By Roger Wistar
With returners in five of the top six players on the projected boys varsity squash ladder, the team has high hopes for the 2017-2018 season.
"The nice thing is that you have guys that have been through a season or two," said head coach Jackson Marvel. "They are great role models for the newer guys on the team."
One important area in which the returners will need to help prepare the three new players is preparing for the two major tournaments at the end of the season, the U.S. High School Team Championships and the New England championships in February.
"It's a fine line of working hard and training hard without feeling like kids have lost their edge by New Englands," acknowledged Marvel, adding that with the U.S. championships taking place over Long Winter Weekend, the team will have almost no time off once they return from Winter Break.
Already the team has been working under the guidance of captain Justin Ghaeli '18 to set a positive tone and build team chemistry. Ghaeli said that thus far, the team has embraced the challenge.
"With such a motivated and enthusiastic team, my job is made easy, as I know everyone is keen on improving themselves and each other," said Ghaeli. "I try to sprinkle some words of wisdom whenever I get a chance as well."
Like last season, Ghaeli and Tyler Mackesy '19 are projected to head the top of the ladder. The duo is followed by a newcomer, Taylor Clayton '21, in the #3 spot. The prep from Rye, NY earned high praise from Ghaeli for his performance in matches thus far.
Following Clayton are another trio of returners – Scott Shrager '19, Sam Charlton '20, and Obi Okoli '20. Rounding out the ladder will be Tommy Whittemore '18, who played JV last year, and newcomer James Li '19.
In order to maintain their strength throughout the grueling winter schedule, the team will hope to build its fitness and endurance. New assistant coach Sam King should help bring the same level of physical intensity to the squash program that he introduced to boys tennis when he took over that program last year.
In addition to physical training, the team is fortunate this year to benefit from the instruction of Phil Barker, a renowned squash player and instructor. Ghaeli raved about the contributions of Barker thus far to the team's performance.
"Mr. Barker has revolutionized our practices, incorporating elements of squash that can only be taught by one who has played at such a high level," he said.