by Tom Utescher

The top talent from Germantown Friends School rolled over the opposition in last Wednesday’s squash set-to at Germantown Cricket Club, but the girls from visiting Lawrenceville enjoyed success farther down the team ladder, creating a 4-4 deadlock in the team score with one contest still on the court.

Freshman number four Grayson Melby pulled out the 5-4 win for the GFS Tigers, overcoming visiting sophomore Natalie Tong, 3-0. Previously, each team had won its 2011-2012 season opener by a 7-2 score, Germantown topping Harriton/Lower Merion, and Lawrenceville defeating St. Andrew’s School.

Last Wednesday the two senior co-captains for the Tigers were among the first to wrap up their matches. Carey Celata, who will continue her career at the University of Pennsylvania, was an 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 winner against Lawrenceville sophomore Mary Jo Mahfood, while the Tigers’ Dartmouth-bound Lydie McKenzie took the number three match, 11-2, 11-5, 11-5, over Ashley Suan, another 10th-grader playing for the Lady Larries.

In the number one spot, Lawrenceville junior Jenny Scherl put up a real fight in the second game, but succumbed to top Tiger Olivia Feichter. A sophomore who is a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, Fiechter won 11-1, 11-7, 11-4.

As Melby and Tong stepped onto the court just vacated by the number one players, GFS freshman Annie Tyson was putting the finishing touches on her team’s fourth victory of the afternoon. Gathering momentum, the ninth-grader turned in scores of 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 against a visiting senior, Audrey Shen.

Farther down the ladder, everything was going Lawrenceville’s way. Senior number six Eliza Becker, who will play field hockey for Dartmouth, proved tenacious with a racquet as well, prevailing in a five-game affair against sophomore host Claire Schmidt, 10-12, 11-4, 12-14, 11-5, 11-2. Two juniors squared off in the seventh spot, where Lawrenceville’s Perry Von Stade, a former Springside School student, secured an 11-8, 8-11, 18-16, 11-8 victory against Lauren Shinn of the Tigers.

Two more tenth-graders from the Jersey school, Cathy Yoon and Jessie Lee, took the eighth and ninth matches, respectively. Yoon handled Hannah Safford, a Germantown freshman, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6, while Lee vanquished Veena Advani, a sophomore, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6.

A 4-4 tally in the team score meant that Melby’s meeting with Tong would tip the balance. Already a member of the varsity line-up as an eighth-grader last year, Melby won each of the first two games at 11-8. She went up 10-2 in the third, but Tong dug in and notched the next four points.

From the left, Melby volleyed across to the far side of the front wall, sending the ball bouncing low off the right wall for match point.

Germantown Friends had gone into Wednesday’s encounter without its regular number six player, junior Anna Bezahler, while Lawrenceville was missing its normal number seven.

Before this season, the Tigers used the old seven-match high school format for most of their home contests. Just about everyone at the scholastic level has now adopted the nine-match collegiate standard, so having solid players in the lower positions on a team has become even more important, and can allow squads that lack the big guns up top to remain competitive.