Radnor Squash Finishes Second in National Championship

Abigail Lenhard

As the season just ended, it’s about time to give a recap of everyone’s favorite winter sport, the one which Ruckus would never miss, the sport whose verdict everyone anxiously awaits, the team whose players are the coolest kids on campus: squash. I know exactly what you’re thinking, “Why would we need a recap?! The whole study body’s already talking about it. Why must you shove yet another squash update in our faces?” But alas, you’ll have to endure one final report on the popular sport. But, hey, don’t think I’m only talking about the highly publicized, universally loved, JV squash team; I’m also talking about those players on Varsity. Just because they might not be as supported for playing doesn’t mean they aren’t there, too. And while we’re talking about fame from the team, a lot of people tend to forget there are actually GUYS on the team, not just the two iconic females who valiantly played for the 2017-2018 team (who can blame you, though, the 16 boys do tend to get overshadowed by those two).

For those of you who don’t know what squash is, a minority I’m sure, it’s a racket sport, and no, it’s not a version of tennis. It’s played indoors with a small ball and just two competitors in the court. If you’re familiar with racquetball, it’s similar to that but with more rules. Actually, not knowing what squash is can be potentially detrimental because then you’d never be able to solve this riddle: “In a three-circle Venn diagram with ‘a vegetable’, ‘something that can kill you,’ and ‘a sport,’ what is in the middle?” (hint: it’s squash). This is essential knowledge!!! The sport sometimes makes bizarre cameos in shows such as Gossip Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Gilmore Girls, and even in The Office episode “Doomsday,” and without knowing what squash is, you’ll be incredibly confused and some well-placed puns will go right over your head.

As for the Radnor team, its brief history started in 2008 when Radnor Student and squash enthusiast Wick Clothier petitioned to have a team at the school. With the help of former athletic director Dan Serfass, the Clothier family was able to found the club once they found their  teacher sponsor, Mr. Wright. The first iteration of the club had about six players and couldn’t even field a full line up, also, the kids who joined were pretty random. Some had been playing for years, while for others it was a family activity or another winter sport to keep busy with. People get into squash for a variety of reasons. Mr. Wright, for example, took it as a gym class when he was at Penn State, loved it, and kept playing. For Mr. Rosin, when he was at Harvard playing tennis, he took up the sport as a winter alternative. A lot of people enter the sport due to familial influences. This is how a seemingly random social studies teacher got to be the faculty advisor for the team. Rosin and Wright had both enjoyed playing in college and thanks to Serfass’s connections at Shipley, they were able to occasionally utilize their courts. When the Clothier’s contacted him to get together a team, there seemed no one more suitable for the position than Mr. Wright.

In the early 2000’s, a prominent figure in the Philadelphia Squash community, Demer Holleran, left her position as UPenn’s women’s squash coach with hopes of opening her own club, and in 2007, she achieved that, finally opening Fairmount Athletic Club and providing squash courts in a more mainstream manner. Since it was just getting off the ground and had a convenient location in King of Prussia, it seemed like the perfect place for the Radnor team to claim their home court. The first year the program ran, it was more for fun than for the competition; they only had four matches in total. The second year, Paul Frank came to Fairmount as the squash director to further the program. He designed Scozzie, a successful squash club, and legitimized the team. Just two years after the club was founded, the boys went for the first time to the High School Team National Championship. In that two year period, RHS squash grew dramatically and lead into the middle school via a lunchtime announcement by room 101’s very own Mr. Wright. Both schools had successful programs, so Wright stepped away form the high school’s and just ran the middle school’s program from 2012-2014 before coming back to the high school to coach both in 2014-2015. The sixth and seventh graders he met back then are now seniors or graduated in this past year. Of those kids, he coached two who went on to play at the college level: Cal Hanson, Class of 2017, now plays at University of Richmond, and Charlie Sutherby will be playing at Amherst College next winter.

Charlie, our fearless senior captain, took us into battle at Junior Team Nationals this year. Now, this was not his first experience as our divine commander. Last year as a junior, along with former senior Paul Owens, he guided the team all the way up to Connecticut for the competition and did so once again this year. As a mentor, friend, coach, driver, sibling, and HQ assistant to those of us on the team, Charlie handled his position with almost too much maturity for an eighteen-year-old.

For the first day of the fray, our opposition seemed to exhibit extreme cowardice. We received a bye. Thankfully, had the team not gotten one, the boys would have had to miss school, which all its members were averse to doing.

Once that leisurely Friday had passed, the team fought Nichols School for two days and two nights without stopping. Matches are played as best of 5s, and though many matches didn’t pass three games, all were tight, and the boys were starting to feel the pressure of the competition. A well-called stroke by Charlie Sutherby won the match and advanced them onto the next round of the competition. After defeating their morning opponent, the team went on to their evening matches against Princeton Day School. Will Wallace at number four on the ladder came down the deciding game, and in the high-stakes scenario, the Phish fan prevailed, “just as Trey [does] in a jam” (I have no clue what that means).

Also pivotal in this second round match-up was sophomore Nate Frankel’s match at the seven seed. Frankel had played all season as a low-ranking varsity player and had a last-minute goose on the ladder, overcoming various players, including yours truly. In his match on that Saturday evening, he proved himself worthy of that spot, defeating his opponent in just three games.

Out of the seven matches played, only one was lost. Radnor was merciless (especially Will Cameron, who didn’t give his opponent a single point in the second game). Just like that, the boys advanced to the finals against Buffalo-based Canisius High School. What followed was spectacular: there were lets being called (for once), rackets being swung, and scores being kept!!! (No cheering occurred, but that’s something the team needs to work on as a whole–except Alex Hahn. He cheers.)

Junior Ethan Ott had an impressive match and was the only one to go to at least four games, securing the first win for Radnor. Senior Jason Nachman at the number three spot had an excruciating match, which resulted in a frustrating loss for everyone involved. Alex Hahn followed suit and also suffered through a match ending in a loss. Will Cameron and John Sutherby both lost their first games but came back to win the matches. The match score was 2-2 when Charlie and Wallace went on to play. Wallace was tormented with an equal opponent seemingly comfortable with playing someone who was left-handed. The team’s taller Will played a great match; however, in the end, he lost. In Charlie’s match, the two boys were back and forth the entire time, but, unfortunately, this one went down as one of Charlie’s only losses all season. The final 4-3 score landed Radnor Squash in a satisfactory second place in the National Championship. For now, we proceed with hopes of redemption in our future and look forward to another successful season.