Athletic News

Girls Squash

Danae DiNicola – February 10, 2015

By Bob York

Ever since capturing a New England championship back in 2011, Big
Green Girls Squash has been trying to revisit that Cinderella finish
and knock off perennial powerhouse Greenwich Academy. Despite
the fact reaching that particular goal has proved to be elusive, these
girls certainly haven’t spent their time sitting on the bench: Since
bumping the Gators from the top rung of the medals podium for the
first and only time since 2003, the Big Green has continued to meet
with success—chalking up a 37-4 record in regular season play.
Hopes are high as the 2014-15 season begins.

“I feel confident that we will be one of the top teams once again this
year,” said veteran Big Green mentor Karinne Heise, whose clubs
have lost those three straight New England crowns to the Gators by a
combined total of just 17 points. “We have outstanding senior leadership
this season with Samantha (Chai) as captain. She has been a part
of a program that has always stressed great team chemistry as well as
an amazing work ethic, and I’m confident both of these team trademarks
will continue to flourish under her captaincy. I also feel very
fortunate to know that we have some young and talented players
who, fortunately, continue to make their way up the pipeline.”

Chai, who saw her team drop a 5-2 decision to Greenwich during
the finals of last winter’s National Championship, then finish second
at the New England tournament by a scant two-point margin, 106-104,
is hoping her goodbye tour might bring an end to her three years of
frustration—and put a smiley face on Big Green Nation.
“Whenever you play Greenwich, you have to make sure you bring
your A game along with you,” Samantha says. “The reason Greenwich
is always so tough to beat is that they not only have outstanding players
at the top three or four seeds . . . they have outstanding players at the
fifth, sixth, and seventh seeds, too.”

Nevertheless, Deerfield holds the distinction of being the top
boarding school when it comes to ranking girls squash teams, thanks
in part to Samantha’s game as the Big Green’s No. 1 seed; it’s a good
thing she will be on hand to share her expertise.

“Having three starters graduate in the same year is a bit more than
we normally lose,” says Heise. “Due to that fact, we’ll be a little more
inexperienced than usual . . . I’m confident that we’ll fill those holes,
though. In addition to our five experienced players returning, we also
had some talented players move up to the varsity from last year’s JV
program.”

In addition to Chai, the list of returning starters includes Cameron
Munn ’17, who was last season’s fifth seed, Annie Blasberg ’16, and
Chai’s younger sister, Maddie ’17, who were positioned at the sixth and
seventh seeds respectively.

All will undoubtedly move up in the seedings this season, as they
annihilated their opponents last year. Combined, they produced a
daunting mark of 50-1. Both Blasberg and Maddie Chai went 9-0
through the regular season, then posted 8-0 marks through two
tournaments to chalk up both National and New England titles in
their respective brackets. Munn, meanwhile, finished at 16-1, with
her lone blemish coming in the finals of the National tourney.
“We’re really looking forward to the upcoming season,” said Blasberg,
who has suffered just one defeat during two years of varsity action.
“Although we’re probably not going to be as deep as usual, and that’s
always been one of our greatest strengths, we’re still really confident
we can make it a great season.”

“As for Greenwich, they always seem to be our toughest opponent
and are definitely our biggest rival and it’s always exciting whenever
we meet,” added Blasberg. “They always bring out the best in us and
I’m sure we bring out the best in them. We came up with a big effort
last year and beat them during the regular season, 5-2, which, I
understand, was our first head-to-head victory over them in at least a
decade. Hopefully this is the year we break the spell as far as the
tournaments are concerned.”