Squash Zone opened its season with a bang this year with a week long Festival of Squash culminating in finals day on Saturday which included a Men’s PSA 1K, a Women’s Pro Invitational and an amateur draw populated by club members young and old. Sponsored by 10th Street Distillery - a new leader in the American whisky market - the events were enjoyed by spectators and players alike with a high standard of squash on display throughout the week.
Men’s PSA 1K
This event attracted male professional players both from California and as far away as Cairo, Egypt. In a change from earlier closed satellite tournaments, four of the main draw positions were reserved for winners of a one-day qualification event, allowing top local juniors and even club members to compete against the seasoned pros. Raghav Kumar (Tufts University squash), and juniors Varun Chitturi, John Paul Ho, and Abhi Gupta all won their qualification matches to earn spots in the main draw. The main draw competition they met was far tougher. In the bottom half of the draw, English touring professional Chris Fuller (former world #87) advanced convincingly to the semis, where he lost out to local hero Cole Becker of Princeton University (world ranked #187) in a very tough 5 game match Friday night in front of an appreciative crowd. In the top half of the draw, Squash Zone coach Mustafa Nawar (world ranked #175) overcame fellow Squash Zone pro (and University of Rochester player) Leonard Mohr 3-0 before running into Nick Talbott (Stanford University Coach and world ranked #372) in a tough semi-finals which nearly went to 5 games. On Saturday's final, Nawar looked sharp and took down Becker (3-0) before a large crowd, solidifying his reputation as one of the top coaching professionals in California.
The womens’ draw took on a different format this year with 4 players of different level of touring experience battling it out for the top prize. Marina Stefanoni - who, at 13, became the youngest ever winner of the US Nationals U-19 - flew in from the east coast to set up a semi-final clash with the more experienced Lisa Aitken of Scotland (world ranked #37). Bay area native Serena Daniel, fresh from a World Junior Championships performance took on Samantha Cornett of Canada (world ranked #32) in the bottom half of the draw. The professionals faced off in the finals treating the crowd to a match of great physicality and strategy resulting in Lisa taking it 3-0 on the day.
Squash Zone Amateur Tournament
With entries capped at 32 we had the full complement of players both in the senior and junior divisions. Early matches proved interesting with the players with higher ratings overcoming their negative point handicaps to edge out their opponents - the unforced error count needed to remain low! In the Junior Division we had brand new members playing against more seasoned players and seedings played out to form with Aiden Yun playing Vivaan Mehta in the final. Aiden prevailed with a 2-0 win in this best of 3 format. Meanwhile in the adult division, friendly rivalries resurfaced with plenty of Squash Zone’s finest playing off for the coveted title! Kevin Sacherman, a previous winner of titles here at Squash Zone edged out Evan Goldberg in the final before they both settled in to watch the Men’s PSA final.
The final rounded out a very successful kick off to the season at Squash Zone and much appreciation must go to 10th Street Distillery for making it all possible. Here’s to the 2019 season of squash!