Contributed by Coach Paul Alexander
The PDS squash team traveled to Hartford over the weekend to participate in the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships. The team, comprised of co-captains Mark Santamaria and Armaan Dugar, along with Albert Ming, Gavin Yang, Devan Sakaria, Zander Zhang, Lily Matthews, and Kylie Zhou, was the 5/8 seed in Division VII.
With wins in the top five positions, the team defeated Fairfield HS (CT) 5-2 in the opening round, which set up a quarterfinal matchup with the second-seeded team, Boy’s Latin School from Baltimore. Against Boy’s Latin, Zhang’s opening five-game victory in the sixth position proved to be critical. Dugar and Ming added victories at the second and third positions, respectively, and the focus shifted to Sakaria at fifth position with the team match tied at 3-3. Sakaria, seemingly unaffected by the pressure, proceeded to methodically dismantle his opponent, effectively controlling the center of the court with the perfect combination of accurate drives and counter-drops. His 3-0 victory gave the team the decisive fourth point needed to clinch a 4-3 win and advance to the next round.
PDS faced McCallie High School, a new and talented team from Tennessee, in the semifinals. A grueling five-game marathon victory by Yang in the fourth position, combined with strong wins by Santamaria at the first position, Dugar, Ming, and Sakaria, pushed PDS through to the finals on Sunday.
Despite a strong start for PDS, St. Anne’s-Belfield from Virginia prevailed in the final. Strong showings by Dugar, Ming, and Sakaria gave PDS an initial 3-1 lead. With Santamaria and Zhang unable to overcome their rivals, St. Anne’s tied the match at 3-3, and the championship came down to the final match at the seventh position. Playing possibly the best match of her freshman season, Zhou was unfortunately unable to overcome a more experienced opponent, and St. Anne’s triumphed by the narrowest of margins, 4-3.
The hard work PDS squash put in over the season was undoubtedly reflected in their strong performance at team nationals. Although they came up slightly short in the end, the team exceeded expectations and the experience was overwhelmingly positive. With the completion at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year of the beautiful on-campus squash facility in the new Athletic Center, the team is determined to come back even stronger next year and is excited to welcome promising new members as well.
Photo, left to right: Kylie Zhou '23, Lily Matthews '23, Zander Zhang '22, Devan Sakaria '23, Gavin Yang '23, Albert Ming '22, Armaan Dugar '20 and Mark Santamaria '21.