National Capital Squash sent five teams in four divisions to the 2015 Howe Cup, held at the Murr Center courts of Harvard University in Boston, MA. This was the largest ever Howe Cup, with more than 250 women from all over the country and Canada participating in the three-day event November 7-9.
The NCS A team featured Baltimore high school senior Casey Wong at #1, the only woman returning from the 2014 Howe Cup championship A team. Howe Cup newcomer Chanel Erasmus, a recent Trinity graduate, was recruited to play #2. Recent George Washington University graduate and Colombia native Maria Porras played in her first Howe Cup at #3. Casey’s older sister and new NCS member Lindsay Wong played #4, and rounding out the team at #5 and serving as captain was Wisconsin resident and perennial Howe Cup “orphan” Leslie Cameron. The team competed against each of the other A teams in a round robin format and won three matches
against one Philadelphia and one Boston team and a West Coast-based “Olympic” team. They dropped two contests, one against a senior Boston team and the second against the winning Philadelphia team that swept the draw without dropping a single match, thus finishing third in a field of six teams. The players, none of whom knew each other before the tournament (other than the Wong sisters), gelled beautifully as a team and had a blast.
National Capital Squash fielded two teams in the B division at Howe Cup, which had a record 21 teams total in the draw. The NCS B1 team was captained by Howe Cup veteran Carole Grunberg, who won all four of her matches at the #5 position. Well played Carole! Colorado resident and adopted NCS player Heidi Wagner played in the #1 spot. Potomac School senior Katy Correia played #2, and the #3 and #4 spots were filled by Teddy Weiss and Sarah Davidson respectively. In the first round, the team pulled out a 3-2 win against a competitive team of college players from Queen’s University in Canada, and then soundly defeated the NCS B2 team 5-0 in the second round. On the second day of play the B1 team encountered the formidable Fairfield County Flash, who ultimately won the B draw, and fell in a hard-fought 1-4 loss. In the Classic Plate consolation draw they lost 1-4 to one of four Boston B teams in their final match of the tournament.
Why does this team photo have six people in it? The second NCS B team, dubbed B2, was captained by AJ Copeland who played at the #3 position. Nicole and Jess Powers, sisters from Connecticut who have been NCS “mercenaries” for many years, played at #1 and #2 respectively. Andrea Powers, a Seattle resident, was recruited as an “orphan” and picked up the #5 spot. Unfortunately, the woman designated to play #4 for NCS B2 was a late scratch due to illness. Unable to find an uncommitted B player to fill that spot, the team picked up California native Juliet Lamont who was also playing (at the #2 position) for the Boston “Orange Line” B team! Sporting a shiner sustained in a pre-tournament squash match, Juliet played six matches in the first two days of the tournament, (winning 2 of 3 that she played for NCS B2). What an Energizer bunny! On Sunday Juliet ceded her spot to a Boston teammate, Ann Bellinger, whose team was out after only three matches in the tournament. As it happens, Ann was an NCS member as a junior player and played for an NCS D team in the 2008 Howe Cup. The B2 team met the B1 team in their first contest, losing 0-5 and getting bumped to the main Consolation Draw. For their second match B2 defeated an urban squash team, NUSEA, 5-0, and then lost in a 2-3 nail-biter against a tough Boston Red Line team. In classic Howe Cup fashion, the team was still in the tournament, and won their remaining two matches in the second Consolation plate on Sunday against a New York team and a Philadelphia team, both 3-2.
C Team: Hot Shakers
The NCS C Team was headlined by Cindy Vojtech at #1, followed by Donna Sharpe, Stephanie Bosserman of Charlottesville, and Elena Guarinello. Former NCS junior (now Boston resident) Heidi Fisher held up the #5 position. In pool play the Hot Shakers lost their first contest 1-4 to the ultimate C champions, Boston Knows Howe, with a number of hard-fought games going to 4. The team then defeated a Portland team (“Howe About Portland?”, advocating to host Howe Cup in 2017), followed by two 2-3 losses to two different New York C teams. The final challenge against the Dartmouth Dames saw Heidi and Elena winning in five games, Cindy and Donna each recording a loss after four games, and a DC default at the #3 position. Final place in the tournament was somewhere in the middle of the field of 12 C teams.
D Team: DC Spicy Squashers
The NCS D Team was led off by former Philadelphia D team player Alex Cummin at #1, followed by Christi Tezak, Melinda Hendricks of Charlottesville, Maureen Wylie, and Annette Zehler. The D team won two of their five contests.