Following the team’s 7-0 sweep against Phillips Exeter Academy on Saturday, Andover Girls Squash headed into its match against St. Paul’s on Wednesday with a four-game win streak. Led by 3-0 sweeps from Liz Zhao ’24, the team’s third seed player, and Karen Wang ’23, the team’s sixth seed player, Andover defeated St. Paul’s 6-1. Adding two more victories to its win streak, the team’s record now stands at 8-2.
Andover will play Exeter once more before the end of the season. According to Kennedy Ndiaye ’22, the Andover/Exeter rivalry provides intense competition and the opportunity for the team to improve certain aspects of its game.
“I think Exeter is one of our favorite teams to play because of the years of tradition and the competition. And as our coach, [Head Coach Jennifer Elliott ’94] always says, we respect them as players and students and people. So it’s intense competition and everyone’s really good and [we’re] in some of our most competitive spirit. But it was not the first time we played them this season, and it also wasn’t the last time we’re going to play them again before the season is over. So it’s a really good opportunity to focus on something specific each time that we play them and it can be different things,” said Ndiaye.
During practices, the team has been working on drills tailored towards increasing its fitness and offensive power. According to Zhao, the intense practices have translated to improvement and success on the court.
Zhao said, “One thing our coaches really like to emphasize during practice is our fitness, and we do this brutal warm-up that’s like five minutes of jump roping, then five minutes non-stop of running up and down the Snyder stairs, and then five minutes of sprinting back and forth on the court just as a warm-up. So our fitness levels have, I think, really improved, and it’s really helped during those really long rallies and points where the ball just won’t die. And then we’ve also been working on attacks and playing aggressively, and I think that also helped in order to beat our opponents.”
Defeating St. Paul’s with 3-0 sweeps from Zhao and Wang, the team saw formidable play across the whole team. According to Kim, the team has focused on maintaining composure and sportsmanship amidst its recent success.
“I think all of us have been playing really well, but just making sure that we’re having good sportsmanship because I think a lot of times when you’re playing really well and having matches against others, it’s easy to become a bit arrogant or kind of lay off. But all of us have been really focusing on what we can work on in each match and making sure that we have good sportsmanship and representing our team values. And that’s something that we’ve been really excelling in and just staying calm and playing our own game well,” said Kim.
Looking ahead, the team is looking forward to more competition against Exeter and the teams it lost to previously. According to Ndiaye, the team is aiming to carry its momentum throughout the rest of the season in hopes of a deep run at Nationals.
“We’re looking forward to playing Exeter again and hopefully [beating] them again in the same way, and we’re really looking forward to Nationals which is a really great opportunity. We lost to Winsor, but we hope to play Winsor again and beat them this time because we have more players back on our team; we had a few injuries and sickness. But yes, looking forward to Nationals and just continuing to excel,” said Ndiaye.
Andover will seek another win as it welcomes Groton at home on Friday.
Editor’s Note: Karen Wang ’23 is an Associate Graphic Editor for The Phillipian.