NorCal Squash’s annual team tournament wrapped up with some spectacular squash at the Bay Club San Francisco April 19-21. The top teams in four divisions represented the Bay Area from Marin to San Jose and San Francisco to San Ramon. Congratulations to all the players for a great season and making it into the finals. After many hard fought matches the winners were:
Squash Zone hosted the 2nd edition of the annual Squash Zone Silver on March 29-31st. With a entry list of over 80 and plenty local and out of state interest, juniors converged on the facility in Redwood City for a fun yet competitve weekend of squash supported by NorCal Squash.
BU11: This age group definitely won the hearts of all the spectators, with rackets nearly as tall as themselves 11 kids battled it out for the prize. Gautham Suresh prevailed in a very closely fought 5 game match on the glass court. Suresh held a off a spirited defense from Arjya Saha who came back to level the match from 2 games down but couldn’t quite edge it in the 5th game. A match played with great sportsmanship and skill, truly a joy to watch.
BU13: Two round robins culminated in Abhinav Athreya facing off against Faizaan Mustafa in the final on Sunday morning. Again, as in the Bu11 final, Abinav went 2 games up in the first two games only to see his lead shattered as Faizaan made his way back to a 2-2 tie. In the 5th game Abhinav’s lower error count was the difference on the day and he came away with the Bu13 title.
BU15: Going to form with yet another closely contested final Nachiket Desai of Cupertino had a relatively easy run to the finals only dropping 1 game on the way. Likewise, Nikhil Prasad of Fremont reached the final smoothly winning all his matches 3-0. Prasad, playing in 2 divisions this weekend, did not let tiredness get the better of him and game back from a 2 game to 1 deficit to win 11-9 in the 5th game.
BU17: In the most populated draw of the event 24 players were whittled down to 2 players with number 1 seed Abhimanyu Gupta taking the spoils on the final match of the event. His closest match having been in the semi-finals against Bharadwaj Sasikumar where he won 3-1. In the other half of the draw Vaibhav Turaga of El Dorado Hills pulled out a suprise victory over no. 2 seed Bharadwaj’s brother Bhavesha but couldn’t quite produce the same upset losing out in 3 close games to Gupta.
Gu13: This was a combined division with Gu11 players alongside their older counterparts. Isha Gupta came out victorious with a clean record in the Round Robing winning all 3 of her matches. Eva Chow came in 2nd with her only loss coming against the eventual winner.
Gu17: This was a combined division with Gu15; the quality of play was extremely high with Dina Morsy of Danville and Ashna Tumuluri of Redwood City battling it out in the final. In a closely fought match with an 18-16 scoreline in the 3rd Dina took the trophy coming from a game down to secure a 3-1 win.
Gu19: The two round robins were won by Ellyn Xu and Fatima Abdelrahman who won all their respective matches. In a very close final where all games went down to the wire Fatima was able to nudge out a win in the 4th game tie-break to take the Squash Zone Silver title. Thank you to all those who supported this event (NorCal Squash and the team at Squash Zone). Well done to all competitors involved, it was a great weekend of high quality squash
matches, sportsmanship and camaraderie.
Bay Area squash fans look forward to fall, when the Oracle NetSuite Pro Squash
Tournament brings some of the world’s best players to town. But September, it turns out,
isn’t the only month when Bay Area residents get to see professional squash players in
Just last month, NorCal Squash helped sponsor the Redwood Shores Open 2019, a PSA
Closed Satellite ($1K) tournament that took place at the Bay Club Redwood Shores. From
March 21-23, Bay Club members and guests enjoyed some riveting matches, featuring a
mix of foreign players as well as top local men and juniors. Out of a highly competitive
draw of 16 players, it was two local pros who emerged for the Saturday afternoon finals,
Mustafa Nawar (of Squash Zone) and Charlie Johnson (of BCRS). In front of a capacity
crowd packed behind court #4 (set up with the 17” tin that the pros use), Johnson survived
a tightly contested 4 games to take the winner’s purse of $400.
The tournament began Thursday afternoon with the round of 16 matches. The top 4 seeds
each advanced in 3 games: Nawar (#1 seed) topped local junior, Varun Chitturi (a finalist at
the US Junior Nationals in Boys U15); Cole Becker of Princeton University (#2 seed) pushed
past former Harvard ace Zeke Scherl; Johnson (#3 seed) got through a strong Chris
Lambrou, a South African currently living in Sacramento; and the seasoned English pro
Chris Fuller (#4 seed) defeated Bay Club whiz kid Garrett Kitahata (#30, U19).
In the remaining 4 matches, Stanford University coach Nick Talbott came up against some
strong physicality and shot-making from Mukunth Gopalakrishnan (#5, U15), on his way to
a 3-0 win over the local junior. Another former Harvard star, Nigel Koh, fought back
against local pro Zephan Huang to level the match 2-2, before falling 11-9 in an exciting 5th
game. Elsewhere, top local juniors were tested by the visiting Egyptian players – Udai Pal
(#20, U19) came up just short against North Cairo-based Ahmed Abualela (3-1), while
Dillon Huang (also a finalist at US Junior Nationals, ranked # 2, U19) played a quality match
with Marwan Mahmoud, from Alexandria, Egypt, before falling in 3 games. The irony of the
pair meeting at this event did not go unnoticed; Mahmoud graduated last spring from the
University of Pennsylvania, where he often played #1 for the Quakers, while Huang is
headed off to UPenn in the fall, where he will attempt to follow in the alum’s footsteps.
Quarter-final play on Friday delivered some great action: Nawar defeated a tenacious
Talbott in a very entertaining match; Becker squeezed past an incredibly steady Z. Huang,
and Johnson beat the hard-hitting Abualela in 3 very competitive games.
But the game of the day belonged to Marwan Mahmoud vs. Chris Fuller. Fuller, a PSA
stalwart who has been ranked as high as #86 in the world, delivered textbook English-style
play (rails, lobs, patience!) against the aggressive play and shot-making of the Egyptian.
Mahmoud took the first game comfortably, but Fuller battled back, steadily grinding down
Mahmoud and frustrating him to win the next 2 games and go up 2-1. But the Egyptian was
not done; after conferring with Nawar and Abualela between games, he roared back to win the 4th and take the match to a 5th . Tied at 2-2 in that decisive game, Mahmoud went on a
run to get to 6-2. Strong play by Fuller erased a few points but Mahmoud surged ahead to a
10-5 lead. Fuller battled back to 8-10 but Mahmoud won the decisive last rally – a standing
ovation followed, for what was easily one of the best matches of the tournament.
Mahmoud would need all the rest he could, as his Saturday’s semi-finals against fellow
Egyptian Nawar was equally epic. In a match that lasted over one hour, the two former
training partners from Alexandria, Egypt, battled it out with pace, deception, and exquisite
ball-control. The final score: Nawar eked out the win 10-12, 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, and 11-9,
before a very appreciative audience. Saturday’s second semi-final pitted Cole Becker
against his former coach Johnson in a re-match of their November PSA finals at Squash
Zone (in which Johnson was injured) – this time Johnson prevailed 3-1 as he fired on all
cylinders in front of the home-club crowd. Reffing official Aisling Blake lent a professional
atmosphere to the day’s matches.
The finals between Nawar and Johnson was another brilliant contrast of styles, between
the soft touch and deft movement of the Egyptian and the steady play and relentless
volleying of Johnson. After a close first game that Johnson won 11-9, Nawar dropped the 2nd
11-4, making a number of uncharacteristic errors that may have been caused by fatigue
from his earlier 5-setter. But Nawar battled back impressively to take the 3 rd game, 11-9. In
the 4 th , both players appeared tired, and the points shorter. Finally, it was Johnson’s
retrieving skills that helped him overcome the fine shot-making of Nawar, as he went on to
take that last game, 11-6, and win the match.
Afterwards, Johnson commented on the role of the spectators in his win: “It is extra special
to play in front of of a home crowd – I tend to play my best squash when I’m at home and I
felt that today. It also gives me a chance to showcase what I teach every day to my students,
which was great since many of them were there watching.”
Tournament director Louise Ober praised the high caliber of squash throughout the
weekend: “It’s truly amazing that we had players as talented as Chris Fuller coming to our
Closed Satellite, as well up and coming Egyptian pros like Marwan and Ahmed, who will
clearly not stay long at the bottom of the PSA ranking charts. I’m sorry this tournament
can’t reward these players with more [PSA] points for their efforts, but it made for some
spectacular squash for the members, who are quite sophisticated in their appreciation of
the nuances of the game. It’s also great for our junior players to see young pros at this level,
as they consider playing squash in college and beyond. Seeing the support and enthusiasm
we had over the weekend, it would be great to do a $5K next time around. We have such a
great fan base here for squash.”
The Bay Club San Francisco is excited to host their annual Skill Level Open, a weekend of squash with players from across the Bay Area. In addition to some excellent amateur squash there will be an exhibition match between Alfredo Avila (#69) and the Bay Area’s own Charlie Johnson (#200).
Club San Francisco Skill Level Open
03/30/2019 – 03/31/2019
Exhibition match: Saturday 6:00pm | Alfredo Avila #69 vs. Charlie Johnson #200 + Q&A included for tournament participants. $25 for non-tournament player viewers.
Sign Up Here!
Contact Erick with any questions about the event – Erick.Chacon@bayclubs.com
On February 23rd, The Oakwood Squash Academy held their Winter Bronze Tournament, the first of 2019. Participants traveled from all over the Bay Area, and even as far as New York City for the event, with an especially strong local presence from SquashDrive, the East Bay’s urban squash program, Oakwood Athletic Club and ClubSport San Ramon. For many participants, this was their first squash tournament. The tournament was hosted by Torey Broderson, director and founder of the Oakwood Squash Academy junior program.
In the Girls division, over half the draw was participating in their first US Squash sanctioned event. Placing 2nd in the division and the highest for the SquashDrive team was Melanie Soberanis of Richmond, CA. Placing in 1st place was Olivia Li from the Oakwood program, who also earned her first squash trophy. Also participating were Aarushi Kodipyaka, Zoeya Ghauri and Alondra Ignacio who were all playing in their first squash tournament. The girls made a strong showing and were all competitive.
Our Boys Under 13 division was heavily contested. Previous winner Alex Jayaratne saw new competition from San Francisco and the South Bay, and lost in the Quarterfinals to Mathew Waller of San Francisco. Mathew was then defeated in a brutal 5 game match vs. Abhinav Doma of Fremont. The finals found Doma facing Gautham Suresh, a talented 8 year old from the South Bay. Gautham won convincingly, managing to drop only 1 game the entire tournament. At only 8, Gautham has beautifully developed form and has a very bright future.
The Boys Under 15 division was a 5 person round robin, of whom Christian Wee of San Francisco, and Kyle Wu from ClubSport San Ramon each had several convincing victories. Christian, nearly guaranteed the 1st place trophy after sweeping his other matches 3-0, found himself in a tough battle down 2-1 against the underdog, Raiyan Sattar. Christian dug deep and managed to squeak out a 5 game victory, completing his undefeated 4-0 run. Kyle Wu earned 2nd place thanks to his powerful serves and deep game.
A big thanks to NorCal Squash for sponsoring the event, and designer Chase Hawes for the fabulous shirt designs.
Please join us for our annual dinner, celebrating SquashDrive’s first class of college-bound high school seniors!
Thursday, March 28, 2019 The Olympic Club, 524 Post Street, San Francisco
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Cocktail Reception
7:00 pm – 9:30 pm Dinner, Evening Program & Auction
2019 SquashDrive Slam Host Committee
Amy & Mark Atkinson Grace & Tony Brettkelly Shannon & Preston Comey Leslie & Mark DeNino Lauren & James Ford Karen Franchino & W. Reed Foster, Jr. Joanna & Stephen Seelbach Missy Wyant Smit & Yvo Smit
Attire is business cocktail. For more details, contact Lauren at email@example.com
We hope to see you there! If you can not attend but would like to make a donation, please click here.
The University Club San Francisco is proud to host Ian Thomas, the coach to the Shorbagy brothers who are currently #1 & #4 in the world. He will spend the session focusing on:
How to improve your game by self hitting.
How to improvise during a game.
General tips about your game.
The clinic will be held this Thursday, December 6, from 6:30-8:30 PM. Slots are available on a first come first served basis, so be sure to sign up soon!
Contact Busani Xaba if you have any questions.
‘The Howe Cup is the United States’ largest squash event for women and an annual team championship tournament run by US Squash. The annual women’s five-person team tournament began in 1928 as an inter-city competition between New York, Philadelphia and Boston. It received the Howe Cup title in 1955 when Virginia Griggs of New York City donated a permanent trophy, the Howe Cup, named in honor of Margaret Howe and her twin daughters Peggy and Betty.’ ~USSquash.com
This year the tournament was held in Philadelphia, with teams from across the country and Canada competing. Philadelphia native and founder of the Bay Area’s Squash Drive Lauren Patrizio Xaba played in the A division for one of the Philly teams, the Philly Tasteykates. The competition was fierce in the top division, with another home team, the Philly Phab Phive, ultimately taking the title.
The B division was an equally tight race, with Courtney Sabo at the helm of the Boasting Bellas. This all California team played spectacularly, and brought the title back home to the west coast. Congratulations to Courtney Sabo (Bay Club San Francisco), Juliet Lamont (the University Club), Sara Barrett (Bay Club San Francisco), Rohini Gupta (Bay Club San Francisco), and Emilie van der Hoorn (University California San Francisco) on a great win!
Usually a strong team, this years California C team was plagued by injuries leading up to the tournament. Unable to field a full team Carrie Kahn and Kelly McKinley (both University California San Francisco) joined with several Canadian players to form the international Golden Canucks. Despite great games and tight matches, the team was knocked out in the quarter finals.
Finally, the D division saw Amanda Chew (Bay Club San Francisco) play for the New York Scared Hitless. Though the name suggests otherwise the team was calm, collected, and made it all the way from the round of 32 to the quarter finals before loosing to Chicago, who ended up winning the division.
In addition to the tournament, the players were treated to an exhibition match between Olivia Fiechter and Olivia Blatchford-Clyne. Despite knowing each other since they were juniors in highschool this is the first time the Olivia’s have battled it out on the court. Fiechter had home court advantage, but Blatchford-Clyne’s experience and patience paid off with a 3-0 victory. The matches were followed by a brief Q and A session, during which we all gained some great tips and insights. Blatchford-Clyne stressed the importance of a good warmup while Fiechter focused on nutrition as key to her performance. When asked about pre-match routines, Blatchford-Clyne admitted to her love of long hot showers before a game to clear her head. Fiechter on the other hand prefers the more horizontal approach of napping. It was an inspiring way to start off the tournament, and everyone did a great job channeling their inner Olivia’s both on and off the court.