Germantown Friends eighth-grader Daisy Lentz releases the ball as she eyes up a serve. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Germantown Friends eighth-grader Daisy Lentz releases the ball as she eyes up a serve. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Dominating the bottom of the squash ladder, visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy held a 4-3 edge over the girls of Germantown Friends near the end of last Thursday’s non-league girls’ match at Germantown Cricket Club. In the last two matches on the court, a senior and a freshman came through for the host Tigers, who pulled out a 5-4 victory and raised their record to 2-0.

In one of the deciding bouts late in the day, GFS ninth-grader Alex Pear took a straight-games decision from Blue Devils sophomore Joia McGivern, 11-5, 11-3, 14-12. Two seniors squared off at number one in the concluding contest, where Germantown’s Annie Tyson opened with an 11-4 win, and visiting Francesca Fabiani drew even by taking the second game, 11-9. Tyson reasserted herself, winning each of the next two games at 11-3 to wrap up the overall win for the Tigers.

The resulting 2-0 record was encouraging for GFS, especially in light of the fact that the girls squash program at the school has been the victim of a sort of double whammy in the personnel department. One of the two regular starters who graduated from last year’s GFS team happened to be one of the best players ever to come out of the Philadelphia area, Chestnut Hill native Olivia Feichter.

With Fiechter now at Princeton University and already playing number one for those “other” Tigers, current senior Grayson Melby was expected to move up from the number two spot she occupied throughout the 2013-14 campaign. Unfortunately, the Stanford-bound Melby was injured in a soccer playoff game on November 10, suffering a torn ACL that will have her sidelined for what would’ve been her final scholastic squash season.

As a result, Tyson, who performed in the number three spot last winter, has been dropped in the hot seat at number one, where she will be squaring off against every opposing team’s top player.

Springside Chestnut Hill, which slipped to 1-2 last Thursday, has been strong in the middle and bottom portions of the line-up for the past several seasons. The pattern appears to be continuing, as the Blue Devils captured the number six through number nine matches against Germantown Friends. Allison Day, one of two seniors in the Blue Devils’ line-up, won her number nine match against freshman Celia Meyer, a squash novice, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5.

The other three SCH players on the lower half of the Devils’ ladder are all freshman. Number six Lily Soroko got through a tough opening game against Tigers junior Elizabeth Wallace, 14-12, then clinched the bout with 11-8, 11-1 wins. Another junior-freshman face-off occurred in the seventh spot, with Isabel Schmidt of the host team bowing to Hannah Larkin, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3.

The third Blue Devil ninth-grader, Grace Rorke, turned in a very consistent performance at number eight, winning all three games at 11-2 against Tigers senior Ann Carpenter.

At number five, SCH’s Grace Torsella took a 2-1 lead over fellow sophomore Caroline Caraballo, but the GFS ninth-grader pulled even at 2-2 in the fourth 11-7 game of the contest. Caraballo then put the match in the Tigers’ column, taking the fifth frame, 11-4. Shortly before that encounter ended, senior Hannah Safford had delivered for Germantown at number three. Surviving several game points in the second game, she got past visiting sophomore Taylor Ferry, 12-10, 15-13, 11-6.

There was an added bonus for the Tigers senior shortly after the match. Going online, she discovered that she had been officially accepted at Brown University.

Early on in the number two match, it appeared that the additional experience of SCH junior Samira Baird might give her an edge over a very talented GFS eighth-grader.

Baird pocketed the first two rounds at 11-9, but Germantown’s Daisy Lentz regrouped and leveled the match at 2-2 with scores of 11-7, 11-4. The fifth game was a battle royal, with the young Tiger finally prevailing, 16-14.

That brought the home team within one match of the visitors, at 3-4, and set the stage for the late afternoon heroics of Pear and Tyson. Tyson, like Safford, has her college course charted; she’ll be part of the fledgling franchise at the University of Virginia, which is making a strong commitment to the sport.