Celebrating the Class of 2021: First Installment

Thousands of junior squash players of all levels across the country compete and enjoy squash as a regular part of their lives. Each year, hundreds graduate from junior squash while retaining the values practiced in the sport, the close and enduring friendships they have formed, and with an enduring love for squash as a lifelong sport.

Beginning in 2020, US Squash has celebrated the graduating senior class by publishing personal reflections from players on their junior squash careers, and what they look forward to in their next chapter in life and squash. This tradition continues in 2021 with a senior class that has shown remarkable resilience through the challenges presented by the pandemic during their junior and senior years.

Below is the first installment for 2021 of this ongoing series. If you are a Class of 2021 high school senior and have not already submitted your own picture and reflection, please follow these instructions to do so.

Squash has been a major part of my life for over a decade. I have been playing and competing since I was 8 years old, and I have met many of my friends and mentors through squash. Starting at a young age, I was able to see myself as well as my friends progress and grow with each coming year. Whether it was playing at our club, in tournaments, or at camps, we were all having fun getting better at a sport we enjoyed. One of my best memories playing squash has to be during my Junior year at Brunswick, watching our team win Nationals after an incredible year. We had a great team with a lot of great players, but it was the comradery and friendship we shared that made that team special. That victory, especially now given that we couldn’t have that this year, makes it so much better.

Throughout my junior squash experience, Peter Briggs has always been there as my coach. I started playing at the Apawamis club when I was around 7 and I still play there today. I consider him to be the reason I stuck with squash all these years and continue to want to improve myself not just as a player, but as a person. He wants me to succeed in every facet of life. Whether it is making me do bear crawls on the golf course in the middle of November or talking to me about 18th century France and Marie Antoinette, I can always count on learning something new every time I step on the court with him. There have been very few people in my life that I have been able to count on for as long as I have with Pete. It was an honor to have him as my coach for my entire junior career, and I look forward to using his lessons and guidance throughout the next phase of my life.

Squash was mainly a winter sport for me despite my coach always begging me to pick up a racquet in the off season. The game was always a way for me to have fun in the winter and get some exercise. However, after a winter going by without a squash season I now understand how much more the game was. My coach always made sure that the team went from strangers to family in a couple months. Everybody knew each other and you could walk the halls in school and always say hi to a teammate. The seniors were eager to teach and lead the underclassman, and the underclassman didn’t take long to come out of their shell and find their way. Squash for me was more of an off court experience then on court. I loved playing the game and competing in matches and tournaments, however it was the relationships I made with my teammates that I will cherish the most.
Squash has definitely played a major role in my life throughout the past few years. I had experimented with countless sports before squash and finally stuck with this sport because of how much I loved playing. It has not only brought me many sportsmanship and resilience lessons, but also an amazing squash community made up of many friends, coaches, and teammates that have hugely impacted my high school experience on and off court.

Over the past year, everyone has faced many unprecedented challenges. After playing everyday for my first three years of high school, all of a sudden, we all had to halt. I missed out on the opportunity to play at Nationals at a critical time in all of our squash careers. Luckily, everything ended up working out. However, every squash player, myself included, had to adjust to life away from squash for a certain period of time. Now, I have a much better understanding of the fitness that goes into squash and have confidence that I can learn to adjust to challenging situations. Looking back on my entire junior squash experience, there is no one person who stuck out to me the most. My family has been with me every single tournament and every single match. My friends and teammates have become some of my best friends off court. My coaches know how to push me on court and have supported me throughout my career. Everyone that has been a part of my squash journey has played an important role.

Choosing to pick up a squash racket for the first time six years ago was one of the most rewarding decisions of my life. My countless hours spent competing on the squash court have shaped me into the person I am today by forcing me to recognize the power of grit, resilience, and passion. That desire to persevere during those grueling rallies at the end of the fifth fueled only by adrenaline coursing through your veins is a rare sensation that only squash can give. I look back and remember both the exhilarating wins and heartbreaking losses with equal appreciation. Training with my teammates and competing at Nationals remain some of my fondest memories from my squash career, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the people who supported me along the way. The endless thrill of competing in those nail-biting tiebreakers and the limitless gratification of giving the game my blood, sweat, and tears are feelings that have grown indispensable to me, and as I move forward into college squash, I can’t wait to make new memories, form close friendships, and compete on a new stage!
Competing in junior squash for the past 10 years has shaped the person I am today, both on and off the court. Squash has given me the drive and determination to succeed and has taught me to be resilient. These have been invaluable lessons for me and have been a guiding force in my everyday life during such unprecedented times. Some highlights of my Junior Squash career include competing on Team USA at the 2018 British Junior Open and at the 2019 Pan American Games. I will forever be grateful for the lifelong friends and memories I have made playing junior squash and for my parents who have been so supportive along the way. Squash has always been an individual sport for me, so I am excited to continue playing in college as part of an incredible team!
Matthew Granovsky | AMHERST UNIVERSITY
I have always played squash for the love of the sport, and thus it has provided me over the years with a constant and readily available source of joy and exhilaration. I have hundreds of positive squash-related memories, but one that sticks out is helping my Potomac School team to win the Division 3 Highschool National Championship in 2018 as a freshman. The atmosphere during the tournament was incredible and the way we all relied on each other and supported each other truly showed me the meaning of being teammates. Over the past year, resilience to me has meant finding whatever ways I can to not lose touch with the sport I love, whether that means soloing on a plywood mini-court we built in my driveway or playing matches with two masks on. As I look forward, I am most excited about joining an environment where I will be surrounded by people who love and are committed to squash as much as I am. The most impactful person in my junior squash career was easily my tournament coach, Mr. Wick Clothier. From our first tournament together in the U15s to my very last ones which are hopefully to come this summer, Wick was with me through all of my highs and lows and played an irreplaceable role in my development as a player, competitor, and person. He truly is more family to me than a coach.
Grace Flaherty | BATES COLLEGE
Squash has been one of the most important parts of my life, and I can gladly say that playing squash since I was 8 has been the best decision of my life. Although squash has challenged me in so many ways, it has always taught me resilience, respect and strengthened my ability to focus. The intensity of the game has shown me that even though it may seem unwinnable there is always a chance for a comeback, and I have brought that into everyday life. My favorite memories have to be with my high school squash team, specifically making it to the finals of High School Nationals Division 1. My team and I worked so hard to get to the finals and even though we lost, the journey there is unmatched and made us all a family. Squash has provided me with so many opportunities to better myself mentally and physically along with allowing me to meet some of my best friends, so I wouldn’t trade the squash community for anything.
I instantly fell in love with squash after taking my first lesson at the age of 10 at our school’s courts at Episcopal Academy. I immediately knew that I wanted to play every day, and learn all of the shots. What I didn’t know was that nearly a decade later, squash would become the center of my life in the best way possible. What began as a weekly lesson turned into daily training and workouts, practicing for weekends at junior tournaments locally and all over the country. Along the way, I made life-long friends, learned from coaches who became mentors, and developed discipline and found fortitude that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. It was only when everything came to a grinding halt over the last year that I fully appreciated how impactful the structure that squash provided to my life has been, and how much I missed even the smallest things. I know that all of us will take away to college a renewed appreciation for every single day on the court with our teammates, friends and coaches, and cherish our time ahead playing in college.

Playing squash for around a decade has taught me a lot. I have been able to keep mentally and physically fit by playing squash, and build up good habits for keeping healthy. I have also been able to travel to many different places in order to compete in various USSquash tournaments, and along the way, meet many hardworking competitors as well. A positive memory I have of squash is of when I traveled to the UK to compete in the British Junior Open for the BU17 division, alongside other fellow compatriots representing the USA. I am very excited to continue my squash career in college and make many new memories along the way.

Squash has played a significant role in my middle/high school life.  I started playing squash in 7th grade when the school that I attended and lived on built squash courts on their campus.  I fell in love with the sport immediately, and it quickly became an obsession.  Through squash, I have made many friends from training, tournaments, and other events during my junior squash career.  My favorite memories from squash are being at the club, training, and hanging out with my friends.  Before squash I would have never expected to be able to continue a sport in college, but I am excited to play squash at Connecticut College for the next four years and compete against many of the friends that I have made during my junior squash career.

Ashley Hatstadt | CORNELL COLLEGE
Playing Junior Squash has been a staple in making me who I am today as a squash player and as a person. I have thoroughly enjoyed making memories with my family and my friends at tournaments, during training, or in new cities around the world that I have had the chance to explore. I am thrilled to be able to continue my squash career at the college level and be a part of team training under the best coaches in squash. I love the community aspect of junior squash and am so grateful to have had amazing coaches that helped shape me as a player and as a person. I cannot wait to keep competing in the sport that I love at the next level and experience the joys (and the nerves) of warming up for an important match!

Growing up, competing on the Junior Circuit was always one of my favorite things. I would always look forward to the weekends when I had a tournament; being able to see my squash friends and getting to travel to so many amazing places were two of the many reasons why I loved it so much. I also loved the competition. I’m excited to be part of a college team, to keep competing, and get to see my junior squash friends at matches. Squash opened so many doors for me–memories to last a lifetime.