Andover Boys Squash rose early Friday morning, loaded up a rally-wagon and set out for a three-hour journey to the U.S. Squash High School National Championship in Hartford, CT. The team had one goal in mind: to defend last year’s Division III championship.
While they did not achieve this goal, the boys were still able to win its final match against St. Paul’s to claim third place in the Division III bracket.
Andover’s first match at Nationals was against the University School from Cleveland, OH.
Andover won by a 5-2 margin, with the team’s two losses coming from the bottom two seeds – sixth seed Robby Schwartz ’15, who lost to his opponent 2-3, and seventh seed Ishaan Patel ’18, who fell 0-3.
However, the victories from the first five players on the ladder secured Andover’s spot in the quarterfinals. One of those five victories came from fourth seed Max Fern ’18, who would go on to be the only player on the team to have an undefeated record at Nationals.
“As a freshman on the team, I feel a particular inclination to constantly prove myself,” Fern wrote in an email to The Phillipian. “It is my duty to play my best and always be prepared when the team needs me.”
The team’s next match was against the Delbarton School of Delbarton, NJ. In a nail-biting 4-3 victory for Andover, the tail end of the order came through for the team.
The first three seeds all lost their matches 0-3. Then Fern, along with Patel, came through to shut out their opponents 3-0. Fifth and sixth seeds, Reid Bradt ’15 and Schwartz, respectively, both grinded out 3-2 victories over their opponents. With the victory, Andover punched its ticket to the semifinals, but a talented team from the Gilman School in Baltimore, MD., stood in Andover’s way.
In the Gilman match, the team lost 2-5, which effectively ended its hope of a Championship repeat. The two victories came from second seed Michael Huang ’15, who shut out his opponent 3-0, and Fern, who won his match 3-2. Four of the five losses for Andover were close 2-3 losses. The fifth loss was a 0-3 loss by third seed Jack Quamme ’16.
Andover came back from its semifinal loss and handily beat St. Paul’s 5-2 for third place. The only two losses came from first seed Justin Curtis ’15, who lost 0-3, and Bradt, who after losing his second and third games, rallied back to win his fourth game 11-8. His efforts fell short, however, and he lost his fifth game 7-11, leaving an overall 2-3 match score.
While the first two matches were disappointing, Andover was able to again rally with five other victories. Huang and Quamme beat their opponents 3-1, and Fern and Patel beat their opponents 3-0. This win secured Andover’s third place finish.
While the results were not exactly what the team had hoped for, there was an overall sense of accomplishment among the players.
“We’re just trying to play the best we can,” said Huang. “We all improved immensely over the weekend, and we’re looking to keep that trend going.”
“We are a little disappointed that we couldn’t repeat last year’s Championship run,” wrote Quamme in an email to The Phillipian. “But in the end I think that everyone is extremely happy with how we did. I’d say that everyone contributed a lot this weekend. It was a great weekend, and we’re all very proud to be a part of this team.”
Andover also faced St. George’s, a Division I team, on Wednesday and lost 0-7. Patel and Quamme both lost their matches 2-3. The rest of the team was shut out.
Andover looks ahead to Interscholastics at the end of February.
“Of course, we want to be in great form for Interschols,” said Huang, “and the rest of our matches are important.”
For now, Andover, which now boasts a 6-5 record, will look for a win against Brooks on Friday.