Saturday’s home contest against Exeter was a nail-biter to end all nail-biters, as Deerfield’s undefeated record teetered in the balance. Senior Maya Hart, down from varsity, was up first in the day’s order and fell 3-11, 4-11, 11-5, 7-11 to her Exeter opponent. Hart played smart squash and had some truly beautiful aces but ultimately the Exonian was the victor that day.
Deerfield’s fate depended on its six top players for the day, all of whom stepped up in the absence of our usual #2 player, and with only two more losses possible before the day went to Exeter, the team was on edge. The first victory of the day came from senior tri-captain and #3 Carolina Conzelman, who has showed her most determined efforts as the season winds down: Conzelman won 12-10, 11-6, 11-4 to give Deerfield a point for the day when it truly counted. Sophomore Isabella Geraci at #6 was the next to finish, with a beautiful triad of victories: 11-2, 11-2, 11-4, many fueled by excellent aces. At #4, sophomore Christina Li was locked in a critical battle for the day. She traded games with her Exonian opponent, going 11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 6-11, keeping things quite interesting for the spectators. In the fifth and final game, fate and skill looked to be on Exeter’s side: Christina was down 6-10. Yet somehow, she came back, locking up the game at 10-10 and then grinding out two more precious points to give Deerfield a critical third win. Junior Olivia Geraci, stepping up to #7, secured the win for Deerfield: she won three long games 12-10, 13-11, 14-12 to give DA the fourth and necessary final point for the day. This match featured excellent sportsmanship from both sides, and Exeter was overall a true pleasure to play against.
At #2 for the day/back in #1 for the entire team, ninth-grader Talbot von Stade valiantly battled a fantastic Exeter player for a respectable 1-3 loss. von Stade hung on tight through each game, losing just 9-11 in the first, winning the second 11-7, and then falling 5-11, 9-11 in the next two. von Stade has much to be proud of as a total novice to squash who played her way up the entire ladder and has achieved many victories throughout the season, no doubt due to her dedication to improvement and truly competitive spirit. Cameron Heard at #5 had a tough time with her highly talented opponent, but did her best despite being somewhat outmatched (8-11, 2-11, 5-11).
Deerfield’s victory brought the girls’ overall record to 10 and 0 for the entire season, with just one match, Wednesday’s final contest against Choate, to seal their fate. The team will practice just twice more before the match and must trust in their desire to play their best squash possible to carry them through this final trial.