NorCal Juniors Shine at Mid-Atlantic JCT
Twenty NorCal juniors participated in the last Junior Championship Tour (JCT) of the 2015-2016 squash season this past weekend (February 6-8) at the Meadow Mills Athletic Club in Baltimore, Maryland. Following on the heels of a heavy snowstorm that shuttered much of the East Coast, Baltimore was able to clear the streets in time to host the Mid-Atlantic JCT, and there were only a few patches of snow remaining by the time the West Coast players arrived for their matches on Friday morning.
The JCTs are the nation’s most prestigious national junior squash tournaments, as they attract the top players from around the country, and our juniors had some great results:
A record 5 boys from the Bay Area competed in the Boys U11 division. Dhruv Nemani, Zane Patel, Nikhil Kanchi, Varun Fuloria, and Mero Elmarassy each won at least one round in the Main Draw or the Consolation. Mero had an especially strong tournament, advancing to the finals of the Consolation where he lost in an extremely close match (9th place).
In the Boys U13 Division, the Bay Area boys did serious damage in the Consolation draws, with Mukunth Gopalakrishnan reaching the semis, and Zain Ahmed losing in the Consol finals (10th place) to Varum Chiturri, who won the Consolation (9th place). Shivin Kumar pressed hard and did well, winning the Plate.
Congratulations to Udai Pal for reaching the finals of the Main Draw in the Boys U15 division! Udai upset the #2 and #3 seeds to get to the finals, an impressive performance.
Aditya Kankariya played well in the Boys U17 division but ran into stiff competition early on. He narrowly lost a marathon 5 game match to end his attack in the Main Draw.
Two players finished in the top 10 of the Boys U19 division. Gabriel Morgan reached the quarterfinals of the Main Draw before losing to the #1 seed, and finished in 7th place, while Cole Becker won the Consolation and finished in 9th place.
In the Girls U11 division, Kristen Daniel had a great tournament, winning her first round in the Main Draw and later advancing to the finals of the Consolation, where she lost in a very close match (9th place).
In the Girls U13 division, Claudia Adam had a tough draw facing the #4 seed in the first round of the Main Draw, and Riddhi Joshi won one round before seeing her run end in the Consolation.
In the Girls U15 division, Esha Lakhotia, Serena Daniel, and Avni Anand all won their first rounds in the Main Draw, and Avni went on to the finals of the Consolation where she lost to the #3 seed in the division (10th place).
In the Girls U17 division, Aarushi Lakhotia drew a tough first round opponent who went on to win the Classic Plate, but Aarushi played well and went on to win a round in the very competitive Consolation draw.
Former SF Bay Club Head Pro Kim Clearkin, who now handles all the JCTs for US Squash, did a terrific job keeping the matches running smoothly. Bay Area families enjoyed reconnecting with Kim, whose efforts to grow junior squash while she was in the Bay Area can still be seen by the great turnout from the West Coast.
One of the advantages of the Baltimore tournament is that it all takes place at one venue, making it easier for families and coaches to stay together and get to matches on time. It also provides a great opportunity for younger players to watch the older players, and for all the Bay Area kids to support and cheer for each other in a heavily East Coast-dominated competition. Congratulations to all participants!
The junior squash season of 2015-2016 culminates March 11-13 with the US (Closed) Nationals, which will take place at Harvard University.