Boys Squash Takes Fourth at Interschols, Surpassing Last Year’s Fifth Place Finish

Andover’s squash team returned from Interschols this weekend with a feather in each of the players’ caps. Despite having graduated three of the top four players from last year, the squash squad managed to place one seed higher than last year in the final standings, earning 4th place in the league of 35 schools. The only teams with higher rankings than Andover were Brunswick, Belmont Hill, and Taft, in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively. Much of the team’s success has been attributed to the determination and work ethic of the players. Over the season, the squad toiled and strained under the guidance of team captain Dave Morse ’04. “ Fitness is the key to dominating in squash. You can’t hit winning shots if you can’t get to the ball in time,” said Morse. At the number one position, Elliot Beck ’05 had a maturing experience through the season. His jump from number three last year was a big change, but Beck had to take the spot, acting as a sort of sacrificial lamb. Beck bore the brunt of the attack that the best of the other teams threw at Andover. The players immediately below Beck in the ladder (of similar skill levels) enjoyed easier times against less cutthroat opponents. Beck faced some of the best in the country at interschols. He lost his first match against St. George’s Leroy Leong, and later to St. Paul’s Sean Wilkinson, native of Zimbabwe. “Next year I’ll know what to expect, I know what’s coming. I plan to do much better next year,” promised Beck. At the number two position, Derek de Svastich ’06 faired only slightly better than Beck. De Svastich lost in the first round to Omar Mangalji of Groton in four hotly contested games. He pulled out two big wins against Brooks and St. Pauls on the second day of match play. On the third and final day, de Svastich lost to Bermuda resident Mike Shrubb in the consolation quarterfinals. Shrubb went on to win the consolation bracket later that day. At number three, Dan Wagman ’06 played well the entire weekend. He was seeded fourth in his bracket due to his excellent record from the regular season. Wagman blazed through his first match, beating his Tabor opponent in three quick games. Difficulties in his second match against fifth-seeded Jack Fennebresque of Choate tested Wagman’s limits. Straining throughout, Wagman managed to finish the five-game marathon match on top. In the semifinals, Wagman faced top ranked John Fulham of Belmont Hill. Fulham’s skill was too much for Wagman. Fulham won in three games, 9-2, 9-2, 9-0. In Wagman’s last match, he lost to end the tournament in fourth place in his bracket. At number four, captain Morse played aggressively. He won his first match against St. Pauls in three short games. The next day, he was pitted, once again, against his Exeter rival, Harvey Lederman. In an epic last encounter, the two duked it out ferociously. Morse’s record against Lederman over the past two years had been 4-0 before the match. It was Lederman’s last chance to redeem himself. Morse quickly gained a 2-0 game lead, but Lederman fought back, balancing the score at 2-2. Morse grew tired and had to rely on shot selection to dig him out of his hole. With a nail-biting finish, Morse won the fifth game 9-7, sending him to the semifinals. In his semifinal match against Brunswick, Morse could not cope with his opponent’s unusual playing style and hard hit shots. Captain Morse lost in three games, leaving him disappointed. He went on to win his next match in three short games, placing him third overall in his bracket. At number five, Harry Goldstein ’05 did his fair share of damage. He lost an emotionally charged match against a strong Groton player in three drawn-out games. Goldstein won his next two matches easily, and then was once again met by his previous Groton rival in the consolation semifinals. Tired from his previous bouts, Goldstein toiled over five grueling games. Revenge was had, as Goldstein won his match 3-2. He went on to win the consolation bracket, placing him fifth overall in his bracket. Number six player Henry Manice ’05 also had a good weekend. He won his first match against his Rye Country Day opponent in three easy games. On the second day of match play, Manice faltered slightly against a strong Hotchkiss player, but eventually out-shot his competitor and won in five games. Manice lost a three game match to the top seeded Brunswick player in the quarterfinals. His Brunswick opponent went on to win the number six bracket. Rounding out the bottom of the ladder was Kirk Lepke ’04 at #7. Lepke stepped up his level of play during the weekend, showing his mental abilities concerning shot selection and game strategy. Lepke went straight through his opening two matches, beating his Exeter and St. Pauls opponents. Lepke lost in three games to the top seeded Brunswick player, but managed to put up a good fight before he went down. Lepke beat J. Simpson of Milton Academy to earn third place in his bracket. Next year the Andover squad should be unstoppable. With the majority of the team returning, depth and experience should prove to shoot the team to the top of the league. “We all promised Morse that we would at least come in second in next year’s interschols,” said Goldstein, “We intend to keep that promise.”