Greenwich Academy wins 10th national squash title
Once again, Greenwich Academy was second to none at its biggest squash tournament of the season — the HEAD U.S. High School Team Squash Championships.
The Gators captured national title No. 10 Sunday, recording a convincing 6-1 victory over The Baldwin School (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) in the championship match of the tournament’s Division I bracket at Avon Old Farms School.
The victory marked the second straight year GA drove home with the Patterson Cup in its possession and the third consecutive season it faced Baldwin in the finals. Since the U.S. High School Team Championships’ inception in 2005, no team has come close to the success the Gators have enjoyed in the event.
“What a fun weekend for our team,” said GA coach Luke Butterworth, whose squad went 4-0 in the tournament. “Our whole team played really good squash. The dedication they have shown throughout the season and during the offseason really showed in the level of play they brought to the court. Winning the cup for the 10th time is a special feeling we all share. The morale of the team couldn’t be higher than it is now.”
Greenwich Academy (9-0) coasted to 7-0 victories the first three rounds of the tournament, including a shutout win against Noble and Greenough School in the semifinals. Senior co-captain Emme Leonard gave the Gators her usual spark at the No. 1 position, earning a 3-2 victory against Meghna Sreedhar. The Princeton University-bound Leonard won the match, 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8.
“Emme pulled herself out of a few tough situations against a tough opponent,” Butterworth said. “She’s playing at such a high level due to the time and effort she has put in on the practice court.”
India Stephenson, a sophomore, was impressive in her match at No. 2, topping Grace Steelman, 7-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-4.
“India was fantastic today,” Butterworth said. “Once she relaxed, her opponent couldn’t stop her. She was unstoppable.”
Junior Emma MacTaggart swept Baila Mudgil at the fourth spot, 11-2, 11-4, 11-4, while sophomore Claire Aube was a 3-1 winner against Alexis Shatzman at No. 5 (8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 12-10).
“Emma is very passionate in our team talks and is very passionate about playing for GA,” Butterworth said. “She went up against a tough opponent, but she didn’t give her a chance to get into the game. It was a really outstanding performance. Claire is very experienced and she stayed calm and focused on her tactics.”
Sophomore Lucy Stephenson, India’s twin sister, clinched GA’s 10th national championship, with her 3-0 win over Sara Syred (11-2, 14-12, 11-6) at No. 6 - a victory that gave the Gators their fourth win of the match.
“It was only fitting that Lucy got our fourth victory, because she has improved so much throughout the season,” Butterworth said.
Haley Aube, a sophomore, (Claire’s twin sister), cruised to an 11-7, 11-0, 11-6 triumph against Baldwin’s Pallavi Sreedhar at the seventh spot.
“Haley got on the court first and set the tone for us,” Butterworth said. “She moved her opponent around, working all four corners of the court. She set the bar high.”
Baldwin, which suffered a 5-2 loss to GA in last season’s national tournament final, got a win at the No. 3 spot from Sumran Mudgil. She edged freshman Binney Huffman, 9-11, 11-4, 13-11, 8-11, 11-2. Senior co-captain Haley Scott and freshman Emma Carney were also part of the championship squad.
“I can’t be more proud of Binney for playing so well against a senior,” Butterworth said. “She’s constantly improving.”
Butterworth, who also credited his assistant coach Jamie Sutcliffe for helping guide the squad, reflected on his team’s latest achievement.
“This one is for everyone that has played GA squash - everyone who has come before us,” Butterworth said. “I’m proud of our team for sticking together and keeping their morale high. The togetherness of our team showed this weekend.”