||A renaissance season for The Hill varsity boys’ squash team continued in grand fashion at Day Squash Center on Saturday, February 9. Playing Lawrenceville for the first time since the 2010-2011 season, The Hill boys’ defeated the rival Big Red by a score of 6-3, Hill’s first victory over Lawrenceville in nearly 20 years.
“This win is as a result of hard work and dedication our student-athletes have to their team and their sport,” said head coach Chanel Erasmus. “We had just come off a superb High School Nationals result, straight into MASA Championships, followed by this match against Lawrenceville – our eighth match in the past seven days and the 24th match this team has played this season. I’ve asked a lot from this team and tested them in many ways, yet each time they rise to the challenge and go beyond our expectations. That’s what makes this group so special. They don’t settle, they’re not just willing to meet expectations, they want to go above and beyond. This win is so important in proving to themselves that the work they are putting in on-and-off court, the mental strength we’ve been working on as a team is working. We have a process, they’ve trusted it, and now we are starting to see the results. This win is for all of Hill Squash, past, present, and future, and it is only the beginning of what’s to come for this program. We want more and we’re ready for the next challenge.”
Boosted by the addition of key players who are new to the school this year, Erasmus was optimistic entering the season that the new players would combine with a core of talented returning players to create a formidable squad. In just the third match of the season, Hill defeated Penn Charter for the first time since 1999, which also stood as the program’s first win against an “A” team from the Philadelphia Inter-Ac league (aside from Malvern Prep) in that time, providing a glimpse of the team’s potential.
The team continued to play well as the season progressed and earned a spot in Division III in the US High School Nationals tournament, a two-division jump from last year. Hill finished as Division III runners-up at Nationals and proceeded to win its first two matches of the MASA tournament to reach the MASA final. On Saturday afternoon, the Hill’s record stood at 17-6 as Lawrenceville entered Day Squash Center.
Not only would Saturday’s match test the team’s squash ability, but it also would be a test of mental and physical stamina as it was the team’s eighth match in the past seven days.
The first four matches of the day came at the numbers 2, 4, 6, and 9 ladder positions. Hill claimed three of those four matches, with JuanBer Hinostroza ’21 and Max Tsiang ’19 posting four-set wins and Gene Chung ’19 battling out a five-set victory. Up 3-1, Hill needed to win just two of the final five matches to secure the team victory. Jingyu Cai ’19 won his match at the five-spot, and shortly after both Flavio Hinostroza ’19 and Tytus Felbor ’21 concluded victorious three-set matches to give Hill an insurmountable 6-1 advantage.
It was an especially sweet victory for the team’s four sixth formers, all of whom won their match on Sixth Form Recognition Day.
On February 11, the Blues will play Haverford School’s “B” team in the Division II final of the Mid-Atlantic Squash Association Tournament. After that, the season concludes with the MAPL tournament at Blair Academy on Saturday, February 16. Hill enters the MAPL tournament as the top-seed.
“We’ll need to beat Lawrenceville for a second time at MAPL’s on Saturday, which we know is a challenging task,” Erasmus said. “It will be difficult, but I know we will be ready.”