By Vijay Chitnis, Director of National Events, Teams and Juniors
Kevin Klipstein comes off of the court and I quickly hand him a glass of water and start coaching him against his wily opponent. At his age, I ask how is he feeling and he replies in the negative but feels that being 2-1 up that he can put it away this game. His opponent has mental lapses and cannot take the shifts in momentum. I advise Kevin to call his lets and stop playing through the ball because he is missing obvious strokes. However, his opponent is Zeke Scherl, a 15-year-old boy who is running Kevin all over the court. The result of my coaching and Kevin’s play was a 3-2 victory (9-4 in the fifth) for the opposing team. Zeke’s brilliant play and steadiness resulted in bringing his team, New Jersey, an early win in the Men’s 5.0 final against the US Squash Team.
The 2006 U.S. Team Championships presented by Squash Design (commonly referred to as the “5-Man’s”) was held December 8-10, at Yale University. Twenty-seven teams of five players competed in the event, in two divisions: 6.0 and 5.0. The 6.0 division, which had a cash prize of $2,500, was a showcase for some of the best squash the US has to offer.
In 2005, Team Hartford, comprised of three residents and two out-of-towners, won their first U.S. Team Championship. Last year’s “international” team of Mark Heather, Karim Yehia, Reggie Schonborn, Dylan Patterson and Joe Pentland were strong enough to defeat Princeton’s first squad.
In 2006, the top 6.0 division was supposed to be dominated again by ”The Internationals” as they were re-branded, which had present World No. 34 Liam Kenny at number one, Bernardo Samper at number two, Mick Robberds at three, Reggie Schonborn (the only returning member) at four and former top-thirty PSA ranked Dan Sharplin at five. However, the Trinity College team didn’t read the script and nearly beat the team of professionals in the finals. Reggie got them off to a quick lead as he rushed off to catch a flight to South Africa. Eduardo Perriera wasn’t supposed to give Dan Sharplin much of a match but, after winning the fourth 10-9, a visibly tired Sharplin had to pull it together in the fifth to win this crucial match because, at the same time, Mick Robberds lost to Rushabh Vora and Gustav Detter beat an injured Samper. As much as I would like to script the unranked Trinity team’s Shaun Johnstone would beat Liam Kenny, it was not to be.
The 5.0 division, populated by as many women’s college teams as men’s teams, was also competitive and ultimately won by the aforementioned squad of junior and adult players from New Jersey. Joining the victorious younger Scherl was team captain, proud father and perennial “5-Manner” Michael Scherl, Vineet Asthana, Dan Geiser, Ed Claris and Hany Zaky.
All the teams were guaranteed three matches since the format was playing out to place. Some teams may have lost four matches but we won’t report on them. This year the event hosted five women’s teams and next year there will surely be more as participation already doubled for these championships.