Numerous squash rosters at colleges across the nation include players who honed their impressive skills at Greenwich Academy, which has been second to none at the U.S. High School Squash Team Championships the past four seasons.
The Gators’ 2019-2020 championship squad featured two sets of twin sisters — Claire and Haley Aube and India and Lucy Stephenson — all of whom went on to continue their respective squash careers at the Division I level.
Coached by Luke Butterworth, this year’s GA team, which sported a record of 4-0, entering Wednesday’s match against Deerfield Academy at Trinity College, has five seniors that will bring their squash racquets to college.
Among the college-bound squash group are senior captains Emma Carney and Binney Huffman. Carney will play squash at Stanford University and Huffman is heading to Harvard.
“It has been such a dream of mine to play on that Harvard team,” said Huffman, who plays at the No. 1 spot for the Gators. “It’s the top woman’s team in the country, they have won the past five national championships and Cambridge is a great college town, so I’m really excited.”
Kayley Leonard, a recent Harvard graduate, who graduated from Greenwich Academy in 2015, also starred for the Crimson. Huffman, who last winter, starred at the No. 4 spot, where she posted a 3-1 win in her match at the national championships, appreciates her role as one of the captains of the squad with a storied program.
“It’s a really great group of girls and having the opportunity to be a captain with Emma, who I have been playing squash together with for so long, is a privilege,” Huffman said.
Huffman recently took two journeys overseas, one of which was a squash trip. She competed in the British Junior Open Squash Championships — the most prestigious junior squash competition in the world.
“The British Open is one of my favorite tournaments to compete in,” Huffman said. “At that tournament, you get to play different kids from all over the world, which is a really nice experience.”
On Tuesday, Huffman returned from a trip to China her Greenwich Academy AP Chinese Expedition class made. The journey started in Beijing and ended in Shanghai.
“We traveled around China for 12 days, it was great,” she said. “It was definitely cool to experience a different culture and see the culture change between there and the U.S.”
Carney, has played at both the first and second spots for the Gators. She too, has been a mainstay with the varsity program for four seasons. At last year’s U.S. High School Team Squash Championships, Carney was a 3-0 winner in her matchup at the No. 1 position against Agnes Irwin School in the finals.
Like Huffman and many of her teammates, Carney competes on the US Squash circuit throughout the year. Being a part of the GA team is especially rewarding to Carney.
“Playing squash at school has been a different experience than playing in individual tournaments,” Carney said. “It’s cool to be a part of a team. Most of us are looking to play college squash, so being on this team gives us an idea of what college squash will be like. I really like the team dynamic and the fact that you always have someone rooting for you.”
Carney began playing the sport as an 8-year-old and started playing competitively under the direction of coach Kumail Mehmood, who currently runs Sportsplex in Stamford.
“I was more of a tennis player before I began playing squash,” said Carney, who is also a standout on GA’s tennis team. “I hadn’t really heard of squash, before I started playing. I definitely think the mental aspect of tennis has helped me on the squash court.”
The Gators have a new-look lineup due to the graduation of the Aube and Stephenson twins. The players, who have earned spots on the varsity A squad this year for the first time, have indeed risen to the occasion.
“We lost four incredible seniors last year, two sets of twins,” Butterworth said. “It has been an interesting challenge for the younger players to step in their shoes. But they have shown that they have the ability to challenge at the top level. They are all very talented players.”
Added Carney: “The new additions to the team have been really great. We all know each other from playing in tournaments, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Junior Brecon Welch has risen to the No. 3 spot in the lineup for GA, which most likely, will receive the No. 1-seed in the Division I bracket at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships.
“Brecon has surprised us with some of her performances,” Butterworth said. “She beat a great player from Rye Country Day in a match here at GA and is playing very well. She has stuck to her tactics and has shown a lot of discipline.”
Emma Trauber, a freshman, has flourished in her first season on the squad at No. 4. She advanced to the quarterfinals in her bracket at the British Junior Open.
“We’re excited to see her compete at this year’s nationals,” Butterworth said.
Junior Lindsay Westerfield, who clinched GA’s victory against Agnes Irwin in the finals of the national championships last season at the sixth spot, is excelling at No. 5, while senior Megan Meyerson has led the squad at No. 6. Meyerson will join the squash team at Columbia University.
“Megan has really developed her skills the last couple of seasons,” Butterworth said. “I’m really excited to see how she will do at this year’s nationals.”
Seniors Penny Oh (No. 7) and Charlotte Gillis (No. 8) will also keep their squash careers going at the collegiate level. Oh will play at the University of Pennsylvania and Gillis is heading to Cornell to compete.
“It’s exciting for me as a coach to inspire their passion for squash and then see them take their passion to college,” Butterworth said. “I keep track of all of our alumni to see how they are playing in college.”
Sophomores Bella Trauber and Mary Duffy round out Greenwich Academy’s deep and talented lineup. GA visits neighborhood rival Sacred Heart Greenwich on Monday at 4 p.m. The U.S. High School Team Championships is scheduled for Feb. 21-23 and the NEPSAC Championships are slated for Feb. 28-March 1.
Greenwich Academy has won 12 national squash titles and 16 NEPSAC Championships.
“Winning nationals is definitely the big goal for us,” Carney said. “Since a lot of our team is new, we know it is going to be a challenge to do it again. But if we keep training hard and remain focused we have the potential to win it again.”
Added Huffman: “Everyone is really excited about nationals. Luke and our coaches do a great job of keeping us motivated. They push us to the next level and help us stick to our game plan.”