Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Girls place third at nationals as both GFA Squash teams play their hearts out
John Nash

The Greens Farms Academy squash programs once again hit the national stage, competing in the US Squash High School National Championship tournament in the greater Hartford area over the weekend.

The Dragons were more than competitive, with the up-and-coming girls program shining the brightest and finishing third in the Division VI rankings.

The boys team, meanwhile, was bumped up a class to Division IV and was very competitive in finishing 2-2 on the weekend with a pair of 4-3 losses, to finish 11th.

For the girls, it was a great weekend playing at a high level.

“I thought the girls were great this weekend,” Coach Sean Gibbon said. “They played very hard. They really enjoyed it and liked being there. At times, some of the players I think were overwhelmed by everything about the experience, but during matches that all went away. They realized it was a big deal and they were right in the middle of it.”

On Friday, the second half of the GFA lineup pulled out wins as the Dragons notched a 4-3 victory over Briarcliff in the quarterfinals.

Mary Kessler, Anya Bettegowda, Annabelle Kreitler, and Keely O’Shea all earned straight set wins to advance to the Division 6 semifinals on Saturday.

Kessler only lost five points, O’Shea only lost four and Kreitler lost just two.

On Saturday, in the semifinals, the Dragons fell to Brookline, Mass., by a 4-3 score.

Clare Foley took the win at No. 1, Kavya Krishnamurthy won at No. 3, and Kessler won at No. 4.

Two other matches went four sets with another match going five sets.

On Sunday, the Dragons, who are led by captains Charlotte Cohen and Foley, took third place by beating Staples by a 6-1 score.

Lucy Nelson won as did Krisnamurthy and Kessler. All other matches were awarded to GFA by default.

Gibbon was especially impressed knowing his team is young and will be able to grow from the experience.

“A lot of these girls haven’t played a lot of squash,” he said. “I’m super proud of how that girls played so hard and were amazed by it, but not daunted by it. It was fun to watch and I’m lucky it’s a young team.”

On the boys side, Coach Attila Agh wanted everybody to know his team played far better than what appears to be an 11th-place finish out of 16 teams.

“Sadly that number does not reflect how well our boys performed last weekend, as we also know that they were only one winning rally away from beating the 4th place finisher team, Rye,” Agh said. “However, as coach of the GFA boys teams, I have no regrets, as we all tried our very best and I feel proud and happy for all our teams.”

On Friday, the Dragons went 1-1.

The Dragons topped SquashSmarts by a 5-2 score after falling to Rye (NY) High School in the opening round.

In the consolation semifinals, GFA fell to New Canaan by a 4-2 score while in its final match of the tournament, GFA bested Greenwich High School 5-2.

Senior captain Marshall Bessey and classmates Giani and Piero Panariello and Patrick Howard led the Dragons into the weekend. Junior Blake Newcomer, sophomores Will Sarbinowski and Will Mackle, and seventh grader Eddie Xue played their hearts out from the opening match to the last point, according to Agh.

“We left a positive mark in many ways over the weekend, not only because our skilled players performed excellently on and off court, but also for displaying high standards in terms of sportsmanship, team spirit, and integrity,” Agh said. “Both of our other teams—the JV boys and girls varsity—have traveled to cheer on the varsity boys at their final matches yesterday which was an exceptional display of our school's motto, ‘Each for All.’”