US SQUASH

Rosini and Robinson Stage Shock National Juniors Title Runs

Thomas Rosini and Olivia Robinson

Thomas Rosini and Olivia Robinson—both seventeen years old and ranked fifth in the country—staged surprise runs to the 2019 U.S. Junior Squash Championships U19 titles, March 15-17, at the Boar’s Head Resort’s McArthur Squash Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.

View all results here and select tournament photography here.

Both players entered the tournament not seeded to go past the quarterfinals, and both players defied expectations by reaching the semifinals where they upset the tournament’s top seeds—Marina Stefanoni and Ayush Menon—followed by triumphant finals performances Sunday on the all-glass show court.

Robinson, a New York City native, pulled off the biggest shock of the tournament by dethroning Stefanoni, the three-time girls’ U19 defending champion, Saturday night. Robinson earned a 2-1 lead over Stefanoni 11-9, 11-2, 8-11, but the sixteen-year-old regained momentum to force a fifth game by taking the fourth 11-7. A close fifth game saw Robinson fight off a match ball to go on and pull off the upset 13-11 in the fifth.

Rosini, a Gladwyne, Pennsylvania native, followed on the same court after Robinson’s upset to pull off his own against Menon, which came more decisively in three games over his 2018 World Juniors teammate 12-10, 11-7, 11-8.

Robinson entered Sunday’s final against two seed Elisabeth Ross brimming with confidence, earning a 2-0 lead 11-9, 11-2. Ross, the 2018 finalist, then pulled back a game in the third 11-8. Robinson pulled away in the fourth to clinch her first career national juniors title in any age group 11-5. The result ensures that Robinson will represent Team USA at the 2019 World Juniors this summer in Malaysia.

“The key to my success was the support of my family, coach and friends,” Robinson said. “I was so shocked to defeat Marina yesterday in the semis. It was definitely a peak to my whole season and a highlight of my junior career. I was able to overcome some trouble earlier in the season thanks to hard work. All of that hard work definitely paid off with this win today.”

The tournament fittingly concluded with a marathon boys’ U19 final between Rosini and three seed Dillon Huang, who upset two seed William Ezratty in a four-game semifinal. Huang appeared to be within reach of the title, going two games up 11-6, 11-7. Rosini responded however, edging the third 11-8 and emphatically forcing a fifth game 11-2 in the fourth. The score remained tight until Huang earned three championships balls up 10-7. Rosini defiantly fought off all three championship balls and pushed on to clinch the title 12-10.

“I told myself to keep fighting,” Rosini said. “I knew I was a few match balls down, but I wanted to give it everything I had. It could have gone either way at the end. We both just kept fighting. I‘m just glad that I pulled through.”

Rosini and Huang represented Team USA together at the 2018 World Juniors.

“Dillon was definitely controlling things in the first two games,” Rosini said. “So when I came out for the third game I tried to push it up as much as possible. I tried to volley everything and make it as physical as I could. Today it worked out.”

The U17 age division saw two players add on to their National Juniors title records in the form of Conner Stoltz and Avni Anand. Stoltz, the three seed, was the only top four seed to advance to the semifinals, where he defeated Coulter Mackesy in three games. In the final, Stoltz prevailed 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3 against Christian Shah to collect his third national title, adding to his 2015 U13 and 2013 U11 titles.

Both Anand and GU17 finalist Molly Stoltz advanced to the final with five-game semifinals. In the final, Anand came back from dropping the first game to claim the title 3-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4. The title marks Anand’s second national title, following up her 2017 U15 title.

In the BU15 division, Tad Carney proved to be the only top seed to fulfill his seeding in the eldest three age divisions. Carney dropped only one game all tournament on his way to the title, culminating in an 11-6, 14-12, 11-8 final win against three seed Varun Chitturi. Carney, who won the BU15 U.S. Junior Open title, celebrates his first National Juniors Title.

In the GU15 division saw the top two seeds, one seed Lucie Stefanoni and two seed Mika Bardin, advance to the final without dropping a game. In the final, Bardin dethroned the defending champion 11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9 to capture her first national title.

BU13 two seed Ahmad Haq notched his second national title and first in the U13 age division with a three-game victory over Brandon Wang 11-9, 11-2, 11-6. In the BU11, top seed Jack Elriani defeated two seed Omair Athar 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 to clinch his first national title.

In the GU13 final, top seed Sarita Popat swept to victory over two seed Eva K. Salzman 11-3, 11-8, 11-3, marking her first national title. GU11 one seed Grace Lodge earned her first national title by coming back from 2-1 down to defeat three seed Ariana Shah 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5.

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