By Lily Levitzky and Sora Karanja
Over the winter break, six members of Winsor’s varsity squash team competed in the 2021 U.S. Junior Open Squash Championships in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lily Levitzky ’23 and Sora Karanja ’23 played in the GU19 age group; Caroline Eielson ’24 and Mina Subramanian ’24 played in the GU17 age group; Kaitlyn Doe ’27 played in the GU15 age group; and Rowan Calhoun ’27 played in the GU13 age group. This prestigious event took place at three venues: the Arlen Specter Center, University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel University. The Specter Center, a recently constructed squash and fitness center, has 18 traditional courts and two glass courts and, when not hosting tournaments, is the training facility for some of the top squash players in the US. The UPenn and Drexel courts were only a short walk from the Specter Center, and were mainly used for consolation and younger age group’s matches. A 12-hour live stream of each court was accessible through the US Squash website so that family and friends could cheer on competitors from home. A total of 900 players came from all around the world (such as Egypt, Korea, England, Malaysia) to represent their country and compete in top-tier junior squash.
Members of the team documented their progress and fun moments from the tournament on the Winsor Squash Instagram (@winsorsquash), by doing daily updates of each player’s results and information on their following matches. This sense of community support continued throughout the event, as the players made sure to attend each other’s matches and cheer each other on, no matter if it was at 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m. As Eielson explains, “My favorite part of the trip was being able to hang out with my Winsor ‘squashies’ and also updating the Instagram story!” Amidst the tense environment, the members of our team helped each other and encouraged one another to play their best possible squash.
When asked what her favorite aspect of the tournament was, Subramanian joked, “Definitely the sweatshirts we got…but I guess also the squash too. I had so much fun playing, especially with my teammates!” Every player had exciting matches, and there was a wonderful balance between overcoming disappointing losses and celebrating well-earned victories. Karanja shared, “Everyone had super competitive matches, and it took a lot of physical as well as mental strength to get ideal results.”
To let off some squash steam, our players enjoyed meals together and spent time roaming the busy streets of Philadelphia. From Chipotle and Shake Shack lunches to visiting the University of Pennsylvania bookstore, the players found many ways to enjoy team-bonding time outside of the fierce tournament atmosphere. Levitzky notes, “The high level of competition as well as sightseeing around Philadelphia made the US Open one of my favorite tournaments yet! I would love to be able to participate in more events like this one in the future, especially with my Winsor squash teammates.” Overall, Winsor squash members had a great experience at the US Open!