by Tom Utescher
In their last squash match before the holiday break, the boys of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy encountered one of the best opponents they’ll see all season. Fellow Inter-Ac League member Episcopal Academy came to call last Thursday afternoon, and although the host Blue Devils won a respectable share of points in most of the individual bouts, they bowed to the Churchmen, 9-0, all in straight sets.
It was the season opener for EA, but SCH had already played two matches. The Blue Devils started out with a narrow loss on the road at Lawrenceville School (4-5), then won their December 11 home opener handily (8-1) over nearby rival Penn Charter.
Last Thursday at Springside Chestnut Hill, Episcopal laid the groundwork for its team victory with wins on the middle and lower rungs of the team ladder.
Blue Devils seniors Austin Youngren, Tommy Scanlin, and Chase Rotelle were playing at number six, seven, and eight, respectively. Peter Lim of the Churchmen won in the sixth spot, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6, and prevailing at seven and eight were Bobby Albani (11-7, 11-7, 11-5) and Billy Stavropoulis (11-5, 12-10, 11-6).
SCH junior Philip McDowell played number five against visitor Neil Bam, who won 11-7, 11-8, 11-9, and another 11th-grader, Sam Pagon, fell to Episcopal number nine Albert Chen, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7.
The youngest member of the Blue Devils’ line-up, sophomore Drew Bown, was positioned at number three, where Sameer Saxena won for the Churchmen, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4. Immediately above and below Bown in the SCH order were seniors Chase Cook and Jake Scholl. EA’s Tom Hogan overcame Cook at number two, 11-2, 11-6, 11-4, while Nikhil Kakarla claimed the number four match for the visitors, topping Scholl, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9.
The sixth senior in action for Springside Chestnut Hill was number one Charlie Larkin, who was pitted against EA’s Shaam Gambhir. The plucky Larkin kept pace up through the middle of each of the first two games, but Gambhir then pulled away to win, 11-7, 11-6.
Larkin did not fade in the third game though, and reached game point at 10-8. Gambhir fought through this and several other game points for the SCH player, and the talented Episcopal sophomore eventually prevailed, 14-12.
The Blue Devils can look forward to what appears to be a fairly even match-up in mid-January against a Northwest Philly rival, Germantown Friends. Like SCH, the GFS Tigers knocked off Penn Charter with matches to spare, winning 6-3 over the Quakers at the beginning of December.
SCH and GFS will square off on January 22 at the Germantown Cricket Club.