Squash Haven Declared Champs

Contributed PhotoSquash Haven, a local not-for-profit that puts city kids on the squash court, returned from a national tournament with five championship titles in hand. The organization sent in the following write-up:

This past Saturday morning at the eye-opening (closing?) hour of 5:30 am, 47 Squash Haven team members boarded a bus for Boston and the National Urban Team Championships, the indisputable highlight of our competitive season.

This year’s event, held at Northeastern and Harvard Universities, featured hundreds of urban squash players in teams of five from twelve member programs around the country.  Long-standing rivalries played out and friendships were renewed in a competition where sportsmanship, character, and effort are as important as matches won.

Squash Haven returned to New Haven on Sunday with a program record five championships: four team squash titles (out of 6 age groups entered) and a national essay champion!

Given the emphasis on academic excellence and college preparedness in urban squash, the first championship of the weekend was perhaps the most important. Fourth year team member Denise Bonilla was named the National 15 and Under Essay Champion for her answer to the query, “What is one thing that you hope never changes about you and why?”

On Sunday morning, Squash Haven headed into five finals. Our teams came out fit, focused, and determined to make their mark. They did not disappoint.  The #1 seeded Boys Under 17 team notched an early 4-1 win, followed soon after by wins in the Girls Under 13 and Under 17 divisions.

The longest and closest match of the day was in the Boys Under 15 division, where we faced rival City Squash (Bronx, NY) in a rematch of the last four years’ urban finals. With the match in a 2-2 deadlock, Squash Haven’s #1 Osuman Imoro fought off match point in the fourth game before prevailing 11-9 in the fifth.  Teammates flooded the courts to celebrate what was a total team effort.

With high school midterm exams this week and the National Middle School Championships this coming weekend, team members are already looking ahead to their next challenges.  We will, however, take time to savor our titles with a team banquet for students and families next week.

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