SCH junior Henry Kelly (right) lines up a shot while Malvern’s Harrison Locke stands clear. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

SCH junior Henry Kelly (right) lines up a shot while Malvern’s Harrison Locke stands clear. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

The racquetmen of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy launched their 2014-15 squash season last Thursday afternoon, breezing by the Friars of Malvern Prep, 9-0. Although the Blue Devils won their opener easily, this is not the same squad that went undefeated in regular-season matches last winter and won both the Inter-Ac League and Mid-Atlantic Squash Association championships.

Lost through graduation were Mason Blake, Brian Giegerich, Phil Kelly, and Sean Kenny, who all played in the top four or five positions through much of the 2013-14 campaign. In the season that has just begun, the new-look Blue Devils will have to wary of formidable foes such as Haverford School, which returns the most top talent of any Inter-Ac League program, and Germantown Friends, which did not graduate a single player from its 2013-14 line-up.

It was evident last Thursday that Malvern is not ready to join the list of bona fide title contenders, either in the Inter-Ac or MASA. On an afternoon when SCH won all nine individual contests in three straight games, some of the most convincing victories were fashioned by two juniors playing at lower end of the ladder. At number eight, the Devils’ Andrew Dolente topped Malvern 11th-grader Alex Sorenson, 11-2, 11-1, 11-0, and in the ninth spot Billy Harris of the host team went by visiting senior Dave Wright, 11-1, 11-1, 11-3.

The other two juniors in Springside Chestnut Hill’s line-up, Henry Kelly and Harrison Kapp, held down the fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Kelly, the brother of 2014 grad Phil Kelly, handled Harrison Locke, a Malvern senior, 11-5, 11-1, 11-6. Kapp prevailed in a competitive opening game against Friars senior Willis Moyer, 11-7, then the Devils’ number six fully opened the throttle and roared through each of the next two rounds at 11-1.

SCH’s top-ranked sophomore, Chris Dalglish, was sitting this match out due to a minor injury, while two of his classmates, Zane Jeka and Luke Stauffer, were both in action. Zeka, like Kapp, picked up steam as his contest progressed, and he put up scores of 11-8, 11-2, 11-3 in his number three match with Malvern senior Mike Lemond. In the seventh spot, Stauffer was also facing a Friars senior, Mac Updike, and the younger player prevailed, 11-4, 11-2, 11-4.

Three of the top four positions featured Blue Devil seniors. At number one, Matt Geigerich knocked off another 12th grader, Vince Warzecha, 11-6, 11-2, 11-4. Giegerich has already received a “likely letter” from Dartmouth College, where his brother, Brian, is a freshman playing for the Big Green.

The number two match was also a set-to between seniors, with victor Brian Hamilton of Springside Chestnut Hill allowing visitor Steve Conduit two points in each of the first two games, and just one in the third. At number four, the hosts’ Michael Bown dispatched Malvern sophomore Tommy White, 11-5, 11-1, 11-3.

Ordinarily, SCH probably would have diluted its industrial-strength line-up with some younger athletes for an outing like this, but on this particular afternoon the Blue Devils’ “B” team was also hosting a match. This second visiting squad was the varsity from Shipley School, which won 6-3. SCH freshman Jared Yetter won by forfeit because Shipley did not bring a number nine player, and the other two W’s for the Blue Devils were also came from ninth-graders, number five Joe Fabiani (3-2) and number seven Charlie Randall (3-1).