Squash Haven wins four national titles
[Squash Haven is a Yale-affiliated organization — supported by the Class of 1964 — that promotes squash participation and college aspirations among inner-city youth in New Haven.]
New Haven, New York, Boston and San Diego Programs Win Titles at Largest Urban Team Nationals
Published by US Squash
January 20, 2016
Over the weekend of January 16-17, the 13th Urban Team Nationals brought 430 students to Boston, the tournament’s inaugural host city and the birthplace of urban squash. Connecticut’s Squash Haven again edged out New York’s CitySquash in claiming the most urban national titles in recent years, winning three of the eight A divisions. CitySquash won two A draws, and San Diego’s Access Youth Academy, StreetSquash Harlem and Boston’s SquashBusters each won a title. Reflecting urban squash’s focus on education, the weekend also included an essay-writing contest for each age division, and for the first time a group of boarding-school and college representatives attended the event as part of the event’s boarding-school and college fairs.
Pictured above are Squash Haven's BU19 champions (l-r): Laurent Briones, Joemar Aviles, Victor Padilla, Margaret Fleming, Osuman Imoro, Moubarak Ouro-Aguy, and Vinayak Mishra.
A record 18 urban squash programs sent teams to the tournament, which was jointly hosted by Harvard University and Northeastern University’s Badger and Rosen SquashBusters Facility. US Squash oversaw the competition that included 133 team matches, and over 650 individual match-ups, while a group of 15 urban squash alumni worked alongside US Squash and NUSEA staff to run the event.
All three GU13, BU13, and GU15 national titles pitted CitySquash and Squash Haven, and each match between the teams ended in tight 3-2 scores for the winners, with CitySquash taking the BU13s and Squash Haven winning the GU13s and GU15s. CitySquash and SquashBusters duked it out for the BU15 title, with CitySquash winning 5-0. Access Youth Academy beat StreetSquash Harlem 5-0 for the GU17 title. GU19 came down to StreetSquash Harlem and SquashBusters, with the New York team winning 5-0. Squash Haven came in with a bang in the BU19 division and took the title without dropping a match, with CitySquash coming in second.
In the BU17 title match, SquashBusters fought hard against Squash Haven, winning 3-2. The final match between SquashBusters’ No. 1 Matthew Nwaford and Squash Haven’s No. 1 Md Jawad brought together an enthusiastic crowd that was the largest of the weekend. The two battled it out to five, but Nwarford held his weekend’s undefeated streak, winning the fifth game 11-8. “In my seven years of coaching for Squash Haven, that was probably one of the most competitive matches I have ever seen,” reported Squash Haven’s Squash Director John Dewitt. “It was a tightly contested match that could have gone either way. In the end, Matthew was just slightly more consistent than Jawad in his shot selection and was just slightly better at coping with the pressure of having everything come down to his match.”
This year’s tournament brought new faces into the mix. Cincinnati Squash Academy, Steel City Squash, and our newest member program, Chucktown Squash, all flew to Boston for the competition. Steel City brought a GU13 and BU13 team, Cincinnati Squash Academy came with a BU13 team, and Chucktown Squash came with their BU17 team. Another new presence at the tournament included women’s squash World No. 8 Amanda Sobhy, who came fresh off of her captivating result as the finalist at the Tournament of Champions. Sobhy attended Urban Team Nationals to support her SquashBusters mentee at Northeastern.
Five of the eight divisions held B draws in addition to the A divisions. StreetSquash Harlem won the BU13 B title and CitySquash finished in second place. SquashBusters won against SquashSmarts 3-2 for the GU15 B championship. In a tight 3-2 win, StreetSquash Harlem took the BU15 title from SquashBusters. StreetSquash Harlem also won the GU17 B title against SquashWise 4-1, and the BU17 B final came down to Squash Haven and StreetSquash Newark, with the New Haven team as the victors, 4-1.
As with all urban squash tournaments, there was as much emphasis on the importance of sportsmanship and team spirit as anything else. “I was particularly impressed with the great sportsmanship demonstrated during the weekend,” said Access Youth Academy’s Executive Director Renato Paiva. “Urban squash players are raising their level and I can see many of them climbing the US Squash rankings in the near future.”
Urban Team Nationals rotates every year between New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Next year’s location will Philadelphia, home of SquashSmarts.
A Division Champions
GU13 – Squash Haven
BU13 – CitySquash
GU15 – Squash Haven
BU15 – CitySquash
GU17 – Access Youth Academy
BU17 – SquashBusters
GU19 – StreetSquash Harlem
BU19 – Squash Haven
B Division Champions
BU13 – StreetSquash Harlem
GU15 – SquashBusters
BU15 – StreetSquash Harlem
GU17 – StreetSquash Harlem
BU17 – Squash Haven