Andover Girls Squash traveled to Hartford, Conn. this past weekend to compete in the U.S. Head High School Nationals. The top seven members of the team competed in four matches throughout the weekend, securing seventh place overall and breaking even with a record of 2-2.
At the tournament the team defeated both Baldwin JV and Taft 5-2 and fell to both Spence and Milton 4-3.
Head Coach Jennifer Elliott ’94 said, “U.S. Squash organizes annually a high school tournament that every year has attracted more and more schools. They separate the schools into different draws of 16 based upon their ratings of each of their players and success of the team throughout the season… This year the strength of our program placed us in Division II.”
Andover brought a diverse set of players to represent the team. Chelsea Cho ’21, who has been out with an injury, came to coach at the tournament, while Serena Liu ’19 participated as a practice player. The top seven girls on the ladder competed at different experience levels and showed progress throughout the tournament, according to Elliott.
Elliott said, “I want to highlight that Chelsea Cho… [was] a tremendously positive factor in the tournament. She’s an excellent coach, and in addition, she cares just so much and she wants to win so badly that her energy is really infectious.”
“I was really proud of [the top seven who played.] They played hard, with integrity, [and] they were fair. I think they all because they’re in really different places in their own individual game, they have different goals that they are working on, but I would say that Coach [Midori] Ishizuka and I felt that each player made distinct progress,” added Elliott.
Andover took on a variety of teams. The toughest match for the girls was their Saturday morning match against the Spence School, according to Saffron Agrawal ’21 and Elliott.
Agrawal said, “Spence was hard for us emotionally and mentally… the individual matches were hard [for] some of the people lower on the ladder because the Spence girls were really experienced. It was also a little harder than the other ones especially because it was early in the morning and we didn’t have as much time to warm up.”
Elliott added, “We really had some opportunities where if we had won that match we would’ve found ourselves in the semis, so that was a little bit heartbreaking. Our ladder is stronger at the top. Our top three players, in particular, are our most experienced and seasoned players and so for a stretch we were banking on wins there, and hoping for a fourth win at [the lower spots on the ladder]. The Spence team actually had a pretty strong number three and so we lost at that spot, which put us in a little bit of a different position.”
According to Captain Skyler Spaulding ’20, this weekend highlighted a few areas for improvement, and in the remainder of the season, the team hopes to improve its preparation and skills.
Spaulding said, “I think overall we should be a lot more aggressive during our matches, being graceful to our opponents but being aggressive with our shots and shot selection. Specifically I mean hunting, which is preparation, so, getting back to the [center of the court] early and having your racket up; anticipation, watching your opponent and trying to volley everything; and then determination, so being committed to every ball that you hit.”
Overall, the team came together and supported one another through their losses and wins during the tournament, according to Charlotte Toogood ’20.
Toogood said,“I think team tournaments always show the true character of the team, because we made sure not to blame anyone if they lost. Like we lost as a team, we didn’t lose because of anyone. So, just making sure if you lost your match, you didn’t feel like it was your fault or that you were bringing down the team. Just making sure that everyone feels equal responsibility.”