Following their successful season last year, the girls varsity squash team is excited and prepared to continue playing at a high level with a positive mindset. After four seniors graduated last season, the team is unique in the fact that they will get to showcase talent through a variety of different ages. This factor is sure to aid the team and will lead them to a promising future.
Head Coach Cameron Biondi is thrilled about the upcoming season and looks forward to helping each player develop. He finds the wide age range of players to be a noteworthy feature of the team. In addition, he wants to create an inclusive environment, especially since the team has many new players. “This year, we are welcoming many new players to the team because we had four people graduate from varsity last year. By working with [Senior Captain] Annabelle [Jacobs], we can establish a welcoming culture and environment.”
While Coach Biondi focuses on developing the team, he additionally prioritizes the mental side of the game as he wants his players to understand what resilience means in squash. So, while practice is vital to a player’s success, it doesn’t determine if that player will win a match. “I want the team to be able to ride the highs and also learn from the lows,” he said. “Just because you practice a lot doesn’t mean that you’re going to win everything and play amazing the whole time; you have to get ready for those tough times.”
The team spent time preparing for their first playday of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 30. This tournament is called “WALKS,” named for the competing schools. The girls’ team played against Westminster, Loomis Chaffee, and Suffield Academy. KO came in second place out of the four teams, proving that the team already has strong skills that will benefit them for the rest of the season.
In addition to allowing team members to have more time playing, there is the added benefit of being able to reflect upon their individual performance. “The goal is to have each player feel things out, see what specific things they want to work on after having played a few people and what they think they’ve done well,” Coach Biondi said. “It’s a very different feeling from when you actually play those teams in a normal match, so I don’t treat it as a regular match. It’s more of a warm-up and a learning experience.”
During practices, Coach Biondi prioritizes the individual development of every varsity player. The team has eight players who possess varying skill levels, and everyone is still learning and getting back into the sport. Practices focus on drilling and technical work. After that, the team focuses on match play. “We also have fun while we’re doing that [technical and match play work], and that ties into resilience,” Coach Biondi said. “If you’re having fun, you’ll be able to get through the more difficult matches. But, if all you’re thinking about is winning or losing, you are upset when things don’t go your way.”
Jacobs is thrilled to begin the season as the sole captain of the team. She hopes to build an inclusive and connected team this season. “I look forward to growing as a team this year and working towards our goals collectively,” she said. “One of my goals for the team as captain is that I want to build a team environment in which everyone respects everyone. Forming close bonds between players will be key to our success.”
Junior Ilianna Brett is yet another member of the squash team who is ready for the team to begin competing. “While squash is often seen as an individual sport, we are such a close-knit community from trips to nationals to dinners off court,” she said. “We are thrilled to welcome new players as well as our returning squash players. We have a wonderful coach and mentor in Mr. Biondi, who keeps us focused on playing our best. We are planning to continue our momentum this season and stay focused on the big matches and tournaments ahead.”
The entire team already has a positive mindset that will aid them in their upcoming season. Next, the team will face off against Suffield Academy on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The KO community wishes the team luck during their upcoming matches, where they are sure to perform well.