by Tom Utescher
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s racquetmen happen to play in the same league as one of the top high school squash teams in the country, and last Monday the formidable Episcopal Academy Churchmen overpowered host SCH, 8-1.
However, over the next year or so, the Blue Devils’ varsity program will be getting a boost from the current members of the school’s middle school team, which recently finished second at the 2012 U.S. Middle School Team Squash Championships. Eighth graders Hunter Ferry, Billy Harris, Harrison Kapp and Henry Kelly and seventh graders Christopher Dalglish, Griffin Glendinning and Luke Stauffer made up the SCH contingent that travelled to Yale University for the national event, which was held January 27-29.
Seeded second in the draw and enjoying a bye in the opening round, SCH started out against Rye (N.Y.) Country Day School, which had won its first-round match, 5-0. The Blue Devils prevailed 4-1, then in the semifinals they rolled to a 5-0 victory over New York City’s Middle School 45.
Next up was defending national champion Brunswick Academy of Greenwich, Conn., an all-boys school that attracts much of the top squash talent in its general vicinity. The Bruins retained their title with a 5-0 win. In the top spot, the Blue Devils’ Dalglish had to face David Yaccobucci, the fourth-ranked player in the country in the Under-15 category.
Three of the local players, Kelly, Stauffer, and Ferry, were able to capture a game off of their Brunswick rivals.
That same weekend, members of the SCH varsity team were competing in a tournament at Lawrenceville School, and then the schedule called for them to come right back on Monday to play the defending high school national champion, Episcopal.
Earlier last month, the Blue Devils lost a close match at EA, 4-5, but there were several reasons why the rematch would be tougher for the locals. SCH junior Peter Ferraro, the regular number six player, participated in the contest at Episcopal, but after playing on an injured foot at the subsequent Lawrenceville tourney, he had to sit out for the second encounter with the Churchmen.
In addition, EA had freshman number four Sean Hughes back in the line-up. Currently the top-ranked player in the U.S. Under-15’s, Hughes had missed the first SCH-EA bout on January 11. The resulting bump-up’s and bump-down’s made for rough going for the Devils.
In the lone five-game contest of the day, sophomore Philip Kelly saved SCH from a sweep, outlasting Episcopal junior Jamie Ruggerio, 6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9.
The other eight Devils succumbed to the Churchmen, but two players were able to take a game from their opponents. Number two Augie Frank opened up with an 11-6 win, then lost the next three games to fellow senior Tyler Odell, 8-11, 9-11, 8-11. In the sixth spot another SCH senior, Alex Ambrosini, fell to junior Patrick McCarthy, 7-11, 12-10, 6-11, 7-11.
Two juniors met in the number one match. Alex McCall of the host team went ahead 5-3 in the initial game, but visitor Devin McLaughlin rallied to win, 11-8. The methodical McLaughlin, ranked fourth nationally in the Under-19 class, prevailed in the next two games, 11-6, 12-10.
The aforementioned Hughes went past the Devils’ sophomore number four, Brian Giegerich, 11-4, 11-2, 11-8, and one rung down the ladder, junior Kevin Flannery of Episcopal topped another SCH tenth grader, Mason Blake, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7.
Geigerich’s younger brother, Matt, faced a fellow freshman in the eighth position, and an 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 victory went to Clark Doyle of the Churchmen. At number seven, visiting sophomore Andrew Stone struggled to over come SCH junior Christian Dorff in the first frame, 15-13, but Stone used the momentum from that win to secure the next two games, 11-3, 11-4.
A pair of seniors had at it in the ninth spot, and here EA’s Billy Kacergis defeated Sam Sheppard, 11-4, 11-8, 11-2.