Ford’s squash reflects on undefeated season before Nationals

The squash team poses after a successful weekend in Brunswick, CT, where they went undefeated over 3 matches – Courtesy of Michael Lee

United under Sixth Form leadership and underclass talent, the #2 nationally ranked Haverford squash team looks to continue its undefeated streak going into Nationals. 

A multi-faceted team of skilled players across all age levels, the team is well on its way to checking all its boxes.

“Our goal for the season was to win the Inter-Ac championships and compete for the national championship,” Coach Alex Stait said. “We completed the first one and through some good results, we are setting ourselves up for a shot at the latter.”

Captain and United States Naval Academy commit Matthew Kang echoes the sentiment on the team’s progress.

“The team is doing amazing. I believe consistency is a hallmark of great teams, and we have been doing just that,” Kang ’23 said. Beating Brunswick twice and St. Andrews once is no easy feat, but to find those results day-in and day-out is something I am really proud of.”

The team is consistently ranked among the top teams in the nation, but the group has faced its fair share of adversity. The path to the top remains challenging but the Fords’ squash team has scaled them; among these challenges is keeping the entire team healthy in a physically taxing environment, on and off the court.

“I expect great results from our guys.”

Matthew Kang ’23

“We have had lots of challenges with injuries this season. That is always the hardest thing to keep everyone fit and healthy through so many matches and different events,” Coach Stait said.

Similarly, the team dynamic has evolved, in that the influx of underclassmen talent contrasts with last year’s Sixth Form-heavy squad.

“I thought it would be hard having so many talented underclassmen on our team, with the possibility of having clashing personalities and commitment issues,” Kang said. 

Despite initial speculations, the camaraderie and work ethic of the underclassmen have proved otherwise over the course of the season.

“They are young and hungry to win, and are willing to put in the hard work day in and day out,” Kang said. “It actually inspires the older guys to push forward as well, so I think we have a great dynamic in the team.”

“They teach me more about the sport, and outside factors as well, like tests, schoolwork, etc. I feel it creates a better brotherhood.”

Devon Li ’25

Fourth Former Devon Li values the team’s collective striving to improve as athletes and students.

“On the court, we all work hard, work on our own things, and we all get our jobs done. I think off-court helps create more fun, like with joking around and stuff. I also learn from upperclassmen. They teach me more about the sport, and outside factors as well, like tests, schoolwork, etc. I feel it creates a better brotherhood,” Li said.

Senior Captain Owen Yu ’23 competing in a home match at The Haverford School – Index Staff

The brotherhood has fostered an environment of unparalleled support off the court, a remarkable factor in the team’s success.

“The biggest factor was going to Brunswick to play them, in maybe the most hostile environment I’ve ever played in. Squash is one of the loneliest sports in the world, you’re by yourself in a boxed court, with an opponent that desperately wants to beat you. When you add in two-hundred Brunswick maniac fans who are banging on the glass, and it gets worse,” Li said.

In times of despair, overwhelming support trumps seeds of doubt.

“You feel isolated, and you want to leave the court and quit, then you look outside and you have your teammates banging on the glass, so then you get fired up and you refuse to quit. This was an impact because I felt closer with my teammates after—we all went through it, and helped each other through it,” Li said.

Not just the players, the support can be felt through the coaching staff.

“Our student support at our matches particularly with Brunswick was really exciting for the boys and they really appreciated their brothers being there for them,” Coach Stait said.

For seasoned veterans, the weeks before the final competition serves as a time for reflection.

“The team has taught me how to be a better leader, and most importantly, a better friend.”

Matthew Kang ’23

“I got to meet so many people who I have the pleasure of calling my brothers now,” Kang said. “Being part of the Haverford School Squash Team means we are part of a larger community and history, with generations before us at our side. The team has taught me how to be a better leader, and most importantly, a better friend.”

Coach Alex Stait and Owen Yu ’23 coach Andrew Glaser ’24 in a 6-1 victory against Darien, January 21, 2023

With the departing Sixth Formers, the changing of the guard looks bright for Fords’ squash.

“The Fifth Form class has some of the most talented and gritty players I have ever seen. To those guys, I bequeath the title of being leaders of the storied Haverford School Squash Team,” Kang said. “Having gone through so much with them these past few years, I have complete trust in them to continue the amazing legacy we have.”

In the final weeks, the Haverford squash team has their eyes set on winning the national championship.

“Currently being undefeated and Inter-Ac champions is reason to have our heads held high going into Nationals,” Kang said. “I expect great results from our guys.”

Author: Ethan Chan '23

Ethan Chan has contributed to The Index since September 2020. He currently serves as a Senior Managing Editor. He previously served as Neighborhood Editor. His arts section piece "Donda: A spiritual awakening" was recognized by the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.