by Tom Utescher
As the winter squash season wound down, a number of area racquet players were honored for serving (and volleying) with distinction.
Chestnut Hill native Olivia Fiechter, who was featured in the March 13 edition of the LOCAL, added to her list of accomplishments. After reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Squash Championships at Princeton University, the Germantown Friends senior received official recognition for her sportsmanship and character as she was presented with the 2014 DeRoy Sportsmanship Award.
U.S. Squash quoted Fiechter as commenting “I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish my junior career. I’ve seen so many great players receive this award since I was a younger player, so it’s an honor to be joining them.”
She will be seeing a lot more of Princeton in the future; it was her choice out of the many top squash programs who lined up to recruit her.
Former Chestnut Hill Academy star Gilly Lane, 28, was nominated by the U.S. Squash National Teams Committee for the U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year Award.
Lane was the first player nominated for this award by U.S. Squash since 2001, and the move was inspired by his successful return to international competition in 2013. A University of Pennsylvania graduate and now an assistant coach for the Quakers, Lane retired from the pro squash circuit in 2011 due to a back injury.
Early last year, he once again was wielding a racquet in earnest, making it to the finals of the SL Green U.S. Squash Championship and then playing for the United States at the 2013 Men’s World Team Championships in France. He went 5-1 in his six matches there, defeating the player who was then ranked 41st in the world, and also a former number seven.
He was a semifinalist at both the Pan-American Federation Cup competition last September, and in this year’s SL Green Championship.
Lane was also a member of a victorious men’s team that represented the Philadelphia Cricket Club in the doubles league sponsored by the Philadelphia Squash Racquets Association. Also on the roster were Joe Fabiani, Brenner Green, Stephen Gregg, Duncan Pearson, Parth Sharma, Rich Sheppard, and Nat Taylor. They defeated a side from the Wilmington Country Club in the finals of the 2014 Men’s “A” Doubles League tournament.
Sheppard also competed individually in Charlottesville, Va. last month, winning the 55+ division at the 2014 U.S. Masters Squash Championships by pulling out a 3-2 final against Jonathan Foster of Los Angeles. A 1977 graduate of the old Chestnut Hill Academy, Sheppard is the coach of the girls’ varsity squash team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.