This past season, the squash team had one of its most successful runs in recent memory. Led by a competitive group of upperclassmen, the team finished the season 15-2, with only losses to the Episcopal Academy and the Kent School in the finals of High School Nationals, the premier tournament for high school teams in squash.
“I actually feel like this year we got every little bit out of ourselves,” Head Squash Coach Alex Stait said. “Last year I felt like we could have done a little bit better in the [semifinals] in Nationals—I didn’t feel like that this year.”
The team’s captains, Sixth Formers Owen Yu and Matthew Kang, played an integral role in maintaining a tempo for the season, and keeping the chemistry of the team strong.
“I can’t speak highly enough of them,” Coach Stait said. “One of our players was a little frustrated with one of our other players, saying, ‘Oh, he should have done this, [he] should have done that, and Owen instantly said to him, ‘No. We don’t do that. There’s no negativity.’ And I think that just sums both of them up.”
Not only have the captains played a key role in maintaining a healthy team spirit, but they have played their hardest when it matters most.
“[During nationals] Matthew Kang really just dug one out,” Coach Stait said. “I mean, the boys named him Mr. Nationals because every year he steps up when he needs to.”
One of the highlights of the season was playing their main rival, the Brunswick School, beating them twice—once at home, and once away.
“We’ve never [beaten Brunswick] at [their] home before,” Coach Stait said. “It was tough in front of their crowd as they had their student section there.”
However, for the match at home, the team had a strong student section present, which propelled them towards their first victory against Brunswick.
“We have had a student section at almost every game, and the most important ones, which include our match versus Brunswick at home and vs. St. Andrew’s at Nationals, [the students] packed the stands, which no other high school in the country can do,” Kang said. “It was an electric feeling to have the Fords cheering you on from the stands, one really that I cannot forget for the rest of my life.”
The end of each season brings the inevitable transition that means Sixth Formers leave the team, and younger players will need to step up. Still, the team believes that they are prepared.
“A lot of [the rising upperclassmen] have been leaders anyway,” Coach Stait said. “So it’s gonna be seamless in that way. Our junior class brings the most depth we’ve ever had as a squash class. It’s going to be great to have them as seniors, but a big loss when we lose them.”
Matthew Kang echoed a similar statement.
“I have so much confidence in the upcoming juniors. [Fifth Former] Drew Glaser has been on the team as long as I have, and been through the same hardships. I have the utmost confidence in him to continue leading the team by example,” Kang said. “[Fifth Formers] Graeme Herbert, Ethan Lee, Preston Wu, and Render Ford are all great players—people who are accountable and willing to do anything for Fords squash. Owen and I learned so much from previous captains, and I know these guys [will do] the same as well.”
I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.Matthew Kang ’23
“I think next year is just about being even more of a leader on the team,” Glaser said. “Making sure that they can rely on me each match to win—I need to be able to handle that.”
For the Sixth Formers, their last high school squash season meant a lot to them, and having it be a successful one made the season all the more memorable.
“Coming into the year, we had high expectations: to win the Inter-Ac, be a high-seeded team at Nationals, and most importantly, carry on the respected Haverford legacy for another year,” Kang said. “Somehow and someway, we exceeded those expectations.”
The squash team’s accomplishments will mark them down as one of the best in the school’s history.
“We had one of the best Haverford Squash seasons ever, and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Kang said.
“They deserve these results for how much work they put in. I guess all things must come to an end, and this is the best way it could’ve.”
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