Scozzie Season 7, Chapter 12
The 3rd JCT of 2017/18 season was hosted at Harvard this weekend, as the countries top 32 players made their way east to the land of the Patriots. The Frank Millet JCT in Boston has always been a Scozzie favorite and was notoriously the season opening event in September. This year it was cemented in the middle of the squash calendar, presenting it as a pivotal fixture in many goal setting journals. With almost every top ranked player in attendance, the competition was extremely high, with expectations targeted to match. Could Shaam continue his record breaking unbeaten start to the season and make it 3 for 3 in JCT titles? Could we have our first U19 Champion since Sean broke the record to become the winningest male junior back in 2015? Could the Eagles beat the Cowboys in Sunday Night football to go to a record breaking 9-1?! Read on to hear all about the twists and turns of another Scozzie JCT rollercoaster…
Can the Perfect JCT Season continue?!
The man of the moment – Shaam G! The 8th grader has taken his talents to a whole new level and after upsetting the odds in JCT #1 in Cincinnati to win his first career JCT title, Shaam has continued to improve at an electric pace. One of the programs hardest workers, his successes couldn’t be more deserving and he entered the weekend on a 10 match unbeaten win streak. That kind of form never goes unnoticed and he arrived in Boston with a big target on his chest for many of his peers seeking that acclaim to be responsible for being that person to finally end the streak! From R1 all the way through to the final, his opponents brought their A games and were gunning for glory. In the first 6 game he played, every one was within 2 points. Somehow Shaam stayed cool and composed despite struggling to find his best form and still won all 6 games to reach the quarters with 2 perfect 3/0’s. In the quarters he faced his toughest challenge of the season so far. After losing 2 tiebreaks, Shaam was suddenly tied at 7-7 in the 5th and 4 points away from losing his perfect streak. The opponent was on fire and the whole of Harvard sensed an upset. Shaam went to 10-7, but then couldn’t convert any of his 3 match balls and again, tied it at 10-10. Now, hold on a second…
Super Saturday’s Surreal Sixty Minutes
2-2 and a tiebreak 5th game in a JCT quarter final sounds all too familiar. Eric did exactly the same thing in the Bu19’s up against his long term rival who’d he lost to in the quarter finals in JCT #1 in Cincinnati… oh and didn’t we mention that too was a 5 gamer. And… it doesn’t stop there… Meghna had the exact same scenario in the GU19! Facing the same opponent she defeated in 5 in Cincinatti, Meghna saved match balls in Game 4 and then the score line crept up until the refs called the famous ‘10 all, player must win by 2 clear points’! Surely that’s enough excitement to last a lifetime?! NO! All of this was within the space of 60 minutes, which will now be remembered in history as the Surreal Sixty on Super Saturday! Peter M incredibly was then part of an almost identical situation in his Bu19 quarter final! He was 2-1 down and 10-6 match ball, when he decided to create history with his very own crazy comeback!! Saved 4 match balls with some of the gutsiest squash you’ll ever see and the sealed Game 4 at his first opportunity! 4 absolute thrilling matches which had very spectator on the edge of their seats and the coaches must have suffered at least 10 mini heart attacks in the excitement! How many could we win and move on to join Elle, who by the way, managed to win 3/0 in relatively comfortable fashion in her GU19 match up. Why can’t the rest of you be more like Elle! These roller coaster thrillers are taking years off our lives and the gray hairs are continually appearing by the second! The answer….
Before we reveal all… back to Shaam! 2-2, 10-10 the true test of a champion being able to come through those situations. Well Shaam is a true champion and he played his best squash on those big points to seal it 12/10 in the 5th and make it a lucky 13 win-streak after the notorious unlucky number almost cost him his record win streak! On the next court, Eric… must of inhaled some of Shaam’s super powers as he fantastically fought of one of the most impressive shot making game 5’s we’d ever seen from an opponent. He knew the opponent was gassed, but any ball could roll and the did! His opponent couldn’t miss and somehow Eric stuck with it to 10-10. That’s when the Magic came and 2 perfect rallies resulted in another 12/10 victory and made it 3-3 in quarter final victories. Meghna’s turn! Surely after saving match balls in Game 4, she couldn’t do it again in Game 5?! Well yes she could… immediately after Eric, Meghna made it 4 for 4 upsetting a top 4 seed for her 2nd victory over her this season (both in 5!) and incredibly another Scozzie tie break success!!! Finally, Peter brought the craziness to an end with a lights out Game 5 to make it 5 Scozzie semi finalists with 5/5 from our quarter finalists! Some may say luck was on our side, but our guys showed calmness, composure and it was truly clutch squash at the biggest moments. Psychological perfection lead to exquisite execution, what an hour of excitement it was! One for the Scozzie history books, it won’t be forgotten any time soon!
JCT Finalists and Joint Scozzie of the Week
Shaam and Eric then progressed to the finals with Two excellent semi performances, Eric overcoming Peter 3/1. Shaam was up first in the BU15 final looking to make it a perfect 15-15 in JCT matches this season. The final was #1 vs #2 and the match everyone wanted to see… and these boys didn’t disappoint. Shaam raced 2-0 up volleying better than some professionals would and he looked unstoppable. Suddenly his opponent found some top shelf wisdom and clawed it back to 2-2 and set up a nail biting 5th game. Those pressure situations are where the money is made and once again, Shaam showed his resilience and champion-esq fight to seal a 11-9 victory and his 3rd JCT title of the season. What a season the young man is having, arguably the most dominant season from a junior male ever in JCT history. Next up for Shaam is the US Open, which is quickly followed by the British and Baltimore JCT where Shaam will get to test his talents against the World’s best.
Eric was up next and facing the defending U19 JCT champion who won at Penn last month. It was Eric’s first final since his sole U17 JCT victory in Baltimore and offered the chance to claim the coveted title of ‘Best Junior in the US’. His opponent hadn’t dropped a game until the semi finals and came in slightly fresher. It was the last match of the whole event and a good crowd stayed to watch the tantalizing match up which had divided opinions who the pre match favorite was! Eric began sluggishly and was disappointed to go 1-0 down. A effective change of strategy saw Eric slowly begin to implement his variation and unpredictability and completely turned the match around. He went 2-1 up and was completely in the driving seat. With the title within touching distance, Eric continued to perfectly execute and displayed nerves of steal, with the rally quality actually improving as he neared in on a 2nd JCT title. He had 3 Championship Balls at 10-9, 11-10 and 12-11, but a combination of some extremely stubborn squash from his opponent and a clipped tin which would have won it saw Eric heartrendingly drop it 14-12. It was back to another fifth game shootout and his opponent used the energy and momentum gained from sneaking the 4th game to play a perfect 5th and unfortunately left Eric with the runners up trophy. A big step forward for Eric and despite the disappointment in losing a final, can be very proud of putting himself within 1 point of a championship. He’ll now be additionally motivated to put in a huge month of training before joining Shaam with the trio of events at the end of December/beginning of January. Eric turned 18 on Thursday and was holding off celebrations until after the tournament. Hopefully the Eagles can beat the Cowboys to start the party!
Great event boys, both of you are truly deserved of your successes and are joint ‘Scozzie of the Week’ for Week 11 this season.
After Peter and Eric faced off in the All Scozzie Bu19 semi finals, Elle and Meghna became the 2nd All Scozzie match up in the GU19 3/4 play off. Elle managed to win her 4th 3/0 match of the tournament and can be really happy with her performance. Meghna played well against the top seed in the semi’s and can be proud of back to back JCT semi finals despite playing up an age group despite being eligible for U17s. Peter also came closer to cementing his place on Team USA for the World Juniors next summer in India after his 2nd semi final JCT appearance. He finished 4th to back up his Bronze Medal in Cincinatti.
There was some excellent squash on show in the Consolation Events and Scozzie has some significant involvement. Maya had her best finish of the season with a top 12 placing in the GU15’s whilst still in her down year in the division. Kristen only just recently aged up and was tremendous in reaching top 16 of the U17 girls, her first JCT in that bracket. Devon had a huge upset victory in the GU15’s defeating an opponent ranked 0.3 above her and her ranking will be boosted by her top 16 finish. Winston like Devon and Maya is also in his down year, but also demonstrated abilities way beyond his years. After upsetting a top 16 seed in R1, he almost took out the reigning JCT champion in R2. His performance was phenomenal and he Carried that form through 2 additional rounds of Consols, before foot blisters ended his run whilst 2-0 up. Lauren was 2-1 up against a top 10 ranked opponent in the U17’s and lost out in a heartbreaking 11-9 deciding set. Abby and Alexis both won R1 in impressive style, but couldn’t quite replicate that fine form in the consols. Overall, everyone played above and represented a higher level of squash than their current ranking/rating suggests. It proves all the hard work is paying off and huge Scozzie inroads are being made into the elitist levels of US Junior Squash.
Three JCT now completed and we continue our perfect record of bringing home a title from each of them. It was a great weekend of performances and development and the learning experiences will provide the perfect foundation to build from before next months US Open. Now it’s time for our favorite week of the year as all our Scozzie Alums Head back home for Thanksgiving. We can’t wait to catch up with everyone and see y’all back on court, before the highlighted annual Turkey Bowl on the 23rd where 15+ Scozzie Alums will take on the current crew of All Stars! The standings from the 3 previous years are 1 win each and then the famous tie of 2016! What will this year bring, we’re so excited just thinking about it!!! Come along at 10am to see all the action unfold!