“What even is squash?” I asked my dad during the summer before I came to Groton. I had never heard of the sport before, only having a vague memory of my dad telling me that he picked it up for a while when he was in college.
In the beginning of my Third Form winter term, I finally stepped into the squash courts that I had walked past many times in the fall but was too scared to go in and play. I was a beginner, but I knew that, even playing at the bottom of the junior varsity ladder, I was having as much fun as any other player.
Soon, I was down at the courts every Sunday morning and played over break. I often wondered whether I would one day stand alongside the varsity players and train with them on the other side of the squash courts, across from the junior varsity players.
I often dreaded the long winters at Groton, but frankly, this winter has gone by quicker than I’d wanted. Making the varsity squash team in Fifth Form was no doubt the highlight of my winter – whether I had a good day or felt stressed about classes, I knew I had squash to look forward to in the afternoon.
One by one, we counted down the interschool games we played, and before I knew it, I was packing for the National Championships at the end of the season.
After spending a night in Hartford, the team squeezed into a cozy burgundy van as soon as the sun had risen, heading to Wesleyan University’s athletic center. The sound of squash balls pounding onto the wall filled the squash facilities, along with the cheering from family members and fellow teammates. My heartbeat quickened as we entered the courts, and memories of the adrenaline I felt before my very first squash match in Third Form flashed through my mind. Though we only needed more than half of the team to win to qualify for the next round, whether we won or lost, we put our hearts out there.
The first two draws were easy wins, but as we came down to the semi-finals, the scores were close. Amelia, with a blistered foot, fought for her win and put us in the finals. Ambrey, the last member to play in the finals, won the deciding game that made us the national champions.
I look up to every member of the girls varsity squash team for their fearlessness, confidence, composure during play, and their kindness and passion as people. From our daily team dinners to Instagram stories to winning Nationals, I’ve enjoyed every moment with the team, and I know these will be the memories that resonate with me most deeply from my Fifth Form winter.