Girls Varsity Squash traveled to Winsor for its first away game of the 2022 season. Despite its efforts, the team was swept by Winsor 0-7, bringing its record to 1-2.
Heading into the game, the team was missing nearly half of its players due to injuries and quarantine. According to Captain Mafi Pinot Forno ’22, the team stepped up despite these unideal conditions and put forth a formidable effort even while playing against tougher competition.
Pinot said, “Today, to be honest, was really hard because three of our top players [were] out. Two of us are injured and the other one is in quarantine. So, in general, we knew going to the match that it was going to be really hard because everyone was playing three spots up. That was really hard because, especially in a sport like squash where there [is] just a team of eight, if three are out, that means everyone moves up, which is really hard. But then, I actually did feel pretty proud of how the team took on the challenge and still performed and everyone I think did their best.”
Karen Wang ’23, who had the best record of the match with a score of 23-33, played three seats higher against Winsor’s fourth rank. According to Wang, the nerves and burden of playing higher competition affected her mindset, but she ultimately surpassed her initial expectations.
“I was really nervous just because I was like, ‘I really didn’t expect anything going to the match,’ just because I assumed that the fourth [rank] girl was really good because she usually [plays] two or three levels up on me. But like when I played my first game, I was actually able to get to 11-9 and I felt really happy then… overall, I am happy with my performance just because I was able to surprise myself.”
In addition to Wang’s performance, Pinot highlighted the strength and perseverance of Ellie Isrealov ’25, who improved the scores of her games as the set progressed. Even in the close matches, Isrealov was able to maintain her stamina and concentration all throughout the game.
“We saw really, really good matches. But I’m really proud of the way Ellie Isrealov played. I saw, so the first game was really hard. She made just a couple points, but then we coached her and I talked to her and she was playing so well after. Then the last game, she lost like 11-9, which is the closest thing you can lose in a squash match with just a two point difference. So I think I was just really proud of how she was able to switch it up even though the first game was so hard. But she kept fighting all the way through, so I was really really proud of that match,” said Pinot.
Head Coach Jennifer Elliott ’94 believes that the absence of the team’s top three players and the overall skills of Winsor put the team at an immediate disadvantage.
“The Winsor team’s just stronger than ours. They were fitter and that was a huge advantage, they were just really fit and they, I think they were healthier. So we were missing three of our players, our number two, three, and four and so that made a big difference in our whole lineup. When you have that hole on top, that influences and impacts the way you do in all the matches,” said Coach Elliott.
As the team prepares for the New Englands and Nationals tournaments, Pinot believes it will be important for the team to maintain its physical strength and concentration during games.
Pinot said, “So I think moving on and thinking about our next matches and Nationals are coming up and New Englands are coming up, those are two big tournaments. And I think the most important thing for our team right now is to be healthy and just be strong, both physically and mentally… So I would just say for the rest of this season our main goal should be to literally not get injured and stay healthy. Because when we’re all playing, I feel really confident like I think we have a really good team this year. And we’re playing well and it’s just that if we’re injured of course we cannot play. So I think that’s just like my main goal for the team this season and of course like for me too. I got injured as well but [am] now recovering. So hopefully once we’re all back, we are able to keep it that way.”
Andover will compete against Taft and Loomis Chaffee at Loomis this Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Karen Wang ’23 is a Graphic Design Associate for The Phillipian.