Boys’ varsity squash sets sights on National Championship

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Photo courtesy of Miranda Dennis

SOPHOMORE GEORGE CHANG SERVES against an opponent from Avenues during the team's match on Monday. Chang ended up winning his individual match 3-0, as the Panthers went on to sweep Avenues by a score of 7-0.

Ethan Schlapp, Staff Writer

It was all powerful drives and perfectly placed triple boasts in the boys’ varsity squash team’s victory over Avenues on Monday, bringing their record to 2-1 on the season. Even without their veteran number two seed Garrett Wenberg, first-year Ian Stein was up for the task of filling in, impressively not allowing his opponent to gain a single point in the first game of the match. 

The Panthers’ strong start has brought back memories from their successes from previous seasons. In the 2016-2017 school year, the team won the Division III National Championship. The year after, they followed up as a Division III finalist. It has been almost three years since their national championship victory, and the team is focused on repeating their 2017 successes.

However, though the team had high hopes to begin the season, it was clear to some of the current members of the team that achieving their goal of winning another national championship would be a tall task after losing two of their four top players.

“The loss of the two seniors, Youssef [Aly] and Noel [Gorodetsky] affected us pretty negatively, because they were really important assets with Youssef being the number two [seed] on the [Masters] boys team and Noel being the number four [seed],” said senior team captain and University of Virginia squash commit Taha Dinana. 

Nevertheless, Dinana is excited about the future of the team. “As a new team captain, most of the kids I saw in the tryouts who are playing six, seven, eight, five on the ladder [the ranking system], they really like the sport, which is the most important part,” he said. “I wouldn’t care if you win or lose, but if you love what you are doing on-court, that’s the main thing,” he continued. 

One of those players is Stein, who played squash for two years in the Masters middle school. Introduced to the game by his friend Johnathan Oakes, another member of the team, Stein said he knew immediately that squash was his passion. Now on the high school team for his first year, he is enjoying the experience so far. “As a freshman, I feel very welcomed and know that with the group of boys that we have, we can go far,” he said.

Coach Ahmed El Mehelmi or “Meho” as the players call him, said turning the potential into results is certainly one of the main goals. “This year looks good, we are working more on our depth because we have number one and two [seeds] Taha and Garrett. Now Ian joined from middle school, and he is our number three now – he’s good,” El Mehelmi said. 

Coach Meho remains hopeful that the team’s strong lineup can be successful. “The team looks pretty strong so hopefully we can make it to division three again, or four, and try to win it again,” he said.

After their promising start, the Panthers continued to play well with another big win over Fieldston today. They hope to keep the momentum moving forward in their upcoming home matches this Thursday against rival Hackley. It will be a big test that will show whether this team truly has what it takes to win the most important title of them all.