Matthew Tavarez ’22
The Junior U.S. Open squash tournament took place December 18 – 21 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mercersburg Academy sent three elite squash players to compete at this tournament: Martina Vega Calero ‘23, Indira Moshi ‘24, and Huzaifa Ibrahim ‘24. These students represented Mercersburg with pride – just qualifying for this tournament deserves great respect.
Calero and Moahi both faced fierce competition as the Girls U17 division was rife with incredible squash talent. Competing at this tournament requires extensive work. Moshi spoke on the rigors of her preparation. “When heading into the tournament, I was at school training both during practice and outside of scheduled PGA practice by myself. I had to combine both physical training and playing to make sure that I balanced it out well and so that I could improve. But once we were allowed to go back home early for break, I was training everyday at my home club for 4-6 hours a day.”
Moshi ended up clearing her first round opponent and fell just short of a second round win against a tough opponent. Calero also fought hard but was knocked out before the main draw. Looking back at her performance, Calero talked about what she learned most from the experience: “I have to get more fit both physically and mentally leading up to each tournament. It’s all about myself to keep working hard and playing matches. The level that the tournament’s competitors are, it requires whole new levels of dedication and hard work.”
Also competing for Mercersburg was Huzaifa Ibrahim ‘24, winner of the US Open in 2019 for the U15 category. Ryan Tyree, coach of Mercersburg squash, said, “[Huzaifa] entered the tournament with a target on his back as other players were hungry to prove themselves against the best in the game.” After cruising through the first three rounds, Huzaifa won a tough match against a former #1 U17 opponent. In the semi-final of the tournament, Huzaifa lost a close match in the fifth and final round, placing him at #4 overall. Ibrahim was asked about his goals for the future. “I am playing in a tournament in about a month. I am trying to continue to get fit with both time on and off the courts. It’ll be my first U19 tournament, so it will be some tough competition,” he said.
Coach Tyree reflected on Mercersburg’s competitors at the US Open. “I want to tell Martina, Huzaifa and Indira how very proud I am. Seeing them having fun and hanging out with the other players was just as rewarding as supporting their efforts on court. And thinking about recent comments from a football coach in Alabama, I’d also remind them how valuable they all are as members of our program – and that I can’t wait to work with them through the rest of this season and on ahead as they compete for Mercersburg!”