by Tom Utescher

The Springside Chestnut Hill Academy girls closed out the first week of their 2011-2012 squash season in front of a home crowd last Friday, sweeping visiting St. Andrew’s School, 9-0. Only two of the nine individual contests went past the minimum number of three games in the best-of-three matches.

The convincing victory balanced the Lions’ record at 1-1, as it followed a 4-5 loss to a hybrid team made up of players from two Main Line high schools, Harriton and Lower Merion.

Against St. Andrew’s, sophomore number six Courtney Hamilton was one of the first SCHA players to finish up, and she dispatched visiting junior Maggie Whiteman, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3. Also among the first set of matches on display was the number four bout between Saints junior Abigail Smith and Lions senior Kelly Brady.

Brady, one of the team co-captains for the host school, won 11-8, 11-6, 11-4, but her fellow captain, number one Libbie Maine, was on the court a little longer in the number one spot. Maine opened with an 11-7 win, then St. Andrew’s senior Cesca Fleischer rebounded to take the second game by an identical score.

Fleischer went up 4-1 in the third round, but Maine employed some well-placed drop shots to stage a comeback, winning 11-6. The SCHA senior went on to take the fourth game at 11-4, securing match point on a dink that died up in the right corner.

The sophomore number two for the hosts, Caroline Canning, built up her endurance by running cross country during the fall season, but she didn’t need exceptional stamina against her Delaware opponent last Friday. Her squash skills did the trick as she rolled to an 11-0, 11-0, 11-4 triumph against Saints senior Kara McDonough.

One rung down the ladder, ninth grader Francesca Fabiani was taking on a St. Andrew’s junior, Celeste Lancaster. “Fab Fran” breezed in the opener, 11-5, then Lancaster rose up to claim the second segment, 11-9. The SCHA freshman dug in and took the next two frames at 11-7 to chalk up the victory.

Three seasoned seniors took care of business on other rungs of the SCHA team ladder. Facing fellow upperclassman Molly Belk, the Lions’ Ellie Stout fought off a challenge in the third round to wrap up the number five match in straight games, 11-3, 11-4, 12-10, while Sam Blake rolled past Saints junior Aggy Barnowski in the seventh spot, 11-4, 11-3, 11-2.

SCHA’s eighth player, Lacey Swift-Farley, was pushed by visiting sophomore Liza Calkins, but she still won 3-0 with scores of 11-8, 13-11, and 11-6. Swift-Farley’s sister Lyles, one year older, is a 2011 Germantown Friends School graduate who is now playing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hannah Baxter completed the sweep for the Lions last Friday; the junior was a 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 winner over St. Andrew’s sophomore number nine, Sara Coyne. Performing for the hosts in exhibition matches for the hosts were sophomore Nina Nalle and senior Becca Sheppard, daughter of SCHA coach Rich Sheppard.

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