California Summer Gold

A weekend of great squash, fair play and camaraderie was enjoyed as Squash Zone and Bay Club Redwood Shores played host to over 200 of the best squash players in the nation this past weekend at the California Summer Gold.

Across 4 age groups the Northern Californian juniors contingent performed particularly well taking home several titles. The female squash players almost had a clean sweep of titles with winners in the GU11, GU15, GU17 and GU19. In the boys’ divisions we had one winner in B U11 and finalists in BU13, BU15, BU17 and BU19. These results highlight the depth of talent that is continuing to flourish in Northern California along with the growing numbers of squash players in this region.

The sweeping of the boards in the girls division started in the Girls U11 with Shriya Viswanathan (Palo Alto) who beat Texan Zaina Zaidi in a close 4 game match, here 3 of the top 4 players were from California with the winner of the Consolation Plate Denali Pannu also hailing from the area (San Mateo).
The Girls U13 was the only age group where the West didn’t have representation in the finals but we did have local interest in the semi-finals in the form of Ashna Tumuluri and Julie Abdelaziz and yet another local girl winning the Consolation Plate; Eedha Mehta of Los Altos.

Five local players who train frequently together shared the spoils for the top spots in the Girls U15; Riddhi Joshi of Fremont sailed to victory in her maiden Gold title of the summer without dropping a game. The finalist Riya Navani also of Fremont overcame Marin based Nina Hassan in the semis in a 5 game battle and Claudia Adam (Cupertino) brought home the Consolation Plate winner’s trophy thus ensuring a bright future for female squash on the west coast.

In the older age groups it was a family affair in the Girls U 17 with Sho Sho Ho (Los Altos) winning the competition without dropping a game, meanwhile younger sister Madison held her own eventually losing out in the Consolation Plate finals.

The final girls match of the day took place between Cassie Ong (Fremont) and Serena Daniel (Saratoga) in the Girls U19 final. A closely contested 4 game saw Ong prevail as the eventual winner in a match which drew a good crowd at Squash Zone. The West coast was again represented well throughout the draw with Katherine Sapinski (San Francisco) taking the Consolation Plate trophy.

The accolades speak for themselves: four age group winners, two finalists, four Consolation Plate winners – a tally worthy of mention as the girls in Northern California continue to dominate regional and national squash tournaments, a bright future indeed for west coast squash. Congrats to all!

Meanwhile in the Boys divisions results were more varied due to a strong east coast presence in the tournament. Nonetheless California had finalists in every age group and a winner in B U11.

The young Anay Sawant of Sunnyvale beat unseeded Calder Murray in the final here only dropping one game for the duration of the event. Murray had upset seedings by taking out the number 2 seed and prior to that, Faizan Mustafa (Dublin). However Mustafa rallied to take the Consolation Plate to avenge this early round loss.

Yet more local interest with a sibling of Denali Pannu who competed in the G U11; Himanshu managed to take out number 2 and 3 seed on his way to the final. He couldn’t make it past Michael Knapp but a valiant effort in getting that far. Meanwhile Zane Patel (Palo Alto) had a tough first round loss but bounced back to win the Consolation Plate.

Ahmed Haq (Santa Clara) was the star of the B U15 with his surprise win in the semi finals coming from a 2-1 game deficit to beat the number 1 seed Hamza Mian who had come across from New Jersey. John Gunton also of New Jersey denied the local boy the title but job well done on getting that far.

While there was good representation in the B U 17 Ryan Chen of New York took home the title in comfortable fashion but the surprise element from Zach Nam from Porter Ranch left a few feeling unsettled in their seedings. Nam, unseeded, made it all the way to the finals with each round as close as the last. In the Consolation Neal Malani (Saratoga) recovered from the disappointment of a second round loss to make it to the finals.

In the B U19 event the standard was high and local interest similar with Garrett Kitahata putting on a notable performance losing out in a nail biting 5th game tie breaker and Adam Lichtmacher of San Francisco making it to the finals taking out the number 2 seed along the way. Dana Santry was the winner in this age group but lost his only game of the tournament to Adam in the final.

All in all, spectators and players alike enjoyed a weekend of exciting squash. With the emergence of new stars and old favourites it’s safe to say squash in the Bay Area and California in general has never been stronger.