First-year Rye High Head Coach Quan Huynh led his squash hopefuls into the lions’ den…make that the Wildcats’ den…
By Mitch Silver
First-year Rye High Head Coach Quan Huynh led his squash hopefuls into the lions’ den…make that the Wildcats’ den…January 13 for a cross-town game of racquet-and-ball. He knew ahead of time what his boys were in for. “Rye Country Day is in the Top 10 in New England and we’re just starting to build a program, so we’re going to take our lumps while we get match experience.”
As expected, the battle-hardened squad from Grandview Avenue prevailed, led by junior Carl Shuck at number one. Although many of the points were closely contested, he wore down Rye’s standard-bearer, sophomore Spencer Hunt, in straight games, 11-4, 11-2, 11-1.
Jack Mattson similarly beat Jon DiPalma at number two in games of 5, 7, and 5. Rick Burke topped the Garnets’ Jack Maresca at number four, Jared Yanis won over Will Bennett at five, Kyle Eagan defeated Chris Julian at six, and Hunter Chun was too tough for Pater Latara at seven, all in straight games.
The same was true of the exhibition matches 8 and 9. Nathan Spring had to work to beat James McFarland 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 and Jon Singer’s match with Rye’s Mason Baldwin went to overtime before he could earn the victory.
It was a different story on Court 3, though. The visitors’ Charlie Flynn gave Eli Rattner all he could handle, winning the first game 11-9. Rattner came back for two relatively easy wins (11-3 and 11-7) before Flynn pulled off another 11-9 game. In the only match of the afternoon that went the distance, the tiring Rattner held off the equally exhausted Flynn in the fifth, 11-6.
Afterwards, Quan was upbeat. “At the Nationals in February, we’ll play in Division Five against teams at our level. Rye Country Day will be there too, but probably in the top group against the best teams.” He smiled. “We understand.”
Country Day Head Coach Brian O’Callaghan was smiling as well. “Their guys battled hard. I think our renewedemphasis on fitness is helping us. We have the kids running, cross-training, lifting weights…last year we were dropped down a level at Nationals and we want to get back into the top flight.”
Earlier in the season, the Wildcats lost to eighth-ranked Hotchkiss on the road, 3-4 before dropping an 0-7 decision to New England’s No. 1 team, Brunswick. Easy wins over Riverdale and Saint Luke’s have the team looking forward to what Coach O’Callaghan calls, “The eye of the storm in our schedule.” Greens Farms, Millbrook, and Taft stand in the way before a rematch with Hotchkiss January 24.
Carl Shuck, for one, is looking forward to it. “I played that guy too tentatively last time out. I have to go for my shots, play front-to-back. Next time I’ll be a lot more confident.”
The Garnets, too, should gain confidence from their competitive efforts against one of the region’s best teams. We’ll know more in three weeks at Nationals.