Contributed by Aisling Blake Fresh from some credible performances at the San Francisco Gold event held at Bay Club, University Club and Olympic Club last weekend eighteen players from up and down the West Coast traveled to Yale under the watchful eye of Head Regional Coach Gareth Webber along with Lauren Xaba and Aisling Blake.
The team had an early start Thursday morning meeting at SFO at 5.15a.m. but jet lag was a distant memory once they took to the courts on Friday morning. Overall the team put in a fantastic performance and without a doubt would take home the ‘spirit’ prize. From the coaches’ perspective the atmosphere among the team members and support they showed each other through every match was inspiring. We even had an incidence of 17 players waiting to go to dinner as the 18th player finished his match – they didn’t want to go without him! With such a team spirit it is easy to see why we came away with a 3rd place overall and an outright win in the U-15 division.
Hightlights included Serena Daniels and Avni Anand contesting the G U-15 final (Serena came out the winner in a very close battle of experienced squash), Adam Lichtmacher coming from a game down to secure 3rd place which set us up for a first ever Gold medal at the Regional Championships. The U-15 team in its entirety (including Vivek Sunkam and Mario Reifschneider) all contributed to this victory with Gordon Lam leaving nothing on the court as he played some super squash resulting in a 5th place finish.
The other categories had a slightly tougher time as the standard from the east coast – Pennsylvania in particular – was quite high. In both girls and boys U-17 we had representation from the Bay area and Santa Barbara with Dillon Miller, Kunal Valia, Aman Mital, Sabreen Abdelrahman and Jennifer Lee. Aman and Sabreen had the honor of being elected co-captains of the West coast team and did a great job of creating a joyful team spirit among the players.
At the younger end of the age group categories we had four players in each – again, representing the Bay area and Portland we had some serious contenders in the boys division. Rowan Schnebly from Oregon showed his grit and determination in getting through several close matches before succumbing to injury on the final day. Arav Bagwhati was the surprise that the east coast kids weren’t expecting, reaching the quarters (beating players above his seeding) and ending with a 5th place finish. Shivin Kumar was unlucky in the round of 16 to lose out in 5 games and once again, we had another injury as Shivin wasn’t able to complete the tournament after this match.
The exposure to the strength of the teams on the east coast was a good experience for the relative newcomer Raj Bapat. In the girls U-13 Shalini Agarwal and Anushka Gupta had to play each other on the final day for a final placing with Anushka taking the match this time. Roshni Pal enjoyed some close matches too in this division. While the other regions were a little more experienced in this division, it was very good exposure to competition for these younger girls.
A slightly tired but very happy team made their way back to SFO Sunday night, everyone involved should be very proud of their performance and as a team they ruled the cheering competition!