Riverdale girls dream of squashing opponents
By Raphael Sugarman
Sarah Horne has been playing tennis since she was 3-years-old, but finds something liberating about whacking a squash ball as hard as she can.
“You don’t have to worry about it going into the net or going too far,” said Horne, the sophomore co-captain of Riverdale Country School’s girls’ squash team.
Horne’s spunk is true to form. She played squash last season as a freshman and is the only female player on the Falcons’ coed team.
“I liked the experience, because my game got better by always competing against players who were better than me,” she said.
But, when John Pizzi, the school’s new athletic director, decided to expand the squash program to include separate male and female teams, Horne was a natural choice to help lead the new girls’ team.
She is joined by fellow co-captain Jacqueline Laret, another sophomore, who seems equally as enthusiastic about the sport.
“It’s a great workout,” said Laret. “There is a lot of lateral movement and lunging. You have to move quickly and efficiently.”
To the uninitiated, squash is the most esoteric of all the racquet sports. It mixes long-necked racquets with tight, strictly defined courts.
While the average racquetball court is a fully enclosed space measuring 40 by 20 feet, with a height of 20 feet, a squash court is 32 by 21 feet, with clear outlines at the top of the court and on the front wall.
Unlike a racquetball, which measures 2.25 inches in diameter, a squash ball is only 4 centimeteres.
When cold, this ball is virtually dead to the bounce, but once energized by play, it is like a miniature Spaldeen with attitude, inviting some of racquet sports’ fiercest, delicate and oblique exchanges.
Learning to win
Predictably, the fledgling team is still finding its way, having been shutout in its first two matches.
On Jan. 18, the Falcons were shutout 7-0 in matches against Hackley.