2002 Jr Nationals
LORENTZEN AND ILLINGWORTH HOLD COURT IN NEW HAVEN
SquashTalk News © 2002, Ron Beck Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
March 11 2002 One familiar face and one newly annointed star provided the Sunday afternoon fireworks at the USSRA Junior National (closed) Championships this weekend in Princeton NJ in the marquee under-19 events. And due to some wierd scheduling, matches were still happening hours after these climatic finals concluded.
LILY LOWERS THE BOOM
First the new star - Lily Lorentzen from Connecticut. The graceful Lorentzen is far from an unknown quantity she's been routinely winning events in her age class for the past three years. But at the elite under 19 level, she certainly shocked a few of her peers by first dispatching number two seed Kate Rapisarda and then controlling the flow and pace of the finals while ousting Amy Gross, the number one seed.
Gross, enjoying the absence of her customary rivals Michelle Quibell and Alex Pearson, cruised the Yale facility all weekend with the cool confidence of a champion simply waiting to be crowned. But the speedy and well-coached Lorentzen was quietly gaining momentum all weekend in the other half of the draw.
Lorentzen gave Amy Gross fits from the opening bell. Gross, who has been scrutinized ever since she burst onto the junior scene some five years ago with an unusual two-handed backhand, finally met a player who could keep her completely off balance by contantly shifting the ball around the court. Lorentzen used deception, accuracy, length, and the attacking boast to keep Gross moving.
Lorentzen seemed completely collected and at ease in front of the large crowd, while Gross was increasingly frustrated with being forced to scramble and with her inability to take Lorentzen out of her comfort zone. Gross' squeals and squeaks of frustration broadcast throughout the Brady Squash complex what was happening in the show court.
TWO FOR THE MAN FROM PORTLAND
Illingworth from the outset was just a little faster, a little more agile, and a little more inventive than Broadbent. It bacame, oddly, a battle of errors, and Broadbent made a few too many, especially at a critical juncture at the end of game two. Every time Illingworth presented Broadbent with an opening, a Broadbent error gave back the initiative.
Broadbent, who eats up many of his opponents with pinpoint drops out of the back court, was unable to capitalize with that approach against the Rose-City star. Broadbent was pressing a bit too hard against the accomplished Illingworth, presenting unforced errors from the back court at critical junctures. It was just enough for Illingworth to comfortably ride home with his second under 19 trophy.
But some of the best drama of the weekend was played out in other rounds and other divisions. In the men's U19 quarter finals, Chris Gordon from New York, who has spent much of the year training in England, fell prey to a war with Atlanta's Michael Gillman. It was a battle without much subtlety, as Gillman wore his determination and desire on his sleeve and rode those to the win.
In the men's U17 finals, a fine battle between Tommy Wolfe and Gilly Lane ended up in Lane's favor. Wolfe, who features an attacking game that bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain World Champion from Toronto, will certainly be heard from more in the future, while Lane produced a fantastic demonstration of controlled squash in ousting Wolfe. In the U17 round of 16, Connecticut's Parker Sutton put it all together in a five game contest, defeating Chincinatti's fourth-seeded Preston Comey.
In the woman's U15 division, Britt Hebden from Philadelphia raised her game up a notch in each successive round, finally playing super squash in the finals to oust her familiar rival Maxi Prinsen, also from Philadelphia. In doing so Hebden overcame a bizarre #3 seeding, which in itself was a strong testament to the need to overhall the junior ranking procedures. Gen Swain had a strong result, finishing fifth following her loss to Hebden.
In the woman's U17 division, Rye NY's Christina Fast barely outlasted Seattle's Claire Rein-Weston, 9-8 in the fifth game, then fell to New York's Megan Cerullo in another thrilling five game contest. Cerullo ultimately surrendered to first seed, Casey Riley in the finals.
EMILY PARK FLOWERS