Girls Squash Team Reigns Victorious in DII Championship

Coach Jenny Elliott stood beaming with Seniors Misha Hooda ’14 and Co-Captain Adèle Bernhard ’14 on a podium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, last Sunday while hoisting a golden plate and a banner proclaiming the Andover Girls Squash team as the 2014 U.S. High School Division II National Champions. Going up against some of the strongest teams in the nation during the weekend, Andover came out on top with four wins in a bracket of 16 teams, including the clincher against Choate, 5-2. Andover started off its weekend against Hotchkiss, posting a 6-1 victory. The second match of the tournament proved to be much harder. The top of the ladder for Andover went down in order 1 through 3, but the team’s depth shined through, as Emma Crowe ’15, Hannah Burns ’15, Claire Kister ’16 and Hooda all came up victorious. Of the four wins, Andover swept three while Burns picked up a four game win after falling behind 1-0. With the two wins, Andover earned a spot in the semifinals, and a chance to face Brooks, in their third such matchup of the season that had been preceded by two 6-1 Andover wins. The sole Brooks triumph in each of the previous matchups had been supplied by Bernhard’s younger sister, Helen, who took down both Andover Co-Captains Bernhard and Madeleine Mayhew ’15. This time, however, Mayhew went into the match with a clear idea of her opponent. After battling hard for two games, the match was tied at 1-1, but Mayhew persevered, winning the third game and fourth games 11-8 and 11-3 respectively. Andover put away Brooks again with relative ease, posting yet another 6-1 win. The finals matchup was a battle to the bitter end, emotions ran high, especially for Hooda. “Right before we played Choate that day, the team watched the famous locker room talk from the movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ and standing there, I realized, ‘I’m a Senior.’ This is the last match I will ever play at a High School Nationals and even if I lose, I’m going to lose knowing that I put every ounce of effort into this match,” said Hooda, who had won all three of her previous matchups in the tournament. After winning the first game 11-7, Hooda dropped two consecutive games 5-11 and 7-11. “After the third game, I was exhausted and most of the team was around me trying to pump me up,” she said. Her teammates’ support proved key, as she roared back a tight fourth game 11-9. In the fifth, with the match on the line, Hooda took the match 11-8 in a dramatic fashion. Andover as a team would go on to win 5-2. As Hooda said of the win, “Being a Senior, I am so proud of the team. My Freshman year, we finished at the bottom of Division III. I honestly can’t believe how much we improved thanks to Coach Elliott. It’s been incredible to see how the program has grown in the last four years and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”