GREENWICH — The U.S. High School Team Squash Championships is still three weeks away, yet Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart Greenwich already seem to be competing at a postseason pace.
The Gators and Tigers entered Monday’s matchup against each in the midst of highly successful seasons, so something had to give in the rivals’ latest showdown.
In a match featuring well-contested points and intense action, it was the four-time national high school champion Gators that kept its perfect season intact.
Posting a 6-1 win against its longtime neighborhood rival, Greenwich Academy raised its record to 6-0, heading into Wednesday’s match against Deerfield Academy. Monday’s match was competitive, featuring one five-game match and two matches that were decided in four games.
“It was a good test for our team,” said GA coach Luke Butterworth, who has guided the squad to the Division I title at the U.S. High School Team Championships the past four seasons. “It was good for our girls to work on their mentality going into nationals. They went up against tough opponents today, so it was a good test.”
In the most hard-fought match of the day, Greenwich Academy senior Emma Carney edged Sacred Heart senior Katie Keller, 3-2. Carney, who will play squash at Stanford University next season, lost the first game, 12-10, won the second game, 11-6, then dropped third, 11-7. She won the final two games, the second of which was by an 11-8 score, to take the match.
“It was a good match, I’ve played Katie a few times before,” Carney said. “She’s a great athlete, so I knew it was going to be a tough match. I played well, she played well and overall, it was a good match.”
“Emma is an amazing player,” said Keller, who will play lacrosse at Duke University next spring. “I used to play her a lot when we were younger, so we battled it out a long time ago. She is super fast and is able to get the ball deep, so I had to make sure I was moving her.”
Keller, one of the captains, was one of eight seniors honored on Sacred Heart’s Senior Day on Monday. The team held a special Senior Day ceremony following the match.
“It’s amazing to help lead the team and meet other girls in different grades,” Keller said. “It’s always fun to play GA and I think we’ll be seeded higher this year at nationals.”
At No. 1, freshman Caroline Fouts continued her standout season for the Tigers, defeating Binney Huffman, GA’s top-ranked player, 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7.
“I really liked how my team was helpful to me in this match,” Fouts said. “It’s stressful and that environment really helped me out. Most tournaments (on the US Squash circuit), it’s just one person there watching you, like your mom, dad, or coach. So the team watching me helped and it was really nice. Binney is a great player, she’s going to play at Harvard, so it was a tough match.”
Junior Brecon Welch gave Greenwich Academy a 3-0 win (11-6, 11-9, 11-2) against Sabrina Schwarz at the third spot.
“I was just trying to play a simple game and keep her running,” Welch said. “I was trying to place it and have her move and give myself opportunities to hit a good shot.”
Welch said every player in GA’s lineup helps each other improve.
“We all play outside of school, so there is really good depth on our team,” said Welch, who won a tournament in Santa Clara, Calif., last week. “Our practices are really tough. We have challenge matches every week, so those matches are tough.”
Freshman Emma Trauber of GA was a 3-1 winner against Madeline Schwarz at the fourth position, while Gators junior Lindsay Westerfield won her match at No. 5 against Sacred Heart’s Claudia El-Masry, 11-8, 11-3, 11-5.
“The season is going well, we’re undefeated and could be seeded first at nationals again,” Westerfield said. “We all play on the junior circuit and we are competitive with each other. But at the end of the day, we are all a team, so we try to push each other.”
Megan Meyerson (No. 6) and Penny Oh (No. 7) each won their matches 3-0 for the victors. Both teams will compete in the U.S. High School Team Championships, which takes place Feb. 21-23 at Trinity College in Hartford. Greenwich Academy beat Agnes Irwin for the Division I title at last year’s tournament.
“We are the defending champions and we only have two returning seniors, so a lot of us are very excited to play at nationals and get our chance,” Welch said.