5th Annual National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA) Individual Championships
The NUSEA Urban Individual Nationals is held yearly in June, at the Groton School, for kids from the NUSEA Member Squash Programs: CitySquash from the Bronx; StreetSquash from Harlem; SquashBusters from Boston; SquashSmarts from Philly; and METROsquash from Chicago. This year, for the fifth installment of the event, 230 players filled the eight divisions of play, the biggest turnout in the history of the tournament and the fourth largest junior squash tournament in the US this season. The weekend saw 454 matches in 37 hours on Groton’s 12 courts.
As the event has grown, so too has the level of squash. The U19 draws are filled with kids heading off to college squash teams and the U17 draws feature program members who play at the top of their prep school varsity teams. The U15 and U13s have kids who are ranked in the top of the national junior rankings. Across the board, the action on court was exciting and filled with spirit and passion as each kid competed hard for themselves and their team.
Results from the weekend:
Girls U13: The No. 2 seed, Ngozi Nwaoha of SquashBusters, upset No. 1 seed Lanique Rhyne of CitySquash in the final.
Girls U15: The No. 1 seed, CitySquash’s Jesse Pacheco, who played No. 5 varsity as a freshman at St. Georges this past year and went 12-1 on the season, continued her winning ways and defeated SquashBusters’ Andrea Tran in the final.
Girls U17: No. 1 seed Ashley Brooks of SquashBusters—who played No. 2 on the varsity team as a freshman at Tabor Academy and went 8-2 over the season—took the draw over Samantha Matos of StreetSquash. Samantha will be heading off to the Westover School next fall to add some serious depth to their team.
Girls U19: SquashSmarts’ star, Tempest Bowden, took care of business as she won her second Urban Squash Championship over Monete Johnson of SquashBusters. Monete will be a freshman at Trinity College next fall and looks to bring her urban squash experiences to the Bantams’ program.
BU13: This draw was a METROsquash party with both finalists coming from the Chicago based program. Taking the crown and bragging rights on the flight home was Christian Williams who won over Jordan Collins.
BU15: The finals of this draw generated the match of the tournament, with two CitySquashers battling to the final points in the fifth game. Prince Mensah took the trophy over teammate Christopher Fernandez.
BU17: CitySquash got their third championship from No. 1 seed Freddy Hernandez, who beat StreetSquash member Joshua Gary.
BU19: David Nash of StreetSquash took down Patrick Williams of SquashBusters in a marathon semifinal in five games and then had enough in the tank to win the finals over Pedro Souza of SquashBusters. The semis and finals were certainly the best squash this event has ever seen with these three top-level players. Pedro is heading off to Northeastern University this fall while Patrick will be attending Bates College. David, who age qualified for the U17s but played up a division, is easily the best player in the 10-year-history of Urban Squash. He isn’t done yet and will wreak more havoc next season.
Each year at the event, the Urban Squash award is given out to the person who embodies all the great characteristics that these programs stand for: effort, positive attitude, integrity, appreciation, and commitment to academics. This year’s winner was Monete Johnson of SquashBusters.
The event is one of the most unique junior squash events around, as it is so much more than just squash. While the event’s main focus is the squash competition with all 12 courts packed with matches all weekend, the kids are kept busy off court as well. The biggest difference from this event and other junior events is that all the participants are living together for the weekend in the dorms. Kids from different teams go from competing against each other on court to taking in a meal together at the dining hall, throwing the football on the fields, or taking a dip in the pool. On Saturday, the finals of the semester long Poetry Contest take place in front of the entire contingent, national awards are handed out, and seniors heading off to college are honored. The basketball court is full all weekend, the swimming pool is packed with kids, and there is even a staff squash challenge. With a cookout on the quad, movies in the common rooms, and dorm hallways full of kids sharing stories, the weekend is more of a celebration of another successful year of intensive after-school enrichment than it is a squash tournament. With more NUSEA programs on the way, this event will continue to grow in size and squash talent.