After three days of competition and four matches, Andover Boys Squash placed ninth out of 16 teams in Division II of the 2018 HEAD High School Team Squash Championships.
Though Andover lost its first match 4-3 to Bronxville due to illness and injury, the team was able to come back and win the remaining three matches 6-1 against Penn Charter, 4-3 against Millburn, and 4-3 against Milton. The team’s season record now stands at 11-6.
While at Nationals, Captain David Tsai ’18 battled an ankle injury, and Xander Schwartz ’19, Jack Lee ’20, and Erik Wang ’21 fell sick. Schwartz was forced to drop out of the tournament, and the team struggled in the first match and was defeated. Schwartz was replaced by Steve Nam ’20.
Despite the fact that the team was missing Schwartz, it was still able to play well because of its depth, according to Nam.
Nam said, “I think the team’s biggest strength is that we have a really deep team. This means that as the seed goes from one to eight, the skill level does not drop drastically.
Instead, it goes down by really close increments, resulting in a team that is really strong in its bottom half. This allowed us to secure many wins with matches in the bottom half of our ladder.”
According to Ishaan Patel ’18, Alex Bernhard ’19 had a particularly strong performance, especially given that he was playing some of the best players in the country as first seed.
Patel said, “Alex played really well. I think he went two and two. He was just really confident, and he played smart. He won some matches that he was seeded to lose, which was good.”
Sean Kim ’18 added, “Alex Bernhard played really well. As our number one, he played the toughest opponents and came through with a few crucial victories as always. He was the most consistent of us all.”
Additionally, Wang, a Junior on the team, performed well under the pressure of the tournament, bouncing back after a close loss in his early match, according to Patel.
Patel said, “Erik Wang, one of our [Juniors], also played really well. Initially, it was tied 3-3, and he ended up losing, so that was kind of a big setback for him, and he was really emotional about that.
But we had two other matches where it was tied three all, and he ended up coming through for us. Towards the end of the tournament, he started playing really well.”
According to Nam, Patel, also fought hard against several difficult opponents at second seed.
Nam said, “Personally, I thought our number-two seed, Ishaan Patel, played really well. I was watching parts of his matches, and his game looked really on point. Although he didn’t win all of his matches, I still thought he was giving his best not only for himself but for the team as well.”
According to Patel, the fact that the sick team members continued to play helped Andover succeed because it allowed the lineup to remain the same. This dedication made it possible for healthy members of the team to win at their usual positions while the others fought their best.
Patel said, “We didn’t really do anything to combat it; it was just those kids stayed in and took the loss, which allowed other kids to be able to pull through because they were not having to play higher. Besides the kids who were sick and injured, everyone else played well. As the tournament went on, people played better and better, so besides those three or four kids who were sick, everyone played well.”
On Wednesday, the team’s match against St. George’s was canceled due to the weather. Andover will play a home match against Brooks this Saturday. Editor’s Note: Alex Bernhard ’19 is an Eighth Page Editor for The Phillipian.