By BOB YORK–
Deerfield Academy left its mark at the 2014 U.S. High School Team Squash Tournament this weekend–and it wasn’t just the residue of squash balls that caked the court walls like some sort of athletic graffiti.
The Big Green girls team finished second in the 16-team Division I field, falling to long-time nemesis Greenwich Academy, 5-2, in the finals at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, Pa., on Sunday. It marked the eighth time in the past nine years that the Gators have captured this prestigious tournament. The Deerfield boys, meanwhile, wound up fifth in its 16-team Division I competition.
This tourney, which was hosted at six different sites throughout Pennsylvania is said to be the largest squash tournament in the world, as 151 schools and 1,403 players representing 16 states competed.
The Deerfield girls headed into the competition loaded for Gators, having bested Greenwich during a previous regular-season outing by a 5-2 count. In fact, the 8-0 Big Green has only lost three individual matches to date, with the Gators chalking up two of them. The other came during a 6-1 decision over Westminster. Six other outings have finished in 7-0 shellackings.
The girls pretty much breezed into the gold-medal round, besting the Potomac School and Taft School by 6-1 margins, while the Baldwin School crumbled by a 5-2 count in the semifinals. Greenwich, proved to be a different story, however.
Ann Blasberg (16) and Maddie Chai (17), who both finished tournament play with 4-0 records, netted the two points for Deerfield with wins in the sixth and seventh brackets, respectively. Samantha Chai (15), who was 0-4 on the weekend, dropped her first bracket decision, while Carey Danforth (14), who went 2-2 and Addie Fulton (14), who was 3-1, lost in the finals at the second and third brackets respectively. Lindsey Dewey (14) and Cameron Munn (17) also fell in the finals. Dewey, competing in the fourth bracket, finished at 3-1, as Munn was 2-1 in the fifth bracket. Ideal Dowling (17) played one match in the fifth bracket and went 1-0.
In the boys competition, Avon Old Farms captured its first National crown ever, while Brunswick School out of Greenwich, placed second, and Haverford School of Haverford, Pa., was third. Despite winding up fifth, Deerfield had a pair of competitors who made their way through the tourney minefield unscathed. Sam Khalifa (14) and Tripp Kaelin (14) both produced 4-0 records in the first and third brackets, respectively.
Team play saw the Big Green finish with a 3-1 showing, besting Taft in the opener by a 4-3 score, then losing to Haverford School by an identical margin. Deerfield completed its tourney run with back-to-back wins over Belmont School, 4-3, and Noble & Greenough, 7-0.
Jack Greenwood (16) finished with a 3-1 mark in tourney play in the second bracket, while Cameron Dewey (14) and James Kjorlien (15) were 1-3 at the fourth and fifth brackets, respectively. Tad Huffard (15) wound up 3-1 in the sixth bracket, as Connor Henderson split his four matched in the seventh bracket.
Like the girls, the Deerfield boys entered the fray on a dominant tone, having posted a 12-1 record, the lone blemish having been acquired during the Choate Tournament back in early January. Plus, the Big Green has made short work of its opponents, having chalked up seven 7-0 decisions and a pair of 6-1 victories.