by Tom Utescher

As if it weren’t wintery enough around these parts earlier this month, half-a-dozen local squash teams took a road trip to New England on the weekend of February 11-13. They went to play at the 2011 U.S. Squash High School National Championships in New Haven, Conn., where Chestnut Hill Academy placed third and the Penn Charter girls finished fifth in Division I, while Springside School won the girls’ Division II championship.

Germantown Friends, with its boys and girls both playing in Division I, found rough going in the main draw, but won a number of consolation matches later on. The Penn Charter boys, who have struggled this winter, competed in Division III, where they tasted success and finished third.

Chestnut Hill, which won the Mid-Atlantic Squash Association championships at the end of January, breezed through its opening-round match at Nationals, taking down Salisbury School, 7-0, while losing a total of just two games in the process. Number one Jack Maine and number two Anderson Good (who will be attending Saint Lawrence University next fall), both seniors, won their initial matches, but found tough going the rest of the way against elite national players.

Next, the Blue Devils logged a 5-2 victory over Westminster School, with the individual wins coming from senior number three Peter Lynn, junior number four Augie Frank, sophomore number five Alex McCall, senior number six Nick DiDonato, and freshman number seven Philip Kelly.

CHA was edged out in the semifinal round, 3-4, by the Taft School, despite successful outings for Frank, McCall, and Kelly. Chestnut Hill reversed that team score in the third-place playoff, taking the bronze medal over Belmont Hill School, 4-3. Frank, DiDonato, and Kelly each took their matches in three straight games, and McCall won 3-1.

Springside also remained true to form, winning Division II at Nationals after taking the title in the second division at the local MASA tourney.

Like the Devils, the Lions only yielded two games in their opener in New Haven, blanking Middlesex School, 7-0. Next was a 5-2 triumph over Bryn Mawr School powered by junior number one Libbie Maine, senior number three Amanda Culp, eighth-grade number four Francesca Fabiani, freshman number five Caroline Canning, and junior number seven Samantha Blake, who all won 3-0.

These five were joined in victory by senior number two Annie Maxwell and junior number six Ellie Stout as Springside barreled through the semifinals, sweeping Westover School, 7-0. In the championship match the Lions prevailed, 4-3, against the Greenwich (Conn.) Academy “B” Team, not a mean feat considering that Greenwich draws most of the major talent from its region and saw its “A” team easily capture the Division I title at the national tournament (6-1 over Deerfield Academy).

Maine, Fabiani, and Canning each went through in straight games, and Maxwell tipped the balance with her 3-1 win.

Up in Division I, Penn Charter had senior number one Tara Harrington, freshman number two Margaux Losty, and junior number four Amanda Roberts win all of their matches during the tournament. Roberts, a little under the weather when she arrived in Connecticut, was held out of the Quakers’ opening match, a 5-2 decision over Noble & Greenough.

“That was the one match where I felt we could win without all of our top four or five, so we rested Amanda,” said PC coach Damon Leedale-Brown.

In addition to Harrington and Losty, senior number three Colleen Fehm, eighth-grader Izzy Hirshberg, and senior Margaret Hilton won their opening matches. With Roberts out, Hirshberg and Hilton had each moved up one position, to number four and number six, respectively.

In the quarterfinals PC fell, 3-4 to Baldwin School, which won the MASA title and came in third at Nationals. Harrington handled her opponent, 3-0, while Losty and Roberts gutted out 3-2 victories. Charter then moved into the “Classic Plate” bracket, where places 5-8 were determined and where the Quakers were the cream of the crop, winning both bouts at 6-1.

Posting that score in the CP semifinals wasn’t easy, though, as Harrington, Fehm, Roberts, and Hilton each had to go five games to prevail over Convent of the Sacred Heart. In the battle for fifth place with St. George’s School, there were 3-0 scores for Harrington, Fehm, Roberts, and Hirshberg, and 3-1 outcomes for Losty and senior number six Demi Angelakis.

Germantown Friends pulled into New Haven with line-ups consisting of (in order) seniors Dan Sneed and Alex Nalle, junior Diego Sanz, senior Ben York, sophomores Max McCafferty and David Sneed, and senior Cole McCourt for the boys, and juniors Carey Celata and Lydie McKenzie, senior Lyles Swift-Farley, eighth-grader Grayson Melby, and seniors Emma Schmidt, Theresa Shropshire, and Lilly Tyson for the girls.

McCourt and McKenzie would win all four of their matches at the tournament. Conspicuously absent on the girls’ side was one of the top players in the country, freshman number one Oliver Fiechter. The GFS standout is recovering from a pulled muscle and is setting her sights on the individual U.S. Junior National Championships in mid-March.

With everyone bumped up a spot on the team ladder, the girls were shaded by Sacred Heart, 4-3, in a tourney opener that featured wins by McKenzie, Melby and Schmidt. Those three won again in Germantown’s first match in the consolation bracket (places 9-16), where Celata, Swift-Farley, and Shropshire also came through as the Tigers handled Hotchkiss School, 6-1.

Celata, McKenzie, Swift-Farley and Shropshire fueled a 4-3 decision over Noble & Greenough, then in the finals of the consolation draw GFS lost to Episcopal Academy, 5-2. Celata won her match 3-0, and McKenzie finished her successful weekend with a 3-1 victory.

The male Tigers tumbled in the tourney debut against Gilman School, with McCourt preventing a shutout in a 6-1 encounter. Germantown opened play in the consolation bracket by beating Berkshire School, 5-2, where McCourt was joined in Victory Lane by Nalle, York, McCafferty, and David Sneed.

GFS ended its weekend in the consolation semifinals, where Philips Exeter eked out a 4-3 win. Nalle and David Sneed stopped their opponents in three straight games, but McCourt had to go five in order to leave the tourney with a 4-0 record.

The Penn Charter boys won their Division III opener, 7-0, over the Brunswick School “C” team. After that the Quakers got by Philips Academy, 4-3, thanks to performances by junior number two Alex Reisley, sophomore number three Luke Angelakis, junior number five Luke Schweitzer, and senior number seven Robert Golden.

St. Luke’s School stopped Charter in the semifinals, 5-2, where PC recorded wins for Angelakis (3-1) and sophomore number one Randy Beck (3-2). The Quakers’ stay at the tournament concluded with a 4-3 outcome in a battle with the Brooks School for third place. Schweitzer won 3-1, while Angelakis, sophomore number four Max Reiff, and sophomore number seven Scott Marcus each pulled out 3-2 matches.