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Squash Zone Club Championships: 11th and 12th May 2019

The 2nd Squash Zone Club Championships started off in fine style on Friday evening with all the main ingredients present; squash players and pizza!

Many defending champions showed up in a bid to hold onto their titles and others tried their hand at the next grade up after winning their division last year. Most notable throughout the weekend was the participation of all of our new members; those players that have taken up squash in the past year came out in force, some for their first ever tournament.

With competitors ranging in age from 7 years of age to 70 Squash Zone was a hive of good natured competition throughout the weekend.

The Juniors event was a round robin format with James Yan coming out in a strong first place and Josh Zeitlin taking second. James started playing a year ago and is one to watch for the future!

In the adult sections there were 6 divisions from 3.0 (where Rhonin Faruqi triumphed over Divya Patnam in a 3 game victory in the final) to 5.5 level (where Arav Bhagwati, one of the Bay Area’s strongest juniors edging out Shivin Kumar in 4 games).

Elsewhere in the 3.5s, Chris Evdaimon won a 5 game thriller with Isha Gupta that saw Chris come from 2 games to 1 down before taking it 11-8 in the 5th game.

Meanwhile in the 4.0 division long time sparring partners Eli Abbe and Atul Tiwary faced off in the final, Eli took it in 3 games but not before dealing with 3 tie-breakers.

The 4.5 division was a youthful affair with Humza Rabbani meeting Samira Sankaran in the final, Samira is one of the many juniors at Squash Zone who will go on to play squash in college next year. Humza took the title this time in 4 close games after losing the first.

The penultimate final of the day was contested between Pankaj Srivastava and Peter Thompson – this event fittingly ending with some of our more established players taking to the courts! Pankaj won out in 3 after surviving a 3rd game tie-break.

The final of the 5.5 between Arav and Shivin was watched by an interested crowd fueled by BBQ and refreshments watching high quality squash as inspiration for next year!

Blog Juniors Norcal News Tournaments

2nd Squash Zone Silver

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.

Blog Juniors Norcal News Tournaments

Winter Bronze at the Oakwood Squash Academy

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.

Blog Juniors Norcal News Tournaments

8th Silicon Valley Junior Championships 2018

The end of August saw juniors from across the Bay Area battle it out in the junior bronze tournament at Club Sport San Ramon. Congratulations to all participants for a great weekend of squash and comradery.
Kaitlyn Vahlsing convincingly took the girls U13 trophy, and Noor Nibber took the girls U15, dropping only a single game to Kaitlyn who tried her hand in the older group as well as her own age category. The boys had a full and competitive draw, with entries in the U11, U13, U15, U17, and U19 groups. In order from youngest to oldest, congratulations to Haadi Jafry, Christian Wee, Vandrick Inman-Benavente, Saad Asad, and Ahmad Haq.

Blog Juniors Norcal News Tournaments

Squash Zone Open Junior Silver

The inaugural Squash Zone Open (Silver) was held over this past weekend at the new 5 court facility on Haven Ave in Redwood City. Led by Richard Elliott and his team – Elaine Friedland, Aisling Blake and McGee O’Neil – the newly opened facility welcomed in 103 players from all around the Bay area and beyond – Utah, Pittsburgh and LA included. The caliber of play was high throughout the weekend with many closely fought finals going down to the 5th game decider on the day.
In the Girls U-17 division Portia Pliam beat Ellyn Xu 11-8 in the 5th, and Eena Xu found success in the Girls U-15 division beating Aneesa Mustafa in the final in 4 games. Meanwhile Pliam came up against frequent training partner Sanjana Vissapragada in the Girls U-19 finals eventually losing out 11-8 in the 4th game. In the lower level age a round robin format was played out in the U-11 age group, Rachel Yun was the eventual winner by virtue of winning all her matches followed by Richa Patnam who came in second place. Richa did play in the Girls U-13 and performed well. However the spoils here went to Anushka Anand who came from 2-0 down in the final on the glass court to take the match 11-7 in the 5th against an in form Shriya Viswanathan. Consolation winners in the Girls U-13 and Girls U-15 were Jude Tantawy and Meera Ragagopal respectively – both playing with a tenacity to overcome their opponents in 5 games in their finals.
There were several sibling pairs competing in the draws – Aiden Yun, brother of Rachel, was the consolation winner of the Boys U-11, he had lost out in the 2nd round to eventual finalist Yash Moolchandani who was very happy to be playing on the glass court in his final. Faizaan Mustafa was a little too strong on the day however becoming Boys U-11 winner with a 3 game victory.
Another round robin was at play in the Boys U-13 and again, sibling force at work with Sachith Vissapragada (brother of U-19 winner Sanjana) winning all matches bar one – winner Seraph Yang took the spoils in this age group. Consolation winner Raj Bapat – the number 1 seed – was surprised in the 2nd round by unseeded Vaibhav Turaga who continued his form into the finals coming up against another intruder Ben Chen, who had dispatched Vaibhav’s brother in the quarter finals. Ben took the final in 3 games.
In the Boys U-17 category Roshan Gampala was too strong on the day for Sameer Mustafa who put up a great fight in the final. The Consolation winner was yet another brotherly affair with Bhavesha Sasikumar edging out his brother Bharadwaj in a nail-biting 5 game encounter.
Jack Huang went in as favourite in the Boys U-19 and didn’t disappoint, not dropping a game in the Round Robin. The runner up in this age group Jassem Khan from Pleasanton. Winners and runners up alike put on a great display of sportsmanship, tenacious fair play and resilience throughout the weekend. The Squash Zone team would like to thank all the participants and their parents for transporting them to and fro and hope to welcome you all back for the Summer Gold in June 22-24th.

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World class exhibition match here at Bay Club Santa Clara between Miguel Rodrigues (World #8) against Simon Rosner (World #12)

world class exhibition match here at Bay Club Santa Clara between Miguel Rodrigues (World #8) against Simon Rosner (World #12)






Juniors Norcal News Tournaments

2016 Santa Clara Bay Club Championships

This past weekend Bay Club Santa Clara hosted its 23rd annual squash club championships. The tournament received a record high Bay Club member turnout of 100 players who participated on this fun filled tournament.

During the 2-day event, we witnessed some amazing matches. One of the most memorable matches was in the Women’s 5.0 division between 14 year old Mahnoor Haq and 17 year old Julie Yeung. Both players played at a fast pace with Mahnoor edging past Julie in the 5th game 11-5 to take her first Women’s 5.0 club championship title.

Other notable results were in the Men’s 6.0 with brothers Zephan and Dillon Huang who battled out the Men’s final. Younger brother Dillon played a very controlled game but Zephan showed his years of experience to take the match 3-1 to claim his 2nd Bay Club Santa Clara Men’s 6.0 club championship title.

Many thanks to Farhad Ettehad, AmeriChoice and Remax for generously sponsoring this tournament for the 14th consecutive year.

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Juniors Norcal News

William T. Ketcham Jr. Award was awarded to our own Adam for Most Improved player at the US Junior Nationals.



Nice going Adam !!
Jay Kim
Norcal Squah Association

Juniors Norcal News

Madison Ho’s performance at the US Junior Nationals


Thank you Aisling Blake for this write up about our Madison Ho, the petite 9 year old from Palo Alto had a run of recent good form coming into the US Junior Nationals held last weekend in Boston, MA. Recently crowned U-13 West Coast Regional Champion, Madison has won every U-11 JCT event she has entered this year. While competing in the West Coast Regionals she came from a 10-3 deficit in the 5th game against a very tough opponent to take the title. This mental tenacity would serve her well as she competed for her first National title. Her first match was against another local player, Riya Navani of Fremont, Madison taking that match with a 3-1 win displaying some of the tight rails and front court execution she has become known for, even at such a young age. The following two matches against Rhea Pandit and Sabrina Schwarz , both of New York, were more straight forward affairs, won in 3 straight games setting up a final between the no. 2 seed Mary Kacergis of Pennsylvania. In the final, Kacergis had by far the better start of the two with a strong volley and using her height and reach to her advantage. Indeed it was not until Madison trailed 2-0 and 10-8 in the 3rd game that the crowd realised they had a match on their hands. From this point on, the tables were turned. Madison created some very positive rallies combined with a tight short game to take that game and the next, 11-9. At two games all the match was about to get interesting. Drawing on the new found confidence Madison served her way to a 10-0 lead with an exquisite lob serve which proved very problematic for the youngster from Pennsylvania. Despite a spirited comeback by Kacergis to 5-10 Madison was able to close out the match and take the U-11 title, a first for the West Coast junior. She goes home with an unblemished record for the 2015/16 season and with the mental strength she displayed in attaining the title, will undoubtedly be a bright hope for the future of West Coast and indeed, national US squash. Jay Kim Norcal Squash Association

Juniors Norcal News

2016 U.S. Junior Squash Championships (Nationals) at Harvard’s Murr Center.

It’s March and the U.S. junior squash season is coming to a close. Players have been training and contending and accumulating points since the prior spring to earn a spot at the 2016 U.S. Junior Squash Championships (Nationals) at Harvard’s Murr Center. The top 32 players in each division prepare for the big event, coming from all corners of the US. Most U11 players are coming for their first time and U19 players, many of them, for their last junior tournament. US Squash officials and referees and photographers descend on the Murr center to ensure a smooth event and witness the ups and downs of the competitions. NorCal players are well-represented at the event. Most have travelled early to manage jet lag. They have put their schoolwork on the back burner for a short time. They are ready to compete!

GU11 player Madison Ho, of Brisbane, CA, seeded # 1 in her division, breezes to the final, finishing on Sunday as Champion, having lost only one game all weekend until the finals. Riya Navani of Freemont, CA, the only other non East Coast player in the draw, took the one game from Ho in a second round match up. In the final match, Madison fought of two match points coming back from 2-0 10-8 down to win the Championship title in five!

Seven BU11 players represented NorCal at Harvard this weekend with Ahmad Haq of Santa Clara making it to the quarterfinals in the main draw and finishing 5th in the tournament.

The GU13 and GU15 draws each had three California girls, and of the GU15 three, each won her first round match, with Avni Anand of Saratoga, CA finishing 3rd and Esha Lakhotia, also from Saratoga, coming in 10th in the tournament.

Four NorCal players made it into the BU13 draw. Varun Chitturi of Fremont, CA placed 9th and Mukunth Gopalakrishnan, also of Fremont placed 10th in that draw. Two NorCal boys and one from Oregon played in the BU15 division. Udai Pal, from Hillsbourough, CA, placed 6th in the BU15 division.

Juliette Love, Alex Dworetzky and Aditya Kankariya were the NorCal players in the GU17 and BU17 draws. West Coast player, Laila Sedky, from Washington state won the GU17 Champion title.

Behind the very impressive NorCal results outlined thus far, of juniors “beginning” their junior squash careers, is the backstory of the older players looking at the end of their junior careers. For most of the U19 players, this is their last junior tournament. Most, by now, know where they are going to college and plan to play intercollegiate squash. They loyally sport the gear from their soon-to-be next major allegiance. The moment is bittersweet. For many of the parents, (unless they have younger players on a similar track), it is also their last tournament. The taxing travel schedule of missed work and airplane homework, pizza in the hotel room before an early match, canceled flights home from the East Coast…will even be missed, because the hotel parking lot snowball fights and this unique and wonderful shared experience with their kids is coming to its final hours.

While the players may be into college, the results for the U19 players still have some high stakes. The top 6 players will be invited to play in the Junior World competition in Poland this summer. Only the top 4 play the individual competition and the top 6 in the team event.

In the GU19, Mariam Kamal of California was seeded first. She placed 3rd after a hard-fought, 5-game semifinal loss to 13 year-old, phenom, Marina Stefanoni, who went on to win the GU19 division, making her the youngest Junior National Champion. Tara Arya from Cupertino, CA also contended in GU19. Kamal will represent the U.S. on the National Team this summer.

Gabriel Morgan and Cole Becker of CA along with Salim Kahn and Terrence Wang of Washington state represented West Coast Squash at Harvard this past weekend. Morgan finished 5th; Kahn, 9th and Becker, age 16, won a round in the main draw and 2 in the consolation draw. Gabriel Morgan, secured the #4 spot on the National Team this summer, through his performance at Nationals this past weekend.

This group of U19 players started their squash careers, most of them, almost a decade ago. They have paved the way for West Coast Junior Squash. When this group played U13s, there were 45 total junior West Coast squash players, including all age groups (3.5% of U.S. junior players at that time). In the 2015-2016 squash season, there are 158 West Coast players, making up more than 10% of all U.S. junior players. Their graduation marks an end of an era. We wish them well and give gratitude for their model of hard work, good sportsmanship and accomplishment.

contributed by Liza Geary




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