Andover Off To Rough Start; Unable to Win in Two Matches

Andover Boys Varsity Squash kicked off their regular season with two important matches against Tabor and Belmont Hill. Confident in what he saw in the preseason matches, Coach Tom Cone decided to keep the same ladder with Captain Kyul Rhee ’10 as the first seed, and followed by Hunter Schlacks ’11 playing second, and Aditya Mithal ’10 playing third. On the Wednesday before winter break started, Andover Squash hosted Tabor for the first match of their new season. “Tabor is traditionally one of our toughest opponents,” said Schlacks, “and this season they should be as strong as ever.” Andover geared up for this difficult match with enthusiasm, hoping to begin the season on a high note. Despite strong performances across the board, Andover failed to capture a victory, as they lost all seven matches. However, Coach Cone did learn valuable information about his young team. “The team played with passion, intensity and good sportsmanship, important attributes for a team.” Andrew Hong ’10 played exceptionally well against a talented opponent, playing aggressively and hustling and Rhee, who faced one of the toughest opponents in the country, showcased dexterity as he prolonged his match with amazing returns. However, in the end Tabor was too strong for Andover’s young roster. Returning from break, the team played its first away game at Belmont Hill this past Wednesday. Andover was not as optimistic heading into this match, since they lost to this team in a scrimmage. “Belmont Hill, like Tabor, is a deep team with talented players throughout their lineup, whereas we are young,” said Mithal. Andover brought the same intensity and passion into this match, however they were no match for such a tough opponent. Andover was swept, as they lost all seven matches once again. In the loss, newcomers Jared Curtis ’11 and Grace were the high points of the match, as they both had very encouraging performances. Curtis played a capable Belmont opponent, whose skill he matched with speed and power, and although he was unable to muster a win, he showed Coach Cone the desire and ability he hopes for in the young new players. Grace had the surprising, and most exciting, match of the day. . He captivated the spectators with long rallies and eventually battled to win a set. Just when it seemed he would prevail, his opponent came through in the clutch. Although Grace could not quite match his opponent’s endurance, the team was thrilled with his performance in a difficult spot in the ladder. Rhee held his own once again against another one of the best players in the country. Coach Cone said, “The team played well against the toughest competition we will face.” The team remains happy with their performances so far, and they hope use the matches so far to their advantage. Said Mithal, “These matches were learning experiences, good practice for the rest of this season.” The team looks to improve on its 0-2 record this Saturday when they will face Choate, Exeter, and Taft.