Members of Andover Boys Squash laced up their shoes, stepped onto their home courts and prepared to face off against Brooks for the second time this season on Friday. Narrowly defeated by Brooks 3-4 on January 22, Andover hoped to redeem itself and rise to the top, but the team fell by the same score.
Andover’s victories came from second seed Michael Huang ’15, fifth seed Reid Bradt ’15 and sixth seed Robby Schwartz ’15. Huang defeated his opponent 3-1, Bradt swept his opponent 3-0 and Schwartz won a thrilling 3-2 match.
In the last match against Brooks, Schwartz was the eighth seed on the ladder and has since moved up to the sixth seed. He was not confident when he first stepped onto the court this time.
“I had gotten little sleep the night before our match,” said Schwartz. “Also, the player I was matched up against had gone undefeated through [High School] Nationals and was running a near-perfect streak for the last month or so.”
Schwartz struggled through the first game, falling 5-11. He rallied and won the second game 11-8 but lost the third again with a score of 5-11. Schwartz and his opponent battled for the fourth game. It was then that Schwartz implemented a new tactic that he had practiced.
“I tried testing my opponent in the air,” said Schwartz. “I hit high, long balls that more looped in the back then screamed off the wall. [The balls were hit] high and soft in comparison to hard and straight before. It worked well. I was able to focus on getting the ball to the back wall, where it’s more difficult for my opponent to use an attacking shot.”
The tactic was so effective that Schwartz was able to edge out his opponent 12-10 in the fourth game. He then routed his opponent 11-3 in the fifth game to win the match 3-2.
Huang also controlled his match. Reflecting on his strategies, he said, “Against my opponent, I made sure to keep the ball deep but also throw in a few drop shots every once in a while to keep my opponent off guard.”
Huang added, “[My opponent] was really quick, but by varying the pace of my shots and varying the shots themselves, I was able to keep him guessing on where I was going to hit next.”
The losses in the match came from the first seed, third seed, fourth seed and seventh seed. All of the losses were 1-3 losses, in which the players lost the first two games, rallied for a third game win but came short on the fourth game.
First seed Justin Curtis ’15 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I struggled to deal with the pace and creativity of [my opponent’s] shot selection. It was frustrating to lose to Brooks 4-3 again, but I think that if we played them a third time, we could take them.”
This optimism was shared by the team, especially with Interschols at the end of February quickly approaching. Andover now holds an 8-7 record including the wins and losses from High School Nationals.
Curtis said that Andover’s results at Interschols will “depend on if [it gets] placed in Division A or B. Division A, which [Andover has] been in for the past two years, always provides challenging matches.”
Head Coach Thomas Hodgson wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “We are still waiting to hear what division we will be placed in. Odds are good we will qualify for the A group. The competition there will be tough, and we will take our matches in the seven individual draws one at a time, hoping to play better each time.”
Andover’s matches against Concord Academy on Friday and Exeter on Wednesday will serve as good preparation for Interschols.