Seventh-grader Mark Dolente stepped up to play with the Blue Devils’ varsity A squad against Penn Charter. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Going by the prior results of squash matches for the boys of Penn Charter and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, last Thursday’s head-to-head meeting between the Quakers and the Blue Devils looked to be a close encounter. That proved to be the case on PC’s Kline & Specter Squash Courts, as the host Quakers won at the top and bottom of the ladder, but visiting SCH claimed enough matches in between to emerge with a 5-4 victory.

The record for the Blue Devils’ varsity “A” team improved to 5-2, while Penn Charter settled back down to .500 with a 5-5 mark. SCH’s two setbacks both came against Inter-Ac League rivals; 2018 champion Episcopal Academy and runner-up Haverford School.

Springside Chestnut Hill also has a varsity “B” team and this squad had faced PC’s regular varsity back in the middle of December, when the Quakers prevailed, 5-4.

For last week’s contest on School House Lane, the Blue Devils brought their varsity “A” squad, with one slightly unusual addition. Coming up to the top level to play in the number nine spot was Mark Dolente, still a seventh-grader at Springside Chestnut Hill.

With SCH skipper Mike Jefferys under the weather, Blue Devils’ girls’ varsity coach Janine Mazzarelli took the helm for the boys’ match on Thursday. This meant that the mentors of both teams were serving not only as coaches, but also parents.

Mazzarelli’s sons, junior James and sophomore Christian, played the number two and three spots for SCH, respectively, while PC Director of Squash Damon Leedale-Brown has an eighth-grade son, Oliver, who played number six for the Quakers.

Tom Bradbeer, a Penn Charter junior, chases a ball in the front of to court during last Thursday’s match. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

In all, there were four middle-schoolers engaged in this upper school varsity contest, although this is not unheard of in racquet sports. Leedale-Brown won his bout over SCH junior Peter Kapp, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, while the Blue Devils’ Dolente succumbed to PC sophomore Jack Kennedy, 11-7, 11-5, 11-1.

A second Penn Charter eighth-grader, Hyun Su Price, played at number five and was matched up against visiting senior Joe Fabiani, who won in four games, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7. At number eight on the ladder, Springside Chestnut Hill eighth-grader Drew Bown downed his host, junior Rohan Bhambhani, 11-7, 11-5, 11-1.

Bown’s older brother Matt, a junior, won 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 over PC’s freshman number four, Ryan Yeatman, and with SCH sophomore Charlie Larkin taking the number seven contest over Quakers junior Tom Bradbeer (11-2, 11-3, 11-6), the Blue Devils were closing in on a team victory, up 4-2.

Clinching the win for Coach Mazzarelli was her son Christian, who secured the number three match over PC senior Ben Swanson, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9.

The Quakers made the final reckoning a close one, as two of their seniors overcame a pair of SCH juniors in the top two flights.

Charter number one Marco Rodriguez, who will take his game to the next level at Tufts University, put up an 11-6 score in the opening game. He would win 3-0, but SCH junior Michael Berry really made him work for the last two, 14-12, 15-13.

The older Mazzarelli, James, was lined up in the second spot against Charter’s Marker Angelakis, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania. The PC senior won the opener, 12-10, then Mazzarelli went ahead in the match with convincing wins in the next two games, 11-4, 11-3. The level-headed Angelakis first drew even by prevailing 12-10 in game four, then he won the fifth, 11-8, bringing Penn Charter back within one match in the final team score.

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