After rallying with his opponent, Ishaan Patel ’18 stretched into a full lunge and hit a drop shot, catching the nick perfectly and allowing him to take the lead from a 7-7 tie. Patel went on to win the match despite starting with a two-game deficit. Patel’s win allowed Andover to secure its first victory against Brooks in five years with a score of 4-3. The team’s record currently stands at 12-6.
According to Steve Nam ’20, Patel’s performance was particularly impressive because he kept his calm under immense pressure while backed by the largest crowd of the season.
“I think Ishaan Patel played really well on our team. He was playing the winning match for Andover, which meant that he was under a ton of pressure, but he was still able to recognize his opponent’s weaknesses and in the end win for the team,” said Nam. “The game was really intense because Andover and Brooks were tied 3-3, and this meant that Ishaan’s match would be the winning or losing match. There was a big crowd of Andover students and parents supporting Ishaan, and the atmosphere was really exciting during that time.”
The Brooks team’s notorious skill forced Andover to step up and anticipate the challenge, according to Captain David Tsai ’18.
Tsai said, “Brooks is an extremely talented team; however, they were missing their number-three seed. This meant that everyone below him shifted up one spot, giving us an advantage. This ended up helping us immensely and gave us the edge we needed to capture a 4-3 win.”
Andover’s four wins came from Patel at third seed, Jack Lee ’20 at fifth seed, Sean Kim ’18 at sixth seed, and Xander Schwartz ’19 at seventh seed. According to Kim, the team’s depth is its greatest strength.
Kim said, “We have really strong depth in this team, so we often pull through with wins at the bottom two or three spots. The number-five, number-four, and number-three-seed matches are crucial, and we were able to take two out of those three matches, which gave us the win.”
According to Kim, Head Coach John Roberts taught the team to play more reserved in order to counter Brooks’ aggressive style.
“We played disciplined squash, which is what Coach Roberts coached us to do and practice all week, and it worked against Brooks’s attacking style,” said Kim.
The self-imposed pressure during this match posed another obstacle for Andover aside from the skill of their competitors, according to Nam.
Nam said, “I think the team’s weakness not only for the match against Brooks but in general as well is that a lot of our players fail to remain calm or composed under pressure. I see some of the players not being able to concentrate and losing their focus when the their match is really close or important for the team.”
The team is looking forward to playing Phillips Exeter Academy next week, followed by Interschols next weekend.
Nam said, “I think it’s important for the players to continue their work in improving their specific weaknesses. I think the most challenging part about our match against Exeter will be to try and avoid being overconfident.”