Dropping only four games over the course of the entire match, Andover Boys Squash earned a 6-1 victory over Brooks on Monday. On Wednesday, the team played at Noble and Greenough, where it fell 4-3 in the close match up. The team’s record now stands at 4-2.
In preparation for both matches, the team strategized and played many competitive games during practice, according to Siddhant Sinha ’21 and Erik Wang ’21.
According to Sinha, the team worked to maximize the use of its practices and discussed strategy to implement in its matches after returning from Winter Break.
Wang added, “In practice, we played a lot of challenge matches and condition games where there is definitely some pressure on ourselves to play our best squash, so emulating these match scenarios helped us deal with actual opponents on court.”
Against Brooks, Andover was able to control points and stay focused, according to Arthur Nguyen ’22. This enabled the team to secure an early win, according to Head Coach John Roberts.
Nguyen said, “What the team did well was playing good quality shots and controlling the game. We didn’t give our opponents any chance to come back. Brooks had a team that never gave up. They definitely did not make the games easy and capitalized on any mistake we made. However, we mentally prepared ourselves for a tough match and were able to deal with Brooks.”
In an email to The Phillipian, Coach Roberts wrote, “Brooks has been very strong for a few years but graduated a few players last year. Our boys played at a high pace against Brooks and did a great job of never letting their opponents settle into the match. From the start, they began racking up the games quickly with clinical squash and never let them gain any foothold in the match. In the end, we managed to secure the four crucial wins relatively quickly which was our ultimate goal.”
Nguyen commended Captain Alex Bernhard ’19 in the Brooks match for his poise and determination on court.
Nguyen said, “What stood out to me [about Bernhard’s match] was how he reacted when he lost rallies. He showed no emotion and gave nothing away to his opponent. After the match, Alex was very optimistic and wanted to get better.”
The team welcomed three new players to the roster this year. According to Sinha and Roberts, the depth of the team has factored into the success of its matches.
Coach Roberts wrote, “Our greatest strength has been our depth and consistency. Overall as a team, the drop off as you go down the ladder is rather small which makes it very difficult for teams to secure any easy individual matches against, let alone the four needed to win a contest. Our individual performances, thus far, have remained consistent which is a testament to the hard work they’ve put in during practice time and in the off season.”
On Wednesday the team travelled to Nobles, where it faced a challenging, high pace game from its opponents. Despite the loss, the team did well keeping focus and hitting deep shots, according to Wang.
Wang said, “Nobles’ top four were all pretty strong, they had a good home crowd going, and also it was hard to deal with their style of play because their general team style was to hit the ball pretty hard and hit at a high pace, which is something Coach Roberts doesn’t really like us to do. Keeping up with their pace and not letting them get their strategy into our strategy was pretty difficult.”
“Still, we kept our heads in the game with a tough opposing crowd and stuck in the matches for some tough opponents. We dealt with fast courts well, and managed to put them under constant pressure through good deep length and tight rails,” continued Wang.
In preparation for its upcoming matches, the team works to reduce unforced errors and improve its movement and mental game, according to Nguyen and Coach Roberts.
Nguyen said, “What I hope for the team to do better is to improve our focus when easy opportunities arise. There were some rallies where my teammates, including me, lost the point by making unforced errors, which we need to fix.”
Coach Roberts wrote, “We enter a busy six weeks now with a lot of matches and some tournament play. From a technical standpoint, we’re trying to work on moving the ball around the court more efficiently utilizing the height of the wall. From a mental standpoint, trying to instill the belief that they are more than capable of winning matches against opponents who would maybe be heavy favorites on paper but can be broken on the court.”
Andover will play Groton at home on Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Alex Bernhard is an Eighth Page Editor for The Phillipian.