The North Atlanta High Schools team won its first National Interscholastic title in the boys division I, while the Houston Squash Club team successfully defended its girls division I title Sunday, February 5, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
The National Interscholastics–which marked its third staging–incorporates a unique format that encourages regions without high school squash teams to provide team squash opportunities to kids from different schools. View all results on the National Interscholastics tournament page. Trophy ceremony photography is available on the US Squash Smugmug page.
The two hybrid team programs met in the boys division one final after topping their respective groups. Of the seven finals individual matches, six were decided in three games with each team winning three matches. The No. 2 position proved to be the decider with Atlanta’s Tarun Sargunar coming back from 2-1 down to win 12-10 in the fifth. Portland Community Squash’s “Fish Hawks” placed third in their tournament debut.
Atlanta’s boys B team collected earned another title in the boys division two, defeating SquashSmarts 5-2 in the final.
“It feels amazing to win our first title, winning a national championship itself is huge, but creating an upset and winning it even nicer,” said Alireza Sanaei, Atlanta head coach. “As a team from the southeast winning for the first time it’s a big deal. None of our teams made it to the final last year, but they both did this year, which means we are on the right track and our coaches and players have done a great job to have made this big improvement. This will change the dynamics even further in Georgia. Our kids are pumped up and motivated to achieve more and they have gained that confidence. I believe this is just a new beginning for Atlanta squash.”
The girls division one round robin came down to the Houston girls and Greenwich Academy B who both recorded three wins to set up the final. Houston’s top five all produced wins to successfully defend their title with 5-2 scoreline. The Greenwich Academy JV squad finished just behind the B squad in third.
“It’s been amazing weekend, I think the level is getting better than last year and the event is growing from last year,” said Jahanzeb Khan, Houston Squash Club head coach. “It’s amazing the way it’s growing and how teams are working hard all over the U.S. and bringing the best out of it this weekend. I’m very happy with how our girls and boys teams from Houston performed.”
The 2023 National Interscholastics saw the addition of six new teams, and the addition of the girls division two. The inaugural girls division two final saw Squash Haven defeat SquashSmarts in an all-SEA program final.
“The kids loved playing this event, last year when we went home they were already hoping to make the team the next year and were talking about how they couldn’t wait to go back and play this amazing tournament,” added Khan, whose Houston Squash Club will co-host Texas’ first ever JCT event this weekend. “I’m glad we’re hosting this event every year and hopefully it will keep getting bigger and better. US Squash is doing great work and I hope they can continue this and other cities from all over the U.S. will participate in this tournament because it’s an amazing way to showcase how this sport can be so much more when played as a team.”
“This is the only team event that our players compete in, just forming a team, practicing together, competing together and all those team activities are a wonderful experience for our kids and they love it,” added Sanaei, who serves as Life Time National Squash Lead and is based as Life Time John’s Creek. “But I think what they love the most is the four days that they live and spend time together in Philadelphia–it’s non-stop fun for them. We’re grateful for the opportunity that US Squash has created for these kids through these championships, very wise and well thought out. I also would like to thank our leadership at Life Time led by our CEO, Bahram Akradi, who has been giving a lot of attention and support to our racquet sports, specifically squash, and also our VP, Ajay Pant, under whose leadership Life Time squash has made tremendous improvements over the past two years recovering after post-pandemic to be at its best shape ever in 2023 and continuing its growth in all aspects.”