The girls of the varsity squash program are looking stronger and more confident than they have ever been. As they contend in this season’s most competitive matches, with their eyes on a New England title, they face the challenge of defeating many of New England’s finest private school teams. The girls are looking to face them head on with enthusiasm and determination.
After finishing the 2009 campaign second in New England, the team added promising new freshmen, Abby Ingrassia, Emily Jones, and Caroline Kjorlien.
Each girl reflected on the difference between playing at home and playing here. “At home I played about two to three times a week and had fewer matches, but here we play every day and have more challenge matches. I feel like it’s a greater experience here at DA,” said Ingrassia.
Kjorlien added, “Since Deerfield’s team is larger than the clinics at home, we practice with people who have diverse skills and weaknesses which helps us adapt to the unfamiliar styles of other schools.”
A major goal for girls’ squash this year is to place into the top five at New England’s, which Deerfield is hosting in February. “We’re a young team,” said Hallie Dewey ’11, “but we’re really strong and in second place now right behind Greenwich Academy.”
An even closer event in which the team will compete is Nationals, the high school tournament over Long Winter Weekend where they will be competing in the A division. “It’s hard to tell how we’ll place though,” said Seldy Gray ’11.
“We’ll be playing schools from Pennsylvania that we haven’t played in our regular season,” Head Coach Karinne Heise said. “For this tournament [Nationals], we’ll do the absolute best that we can and shoot for the top.”
In order to keep their edge that continually places them above their opponents, the girls use drills and games during each practice that emphasize strategic playing versus pure conditional training.
“There are always certain strategies that we try to work on, mainly aggression and taking control of the court,” said Mrs. Heise.
“Every day we practice different things to improve our playing skills like volleys, drop shots and serves,” said Jones.
“Another thing that is unique to only a few schools including Deerfield is a 1-7 ladder ranking system for each player,” said team captain Lilly Havens ’10.
This system is important because it helps the players each week challenge for a higher spot on the team. “The ladder doesn’t just keep us competitive, it helps us know where each one of us ranks from week to week so we play our matches at the level that we’re comfortable with,” Havens continued.
This system also really helps to us to gain a new appreciation for the entire team versus just each individual player,” said Tori Dewey ’12.
As Deerfield prepares for its biggest matches near the end of the winter, the varsity ten are also looking to the near future to defeat their regular-season rivals at Taft on February 17th.
Mrs. Heise summed it up by saying, “They’re just a fun and talented group, and a pleasure to coach.”