by Tom Utescher
With an 8-1 home court win over the girls of Penn Charter last Thursday afternoon, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy evened out its squash record in the Inter-Ac League at 2-2, and closed out the 2014-15 regular season at 6-3 overall.
Every individual match was decided in three straight games last week, with junior number two Samira Baird leading the host Blue Devils in a successful run through the number two through number nine positions. Penn Charter was saved from a shutout when eighth-grader Elisabeth Ross took the number one match, the last bout of the afternoon.
In early December, the Germantown Friends team had defeated Penn Charter by a score of 6-3, then won its next match, 5-4, against SCH. Those results indicated that the meeting between the Quakers and the Blue Devils could be a close encounter, but last Thursday both Charter and SCH played line-ups different from the ones they’d deployed against GFS.
Penn Charter’s regular number one, Princeton-bound Isabel Hirshberg, was out sick, depriving the Quakers of one of the top players in the Philadelphia area and forcing everyone else to move up in the team order. In addition, a transfer student from fellow Inter-Ac member Agnes Irwin, Gabi Rodriguez, had been allowed to play against GFS (a member of the Friends Schools League), but Inter-Ac rules have prohibited her from participating in any matches within the league this winter.
On the SCH side the regular number three, sophomore Taylor Ferry, was out of town, so the Blue Devils bumped up everyone except their top two.
After a pre-game Senior Day ceremony honoring the members of the Class of 2015 at their final home match, Thursday’s contest got underway. The three seniors who would be playing for the Blue Devils would be Francesca Fabiani at number one, Allison Day at number eight, and Josephine Surer at number nine. Penn Charter seniors Claudia Dykstra and Layne Wolfington were also recognized.
Two of these upperclassmen met one another in the number eight match, where Day, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania, went past Wolfington, 11-3, 11-0, 11-3. In the ninth spot, Surer battled to win her opening game against Quakers freshman Anu Senthil, 12-10. The Blue Devil senior went on to take the next two rounds, 11-3, 11-9.
PC’s other senior, Dykstra, fell to SCH ninth-grader Hannah Larkin at number six, 11-2, 11-5, 11-3. On either side of that match were performances featuring an all-freshman cast. Blue Devils number five Lilly Soroko beat visitor Meredith Bernstein, 11-0, 11-5, 11-5, and in the seventh position Grace Rorke ruled Chloe Master, 11-0, 11-4, 11-4.
Up at number two, the Blue Devils’ Baird was taking on fellow junior Jenny Bown, whose cousin, Michael, is a member of the boys’ varsity team at SCH. Baird took the opening segment, 11-5, but Bown played better in the second game, leading 8-7 before Baird rallied to capture the next four points. The Blue Devil 11th-grader then closed out the match, 11-3, in the third.
Two tenth-graders locked down the number three and four matches for the home team. Joia McGivern cruised by PC’s freshman number three, Gwen Davis, 11-4, 11-1, 11-2, and one rung down the ladder Grace Torsella topped junior Jordyn Schwartz of the Quakers, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8.
With a team victory already in the books for Springside Chestnut Hill, everyone gathered around to watch the number one match, where either the Blue Devils would complete a sweep of the Quakers, or PC would avoid that ignominy.
SCH’s Fabiani ran up against a very talented eighth-grader, Ross. She is currently ranked eighth in the country in the Under-15’s category, where some of her rivals are almost a year older.
After the first game went to Ross at 11-4, Fabiani scored more points in the second stage, but the PC youngster still prevailed, 11-9, and then went on to win the third round, 11-2.