by AJ Copeland, VP for Women
Meadow Mill Athletic Club in Baltimore hosted the U.S. Women’s Team Championship, also known as the Howe Cup, over the weekend of Oct 21-23, 2011. The annual women’s five-person team event began in 1928 as an inter-city competition between New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and received the Howe Cup designation in 1955 when a permanent trophy was donated. The B Division was started in 1958, and a C Division added in 1968. The D Division was first played in 2003 and formally sanctioned with a trophy in 2008.
Participation has grown, and this year over 200 women representing 36 teams competed for titles awarded in four divisions.
With a total of 8 teams competing, National Capital represented more than 20% of all players and had more singles teams registered than any other city including Baltimore, and was the only city to field two “A” teams.
Wearing Harrow team jackets and matching T-shirts that sported a riff on the District of Columbia logo, National Capital players were easy to spot throughout the Club all weekend. Three of our eight teams were in the finals, including one “A” team that brought the Howe Cup home to DC for only the second time in its 56-year history.
National Capital A team
L to R: Margaret Gerety (with daughter), Camille Lanier, Shona Kerr (CT), Larissa Stephenson, Kira Keating
Captained and headed by Larissa Stephenson, the “National Capital A” team started off the tournament with solid 5-0 wins over Baltimore and the Canadian Knickers. On Saturday morning the team was hobbled by the absence of Camille Lanier at #4 and had to default the #5 position in a tough match against Philadelphia, losing 3-2.
With the team fully reconstituted later in the day, National Capital turned it on in the semis and trounced New York 4-1.
For the finals on Sunday, National Capital met Philadelphia in a rematch and, with a complete squad, won definitively 4-1. Playing at the tough #2 spot, Margaret Gerety’s fan club included her 10-month old daughter, proving to all that “there is squash after childbirth”! Congratulations to Larissa who did not drop a match all weekend, and special thanks to our mercenary from Wesleyan University, Shona Kerr.
DC University Club A Team
L to R: Abbie McDonough, Kali Schellenberg, Maggie Smith, Schuyler Haynes, Madeline Lurio
The five women who formed the “DC University Club A” team had the distinction of being the only “A” team whose members were entirely from one Club. Captained by Schuyler Haynes and led off by Abbie McDonough at #1, the UClub women had disappointing losses to tough Boston and New York teams in the round robin, and lost to Baltimore in the first playoff match. For their final match they rallied to defeat the Canadian Knickers in the 5/6th playoff, 3-2.
L to R: Carole Grunberg, Deb Phippard, Leslie Connolly, Heidi Wagner (CO), Sarah Davidson
Captained by Howe Cup veteran Leslie Connolly and led by “honorary NCS” Colorado resident and #1 player Heidi Wagner, the National Capital Squash’s “B1” team blasted through their early matches, defeating Boston, Jersey Girls, and Philadelphia all 5-0, and California 4-1. They met a very, very tough Baltimore squad in the finals where they were ultimately defeated, 5-0. This is the second year in a row that Leslie’s team has been to the finals. Wait ‘til next year!
The National Capital “B2” team, captained by Jackie Corrigan-Curay, was missing its #1 player, Alex Franceschi, for its Friday matches and dropped to the winning Baltimore team 4-1 in their first match. They went on to defeat Seattle 3-2, New York 4-1, and the Cabernet Canucks 5-0.
In the playoffs on Sunday, they pulled off a 5-0 defeat of the Jersey Girls, taking a final #3 slot in the B Division. Special thanks to Liz Tarran-Jones, our last-minute recruit from Baltimore who filled in for an NCS player who had to drop out due to illness.
L to R: Debbie Boehm-Davis, Ubu Grace, AJ Copeland, Cheryl Springfels, Stephanie Bosserman
Captained by Ubu Grace (Hoshizaki) and led off by AJ Copeland at #1, the National Capital C1 team dropped to Philadelphia in the first round. In the consolations, they defeated a New York urban squash program team, and lost to Boston and National Capital C2. In the playoffs on Sunday, they defeated the New York youngsters again to clinch eighth place.
L to R: Karin Edgett, Heidi Fisher, Dory Gannes, Elena Guarinello, Kristin Lehner
The National Capital C2 team was bumped to the Consolation bracket with a first round loss to the women’s team from Canada’s capital city. They took the next three matches to win the bracket and face Baltimore in Sunday’s match. A close 3-2 loss placed them 7th overall in the 12-team C draw.
Congratulations to DC newbie Dory Gannes (#3) who was undefeated for the tournament. For the second year in a row, Heidi Fisher (#5) made the cross-country flight from California to join the C team, studying for college mid-terms between matches. Thanks also to C2 team captain Elena Guarinello who designed the team uniforms!
With two “mercenaries” from California completing the team at the #2 and #3 slots, the National Capital C3 team started the tournament strong with a win over Boston. They went on to lose their next four matches, ending 6th in a field of twelve C Division teams.
DC Capitol Squashers (D team)
L to R: Jess Latterman, Michelle Kim, captain Mona Butterfield, Wendy Hall, Sara Khan. Missing: Candace Craig
Headlined by high school freshman #1 Candace Craig who was sporting a cast on her left wrist throughout the tournament, the DC Capitol Squashers defeated New York 4-1, Philadelphia 3-2, and Boston 3-2 to clinch a playoff berth.
Due to a scheduling snafu they played the only other undefeated team, Baltimore, on Saturday afternoon, winning 3-2. Even though a team from Warwick had dropped to Philadelphia (which DC had defeated), the DC team was pitted against Warwick for the “finals” on Sunday, and suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss, thus coming in #2 overall. Congratulations to (non-playing) captain Mona Butterfield, whose National Capital “D” team has been in the finals of Howe Cup for each of the past four years!