal of skills. Both matches went the distance, and we split the pair after two exhaustive efforts. They ceded the courts to our #1 and #3 players, who each went five games themselves – Jason against a hard-hitting lefty, and Taylor against a similar scrambler to himself. Both boys had to fight back to take the match to a fifth game, but came up just short in the end. Unfortunately, this clinched the match in Andover’s favor; Avery, living and dying by his backhand-free style of play, had gone down in three, and Justin and Nathan could only put a single game on the board each. Final score: 1-6 to the visitors, albeit after four five-setters.
We happily watched Andover take down Choate 4-3, and then it was time to take on our rival. Having been absolutely flattened by them the first time around, we knew we were in real danger of going 0-2 on the day. However, the fellas responded with a fighting spirit, undoubtedly led by Christian at #4. The Chef, playing a worthy opponent, gritted his teeth to eke out the first game 13-11, and then played two more convincingly aggressive games, allowing him to walk off the court with a decisive victory. 1-0 to Deerfield, which was already a better outcome than our January 20 battle. We also got a boost from Charles on the exhibition court, where he rebounded from his bad loss against PA to trade games with Kassinove. Chuck stayed calm, shook off a loss in the fourth, and smoothly walloped his way to an 11-4 win in the fifth – the best squash he’s played in two years on the team.
Next door, Ian and Protik both went down in three tightly contested games – Ian nearly taking it to a fourth. Although Zhou bested Taylor at #3 (Mr. Roberts acquitted himself well, and actually took a 1-0 lead), Nathan powered through his opponent in straight sets, giving us a 2-1 lead. At this point, Justin was behind, Avery was ahead, Gideon was starting a fifth game, and Jason was waiting to go on. Coach Speer was filled with cautious optimism – we might actually take this thing! – but Choate had a lot left in the tank. Gideon worked his way to 8-8 in the fifth game, but shanked the ensuing serve, giving Keffer a 9-8 lead that he had no intention of squandering. 2-2 overall. Avery shook off a loss in the second game, employing a strategy of hitting each serve as hard as possible and figuring everything else out later. Things turned around as he won in four, giving us a 3-2 lead.
Justin, aware of the importance of his match, was locked in a seesaw battle with Whatmore; the two trading blows, with Justin rebounding after each game loss. Unfortunately he ran out of gas to lose 11-4 in the fifth, finally neutralized by his opponent’s strong play. A 3-3 tie meant it all came down to Jason.
Jason lost his first game 11-8, and went down game point at 9-10 in the second game. A crowd of roughly 30 people watched him win the point, and the Deerfield fans collectively exhaled as he went on to win 12-10. The third game proved to be an unmitigated nightmare, as Gao ripped off nine points in a row to win 11-2. Yikes. To his credit, Jason gathered his wits, boasting aggressively to move Gao all over the court. He never trailed in the fourth, and so the entire match came down to a single game.
Jason got a few fortuitous bounces at the start of the game, which enabled him to take a 5-0 lead. From that point, he calmly traded points with Gao to work his way to an 11-6 victory – a terrific effort.
All ten of the boys should be proud of their efforts today. We were right there with Andover, and showed a lot of heart in fighting past Choate. With a record of 5-6 and a rematch with Williston left on the schedule, we can potentially finish the season with as many wins as losses – a major accomplishment for this much-improved group of players. We’ll have a few light practices this week to stay sharp, and then our season will come to a close. A preemptive thanks to the boys for a great season, and I hope to see a bunch of you again next year.
Andover 6, Deerfield 1
Jason Liu lost in 5
Gideon Yektai won in 5
Taylor Roberts lost in 5
Christian Yiu lost in 5
Justin Lui lost in 4
Avery Reed lost in 3
Nathan Hu lost in 4
Charles Shearon lost in 3
Ian Gordon lost in 3
Protik Nandy lost in 3
Deerfield 4, Choate 3
Liu d. Gao 8-11, 12-10, 2-11, 11-7, 11-6
Keffer d. Yektai 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8
Zhou d. Roberts 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5
Yiu d. Wedge 13-11, 11-5, 11-7
Whatmore d. Lui 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4
Reed d. Li 11-5, 3-11, 11-4, 11-9
Hu d. Aramthanapa 11-5, 11-7, 11-5
Shearon d. Kassinove 11-8, 12-14, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4
Yoon d. Gordon 11-9, 11-7, 13-11
Wilkinson d. Nandy 11-6, 11-6, 11-9