Greenwich Academy didn’t win the Division I title at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships last year only because the national tournament wasn’t held due to COVID-19 guidelines. Well, this year the event was back and so was Greenwich Academy’s unprecedented success.
Entering the national tournament seeded second, Greenwich Academy believed it was on a collision course with top-seeded Baldwin School, a team it had played at the world’s largest squash tournament in the past, and when the championship match commenced, there was GA and Baldwin facing each other for the Patterson Cup trophy.
As expected, the title match was close throughout and with it tied up through six matchups, all eyes were on Madeline Oh of the Gators and Sydney Bramen of Baldwin, who faced each other at the No. 7 spot to decide the team title.
Oh impressively won her match in three games and Greenwich Academy posted a 4-3 victory over Baldwin School to win the Division I title at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships for the sixth straight time.
The national tournament, which included 169 teams in 11 divisions representing seven states, was held at the new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
“It was a true spectacle for any final,” said Greenwich Academy coach Luke Butterworth, who has guided the Gators to six national championships. “That is the world’s best squash facility and the atmosphere was incredible.”
Oh defeated Baldwin’s Bramen at No. 6 in the deciding match of the Division I final, 11-3, 11-7, 11-3.
“I said to Madeline that the match may be tied at 3-all before she played her match and we would rely on her to get the win,” Butterworth said. “She stepped on the court with a lot of confidence and she blew it away, playing incredible squash. She was focused on her opponent and played with a great deal of passion and sportsmanship.”
After Oh won the last point to seal GA’s team win and another national title, the squad rejoiced. Since the U.S. Squash Team High School Championships’ inception in 2005, Greenwich Academy has won the Patterson Cup team title unprecedented 14 times.
“Watching our team win another title was incredible,” Butterworth said. “They were jumping up and down, cheering and it was one of the most special moments I’ve ever experienced as a coach. Our team headed into the tournament as the No. 2 seed (GA had been the No. 1 seed in the tourney numerous times before), so we were underdogs and our team had a great attitude and they learned from each match and each round.”
Oh successfully dictated the points in her deciding match.
“Madeline went out there with ice water in her vains,” Butterworth said. “She was calm, cool, collected and played fantastic squash. Her energy and confidence were unbelievable.”
The Division I title tilt began at No. 3 with Greenwich Academy’s Mary Duffy, a senior, playing Baldwin’s Christa Kay. In a great matchup, Kay pulled out a 3-2 win, coming back to take the match, 11-13, 12-14, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.
“It was a very competitive contest,” Butterworth said. “Both players showed a lot of heart throughout.”
At the No. 4 spot, GA’s Ella Schoonmaker, a senior, lost to Baldwin’s Rashi Goverdhanam, 3-0 (12-10, 11-6, 11-6).
“Ella fight’s hard every time she plays and she once again, fought very hard in this match,” Butterworth said of Schoonmaker’s match at No. 4.
Freshman Charlotte Pastel (No. 2) was in top form for Greenwich Academy in her match against Devon Shatzman. Pastel, who has helped sparked GA throughout the season from one of the top positions on the squad, won her match, 3-1 by scores of 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7.
“It was an incredible win and performance by Charlotte,” Butterworth said.
Grace Fazzinga gave Greenwich Academy a clutch 3-2 win at No. 5, edging Sabine Ball in comeback fashion, 11-9, 10-12, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9.
“Grace did a sensational job of tying up the match and coming back to take the match,” Butterworth said.
At the No. 1 matchup, GA’s Emma Trauber, a junior, concluded her outstanding season by recording a 3-1 triumph against Eugenia Li (11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5).
GA sophomore Ella Miller, who plays at the No. 6 spot, was defeated by Naomi Jefferson-Sambonis 3-1. Miller took the first game, 11-9, then Jefferson-Sambonis won the next three, 12-10, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6.
“Ella played great,” Butterworth said. “She came into the national championships not having that match experience at this tournament. She last played at the Middle School national championships two years ago, so she rose to the occasion and played very competitive matches.”
The Gators advanced to Sunday’s final by posting a 6-1 victory over third-seeded Agnes Irwin in the semifinals. In the quarterfinal-round GA, swept past 10th-seeded Episcopal Academy, 7-0. The opening round saw Greenwich Academy beat Spence School, 7-0.
In Butterworth’s first season as coach of Greenwich Academy, the team lost in the championship match of the national tourney. Since then, they have won the Division I team title six straight seasons.
“The team’s performance was outstanding throughout the tournament and the whole season,” said Butterworth, whose team went undefeated. “A huge thank you to assistant coach Jamie Sutclife, who means so much to the program, our parents and entire staff. We have a young team, which bodes well for the future.”