Penn Charter girls squash team co-captains Ryann Shaffer (left) and Emma Ebert. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Penn Charter prevailed in the top two individual matches in last Thursday’s squash season opener, but before junior Margaux Losty and sophomore Izzy Hirshberg even took to the court, visiting Shipley School had carried the day.

The Gators won six of the seven bouts in positions three through nine to emerge with a 6-3 team victory. The third individual win for the Quakers came courtesy of number five Ryann Shaffer, a senior co-captain for PC along with number six Emma Ebert.

Charter is launching the season without two longtime varsity mainstays, 2012 graduates Tara Harrington (Princeton) and Amanda Roberts (Yale). The Quakers also lost a little depth farther down the ladder, as number nine Suzy Bonn also moved on.

While Thursday’s contest was the 2012-2013 debut for Penn Charter, Shipley had already played three matches, defeating Conestoga High School and losing to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Lawrenceville.

The early results didn’t bode well for PC, as the Gators secured wins at the last four positions on the ladder and needed just one more individual victory to clinch the overall match.

Ebert lost in the sixth spot to a fellow senior, Zara Sternberg, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5, and one rung below another upperclassman, PC’s Natalie Badawy, bowed 11-3, 11-2, 11-0 to sophomore Sara French of the Gators. Charter senior Rachael Garnick, a veteran softball player who only recently took up squash, performed better as her match progressed, but visiting number eight Chelsea Shanis, a junior, still came away the winner, 11-2, 11-8, 11-9. Gators senior Abbie Spector was an 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 victor in the ninth spot, where she faced Jordyn Schwartz, a freshman on the host team.

Shaffer, at number five, snagged the first win for the Quakers, beating Britt Lovett, a Shipley ninth-grader, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8. Shipley sewed up the team triumph in a bout between juniors at number three, where Anna Martin meted out an 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 defeat to Danielle Reisley of Penn Charter.

In the only contest to extend beyond the three-game minimum, PC junior Leigh Steinberg carried the first two segments in the number four match, 11-7, 11-8. Shipley senior Carli Ladda stopped her slide in the third round, winning 11-7, and she went on to nail down the next two games, 11-8, 11-5.

Although they couldn’t reverse the outcome, PC’s top two at least provided some entertainment for the home fans at the end of the day. Hirshberg overwhelmed Annie Lovett, the Gators’ senior number two, 11-0, 11-4, 11-1, and in the premier position Losty outlasted sophomore Pinky Rowe in the opener, 12-10, and then won the next two games more easily, 11-3, 11-5.