The Blue Storm boys' varsity squash team went 1-3 in the Division I portion of the US Squash High School National Tournament and ended up in 12th place, right where they were seeded at the beginning. The tournament was held at the Arlen Specter Center in Philadelphia the weekend of February 24-26.
Head coach Ryan Tyree commented, "It was never a dull moment as the boys team ended up with a razor-edge result in all four of their matches! First up the boys faced off with no. 5 seeded Deerfield Academy on Friday, February 24. Mercersburg won in the top three positions with Huzaifa Ibrahim '24 (3-1) Santiago Medina '24 (3-1) and Adrian Guijarro '25 (3-0) coming out on top. Some opportunities presented themselves in the four and five positions, but slipped away so the match went 4-3 to Deerfield."
In the 1st consolation quarter-final on the evening of the 24th, the boys played #13 Darien (CT) high school. Coach Tyree pointed out that Darien featured "rising star Maddox Moxham playing no. 2. Santiago and Adrian were completely wiped from their amazing wins that afternoon, and ultimately lost in the 2 and 3 positions while Huzaifa picked up a win at #1. This was the match where our mid or back ladder spots would have to make up the difference. Sure enough, Fawad Jan '24 made things even at 2-2 by winning at #4, and Azian Subhani '23 (#5) dropped a set before winning 3-1. At position 7 Danny Adusei-Poku '23 faced an oddly placed opponent with a higher rating than the 6 or 5 players for Darien. Darien's win at #7 left the score tied at 3 wins for each team. Senior captain Francis Betkowski '23 (#6) dropped a close first game before storming back to win 3-1 and secure the team victory for Mercersburg."
On the following evening (February 25), the boys squared up with Hotchkiss School of Lakeville, CT, for what proved to be the longest and most intense match of the entire season. Coach Tyree commented that, "After defeating a higher ranked Ivy-bound senior from Deerfield, Lower-Middler Adrian Guijarro faced another higher ranked player from Hotchkiss - and once again he prevailed! Meanwhile in the 7 position Danny pushed his opponent to the fifth set before finally falling. Huzaifa stepped in and faced a friendly opponent, the brother of Mercersburg's own Kade Venkatesan '21. After Huzaifa passed through to a 2-0 lead, his opponent had to retire, so Mercersburg took an early 2-1 lead. Next up were Santiago and Francis; Santi won in four sets, while Francis fell in three. With the score now 3-2 for Mercersburg, the blue and white only needed one more win. Fawad Jan found himself in a whiplash match, winning, losing, then winning again. In the fourth set things looked ready to go in our favor, but Fawad's opponent stayed the course, ultimately winning in the fifth set, 11-8. With the match all tied up again, Azian stepped up and went the distance, saving two match balls in the fourth to play to a fifth set. Sadly, Azian lost the fifth set, leading to a 4-3 Hotchkiss win."
The final match of the tournament and season took place on Sunday, February 26 against the same opponent Mercersburg faced in the first match of the season--Gilman of Baltimore, MD. Coach Tyree said, "The first time we played them the Gilman squad came out on top with wins in the 2, 5, 6, and 7 positions, and everyone on our team was itching for this rematch. The boys clawed and battled, but in the end it was another 4-3 loss. One highlight was a fifth set victory for Santiago who had lost in the fifth to the same opponent in December, as well as commanding wins from Huzaifa and Azian, who finished his Mercersburg career with a 3-0 victory!"
"The boys were disappointed losing so many close battles in the moment," said Coach Tyree, "but the ride home was one of joy and celebration - after all, the team had finished as the no. 12 squad in the USA! Facing the best teams at the most exciting venue was an amazing affirmation, and the season win / loss tally ended up at 22 and 5. Along the way the boys captured the Flanagan Invitational, MASO tournament, and the MAPL Title for the first time in school history."
The season won-loss records for the Blue Storm seniors follow below.
Dawson Hastings: 13-4
Danny Adusei-Poku: 19-8
Francis Betkowski: 21-6
Azian Subhani: 19-5
Daniel Zhong: 18-2