February 27, 2018
Going into the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC)'s 2018 championships on Friday, coach Kihak Nam '99 admitted his girls 1st squash team was "very nervous."
Coming out of it, though, they were ecstatic: The squad squashed their competition and left the tournament, at The Pomfret School in Pomfret, Conn., on Sunday NEPSAC Class B champions!
"I cannot be more proud of these girls," said Nam. The seven players — Jackie Desautels '18, Sabrina Gribbel '19, Vicky Haghighi '19, Christy Lau '21, Cindy Liu '18, Emily Roush '18 and Abby Zerbey '19 — amassed 98 team-combined points to win first place, ahead of Westminster School's 92 points and Loomis Chaffee School's 82 points.
Scoring such success is even more impressive when you consider that only a couple of the players are used to participating in tournaments. Five out of the seven didn't even know how to play the sport until they came to Brooks School.
The championship's format didn't make winning easy for the athletes, either. Competition was based on how individual players finished in their respective positions. "If we'd played in a team-versus-team format, as they do at Nationals ... you can rely on your teammates," said Nam. "This was more pressure because the burden was on every player to do well."
And well they did. Each player impressively rose to the occasion:
• Christy Lau, at the No. 1 position, only gave up 19 points until she reached to the finals, which she lost in a very close match 2 – 3, after scoring the exact same number of points as her opponent in five games.
• No. 2 position Vicky Haghighi "pretty much dominated throughout the tournament," said Nam. The co-captain won every match 3-0 to finish in first place. "It was the best squash I've seen from her in last two years," he added.
• Sabrina Gribbel, in the No. 3 position "played very competitively," Nam said, noting that unfortunately on day two of the tournament, she began feeling ill. After winning her first match, Gribbel lost the second and had to work her way through three additional consolation rounds to finish in fifth place. "Sabrina was mentally strong," he said. "She fought hard to earn more points for the team."
• No. 4 position Jackie Desautels was seeded eighth in the tourney, but had to play the No. 1 seed when she won her first round. Desautels lost, but powered through to play three more matches in the consolation rounds to finish in fifth place.
• Abigail Zerbey, at the No. 5 position, finished in first place. "She absolutely stepped up her game," said Nam. "She played very competitively this weekend."
• No. 6 position Emily Roush "played her best squash in her high school career," said Nam of her performance, during which she won three out of four matches 3-0 and earned third place.
• Co-captain Cindy Liu, in the No. 7 position, was seeded fifth in the tournament, said Nam, "but she fought a hard fight in her first two rounds, beating her opponents 3-2 each time," which placed her in top four.
"It has been an absolute joy to have coached these girls," said Nam. "They weren't exactly the tournament players coming to Brooks with lots of squash experience on their belt, but they started learning ... and made it all the way to winning the New England Championship. I think that's an extraordinary accomplishment."
Three of the players will graduate this year and Nam is especially happy for them to have this milestone win. "They started with the thirds squash team at Brooks and are ending their high school squash career as New England champions," he said. "What a way to end their high school squash career!"
Click here for more photos and a video from the Broooks School website.