by Tom Utescher
With schools around the Philadelphia area opening squash facilities that incorporate nine or ten courts or more, it’s possible to hold boys’ and girls’ varsity matches simultaneously, and that’s what Penn Charter did last Thursday at its four-year-old Kline & Specter racquet complex.
The arrangement worked out well for visiting Episcopal Academy, which won 15 of the 18 official matches on the agenda, prevailing 6-3 in the girls’ competition and sweeping the boys’ match, 9-0.
It was the season opener for the Episcopal boys, while Charter already had a 7-2 win over Shipley under its belt. The Quakers’ girls’ team had also beaten Shipley (6-3), while the EA Churchwomen arrived on School House Lane last Thursday with an 0-1 mark, having suffered a 4-5 setback against Baldwin School.
Penn Charter’s senior co-captains, number two Tara Harrington and number three Amanda Roberts, provided two of the three PC victories overall. Harrington took down visitor Sydney Francis, 11-2, 11-8, 11-1, while another EA junior, Meredith Nelson, fell to Roberts, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5. Each member of the talented tandem is almost certainly headed for an Ivy League university, but last week neither was quite ready to announce her decision.
The other “W” against EA for the host school came in the girls’ number four bout, where freshman Izzy Hirshberg overcame Episcopal eighth-grader Julia Thompson, 11-6, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5.
The only five-game match of the afternoon involved the number one players on the female side, PC sophomore Margaux Losty and EA junior Grace Van Arkel. Losty went up 2-1 (11-7, 13-11, 11-5), but Van Arkel rallied to take the next two rounds (11-7, 11-6) and lock up the victory.
This was the last match on the court, and the Churchwomen had already clinched the team triumph by winning at positions five through nine, all in straight games. Playing in those spots for Penn Charter were sophomore Danielle Reisley, junior Ryan Shaffer, sophomore Leigh Steinberg, junior Emma Ebert, and senior Suzy Bonn, and their EA opponents were (in the same descending order) eighth-grader Madison Soukup, junior Taryn Gallagher, eighth-grader Colby Gallagher, senior Alex Leto, and freshman Callie Avellino.
The Penn Charter boys’ squad is more experienced than last year’s youthful franchise, but Episcopal looks to be one of the top teams in the country this winter. Only one Quakers player, junior number five Scott Marcus, was able to win a game during the match, falling 1-3 to Patrick McCarthy, a senior for the Churchmen.
Former Under-17 national champion Devin McLaughlin defeated Charter number one Randy Beck in a bout between juniors, and two seniors squared off in the second spot, with Tyler Odell of EA taking the measure of PC’s Alex Reisley. Luke Angelakis of the Quakers succumbed to fellow junior Jamie Ruggerio at number three, and one rung below another 11th-grader, Episcopal’s Kevin Flannery, defeated senior Luke Schweitzer of the host school.
In matches six through nine the winners for the visitors were freshman Clark Doyle, seniors Billy Kacergis and John Heil, and freshman Will Ruggerio, while coming out on the short end for PC were sophomore Quinn Crofton, freshman Aiden Porges, sophomore Noah Hollin, and freshman Owen Davis.