Celebrating the Class of 2021: Second 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.

Read the first installment here.

Throughout my time in junior squash, I have learned many valuable lessons about hard work, grit, and determination which I will no doubt carry with me through my life. Through the numerous tournaments, I have made many friends and happy memories, as well. My favorite memory of Junior Squash was at the 2019 Junior Nationals at UVA when I finished in the top 8. I would like to thank all my coaches and my mom for their endless support. I look forward to continuing my journey through collegiate squash at Bowdoin College!
During my junior squash career, I have learned so many lessons not only in the sport, but how my relationships with teammates and fellow competitors have helped me in all facets of my character and squash game. Having the opportunity to compete at high school team nationals since my freshman year (with an exception to this year) was a guiding factor in my choice to continue playing squash throughout college. The ability to watch my team grow from division 4 to division two over 3 seasons was one of the most humbling achievements that has brought countless memories that will last a lifetime. To have a team where the players both challenge, respect, and uphold each other is something I will never take for granted and will continue to strive for as I continue growing my game at Dickinson college. I am so incredibly thankful to US Squash for all of the valuable lessons, tournaments, and friends that I have been able to make over the years and I so look forward to what’s ahead.
When I look back on my junior squash career, I will not remember the individual wins and losses, but will cherish the friends and relationships I made. I loved playing team squash with my best friends, representing my school and Team USA. Winning two Middle School Championships for Bronxville & Brunswick and three HS Championships for Brunswick was a huge honor. I was also lucky to have amazing coaches and mentors along the way. To Adham Taleb, Jim Stephens, and Phil Barker, thank you! I owe so much to them, and everything they did for me. I appreciate all the US Squash staff that made the tournaments possible. Although I will not be playing squash in college, I will be Princeton Squash’s biggest fan!
Saechow Yap | MIT
I have always worked hard on my squash game while balancing my schoolwork. I remember watching Thierry Lincou play in a tournament when I was younger and his love for the game, skill and sportsmanship on court left an impression on me. I love the game and have always tried to improve technically, but equally important to me was being a good sport and maintaining my integrity on court during challenging matches. It was never easy, but practice became a routine part of my day and gave me a chance to decompress from busy school days. The tournament weekends were a bonus and I looked forward to meeting up with the good squash friends that I’d made over the years. US Squash gave me the opportunity to work on my game and on myself. I am grateful and excited to continue my squash and academic career at MIT in the fall with Thierry. I can’t wait to start this next phase of my squash career.
Squash has played a monumental role in my life and has taught me many life lessons such as patience, goal setting, and maintaining a positive mindset. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to play on a squash team throughout high school. It was amazing to play amongst such a great group of girls. They were phenomenal players and challenged me to become a better player. Cheering each other on through tough matches, learning to give constructive criticism to better each other, and making lifelong friends were some of the many reasons I loved playing on a squash team. The memories we made and lessons we learned will never be forgotten. They contributed to such an amazing junior squash experience for me. I am excited to implement what I have learned when I play squash at the collegiate level and can’t wait to make many new memories.
Throughout my junior squash career, I’ve experienced doses of success but also doses of failure. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that how you deal with the result of a match or tournament is far more important than the result itself. I think learning how to embrace failure and to use it to your advantage is an invaluable skill that I’ll bring with me to the college level as well as all aspects of life. I’d like to thank Shaun Johnstone for supporting me since the beginning, as well as my mom and dad who’ve given up a lot of their time over the years in order to bring me to tournaments.

Khruthi Undavalli | UNDECIDED
Playing squash as a junior has taught me so many things, but I think the most important role it has played in my life is it taught me how to overcome obstacles. My relationship with squash was off and on at times, and after a bad tournament, or day of training, I was taught how to push through. Resilience to me over the past years has been attached to always fighting to have a positive outlook on the difficult parts of training for squash. There are many times when training can get tough, but finding resilience was important to me. I am excited to find a new place to play squash in college away from home, but I hope to continue training and enjoying playing squash in the future. My mother was the most impactful in my junior squash experience, because she was the one who always took me to my practices/tournaments, and made sure that I had everything I needed.
Squash has been a crucial aspect of my life for the past 8 years. Living in Ohio, it was certainly not the common sport to play, but I am so grateful that I found my way to squash. Over the past few years, I have met countless wonderful and unique people as well as traveled all across the world. I truly would not be who I am today without the many experiences and opportunities I have had through squash. I have been dreaming of playing squash in college, especially at Dartmouth, for a very long time now, and I couldn’t be more excited for the next four years. I look forward to being in a setting that will help me improve my game and to be surrounded by other amazing players.

Throughout my junior squash journey, I’ve learned that there is a certain pleasure and mental growth that can only be achieved through athletic discipline. I have come to love every aspect of this sport, from the victories to cherish, the losses to learn from, the exhilarating competitive spirit, and most importantly, the fruition of many lasting relationships. The most memorable parts as a member of my school squash team were always the ones filled with camaraderie and unmatched energy of competition and encouragement. Emerging victorious after an hour and a half long deciding match of the first round of High School Nationals at Wesleyan University in 2019, and the rapturous cheer of my teammates that followed is one unforgettable memory that will reside within me forever, along with my great gratitude for this sport. Now, as I continue on to the next chapter of my athletic career, I look forward to the continual growth and memories that will surely be made as a Quaker squash athlete. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to continue to win, lose, forge new friendships, and accept the challenge that continuing this beautiful athletic discipline presents.
Squash has given me the opportunity to meet some of the kindest people and make life-long friends. I will always remember the life lessons the game has taught me both on and off the court and I am extremely excited to continue playing in college.