Athlete Spotlight: Merritt Wurts ’21, Sarah Stonestreet ’21 and Lucas Capella ’24 – Varsity Squash

Boys & Girls Varsity Squash – Merritt Wurts ’21, Lucas Capella ’24 and Sarah Stonestreet ’21

Interviewed and written by Gale Gai ’22

Learn more about members of the 2020-2021 boys and girls varsity squash teams from Gale Gai’s interviews.

Merritt Wurts ’21 – Boys Varsity Squash

GG: What’s your story with sports?
MW: I grew up playing sports in my backyard, honestly. I played at school during recesses. Across the street from my old day school was a country club, and that was where I first picked up squash. I picked it up because I was doing it with my school, almost like daycare. I also went because they offered candy, and I really liked sweets.

GG: What has inspired you to start playing squash?
MW: A question like this was asked to me not long ago, actually, and I said candy. I also got to play with my friends, which was fun to do. We played games that weren’t necessarily squash on the courts, too, and it was something fun for us to do after classes.

GG: How do you balance your time with school work and squash?
MW: In previous years, we had tournaments outside of school as well. A way for me to deal with that was to get myself ahead with my work, and I also made sure that I was efficient whenever I was doing work.

GG: You are committed to Yale for squash, what are some of your expectations for yourself?
MW: A big question for me is whether I will play or not as a freshman. In college, it is a roster of 9 rather than 7 here. My plan is to train a lot over the spring and the summer, get stronger, and see if I can make that roster. When I was a freshman here at Deerfield, I knew I was going to play, but this will be different as I step into college. So, another goal is for me to figure out what my role is going to be in that team.

GG: What is the most valuable thing about squash for you?
MW: Squash can give you a lot of important life lessons. One thing that squash has taught me is that, while it is a team sport, squash is also solo. This means that the work that I put in, I would see directly through in my matches. I can see what I worked on and how it translated into action. And you always have your team around you to support you as well.

Sarah Stonestreet ’21 (left) interviewed by Gale Gai ’22 (right). Photo credit Kiernan Keller ’22.

Sarah Stonestreet ’21 – Girls Varsity Squash

GG: What’s your story with sports?
SS: I played a lot of sports when I was younger. I played soccer, basketball, and my main sport other than squash is lacrosse. I take lacrosse seriously here at Deerfield, and I am going to play the sport in college as well. I have always been a two-sport athlete, which is fun. They are different sports, and I like that. It is fun to be on two teams and be able to change things up a bit. I have always loved playing sports, and I also like to watch sports. It is great to be an athlete here at Deerfield.

GG: How do you balance your time with school work and squash?
SS: It is something that you learn, even starting in middle school. You are always going from practice to doing homework to studying. You get used to it, but it is especially important to use and manage your time well at Deerfield. There are always many things going on, and you’re constantly going from one to the next. Going to extra help is something that I would do if I am falling behind. Having the schedule including sports is something that I like because it makes things easier to structure my time here with school and other commitments.

GG: Playing with this team at Deerfield, what do you enjoy the most?
SS: We are a really tight group of girls, we are all close friends. Not only do we compete on the court, but we also have fun outside of the court. We always have team dinners, and going to matches and tournaments together is always very fun. My favorite thing is the chemistry we have within the team, and our ability to switch from being competitors to friends.

GG:  How have your coaches or other Deerfield Athletics faculty members helped you make the best out of your time playing squash here?
SS: Mr. Gardner is an incredible coach. He came in in my second year here, and he led the group well from the start, and he got to know us well. He is very organized, and he has a strict practice plan that goes until the last minute. He cares a lot about the team, and he is always open to any adjustments. My lacrosse coach is also similar. She always pushes us to be our best and works hard for the team and Deerfield. She also instills team morals and cultures for us.

GG: What is the most valuable thing about squash for you?
SS: The mental piece of squash is important because, although this game is about technique and skills, it is also a mental game. It is just you and your opponent on the court, so being able to move on from one bad play to the next, forget about it, and keep a positive mindset about the game is really important. For me, squash is also about going for it and not holding back in every game.

Ahmed El Wabory ’22 (left) and Lucas Capella ’24 (right) at the Egyptian Junior Open in Cairo in 2019.

Lucas Capella ’24 – Boys Varsity Squash

GG: What’s your story with sports?
LC: I used to play tennis before squash. The club that I played at built two new courts for squash, and my coach suggested to me to try out squash because I was good at tennis. This is how I got started at squash, and I got better at it ever since. Besides squash, I did rowing this summer to get myself in better shape for this season, and it did make me a better player, especially this season.

GG: How was it like joining this team as a new player?
LC: It was a good experience. At first, I didn’t know everyone that well, and I definitely feel closer to them now. In the beginning, I practiced more by myself and hitting the ball by myself. Then, I slowly got to know Coach Silipo better as well as the rest of the team. I’m really looking forward to playing in the Berkshire match this weekend with this team.

GG: What is different playing squash outside of Deerfield and at Deerfield?
LC: Before Deerfield, I would go around the country and to other countries to compete in different tournaments. I got a chance to play in the Egyptian Junior Open as well, and it was a great experience.
Egypt is known as the squash mecca around the world, and many players would go there to train. It was great to learn and play with some TOP junior players who live and breathe squash. I was also met Ahmed El Wabory (Deerfield ‘22) from our varsity squash team in Cairo, and it was really great. Playing squash here is also good because the courts are nice and my friends always show up to my matches to support the team.

GG: What is the most valuable thing about squash for you?
LC: Squash teaches you a lot about being respectful to your competitors. You shake hands with them after every match, and you raft together after the matches. It is a sport where even if you lose, you have to keep your composure and sit down beside your competitor.

GG: Do you have any squash player whom you look up to or take inspiration from? Why?
LC: I take inspiration from Miguel Rodriguez [4th globally ranked squash player in 2015]. I got a chance to play with Miguel in Colombia since my parents are from there. I even have a poster of Miguel in my room. I really like the way he plays. His techniques and dives are really good.

Go Big Green!