To wrap up its inaugural season as the first varsity high school paddle team in the United States, CHS Paddle sent 16 players to the APTA Junior Nationals last weekend, playing across three divisions. Additionally, there were six Chatham Middle School players who participated in the paddle clinics run by CHS Paddle team players, who also played in this year’s nationals as well:
There were 80-plus teams and almost 200 players participating across seven divisions in the APTA Junior Nationals tournament, which draws top players from across the US.
Many of the CHS players were new to paddle this season, and gave it their all at the event, playing against more experienced competitors. That said, the Chatham teams played well and competed diligently during their play at the tournament.
The Chatham Hight team of Michael Vintzel and Casey Delsandro lost their first two matches, but went on to win their next three to come home with the U15 boys consolation reprieve draw championship.
Jackson Singer and his partner Wil Morton (from Delbarton) won their first round match in the U15 boys division before losing their second match, and moving into the consolation bracket. They lost a very close consolation match in a tiebreaker.
CHS teammates Mason Agostinelli and Mike Huth partnered together in the U18 boys group and played at Trump National in Bedminster. They lost their first match to the eventual U18 Boys winners, won one their second match and lost the third in a very close battle which would have put them into the Consolation Championship. This was both of their first junior nationals experience, and they enjoyed the competition and overall experience.
CHS Paddle co-captain Heather Ivans and her partner Stephanie Maluso of New Providence won the silver in the U18 Girls division for the second straight year. They played and won five straight matches at Fiddler’s Elbow in morning play to advance to the semi-finals. They were victorious in the semis, defeating their opponents in two sets.
That put them in the finals for the second year in a row, and they played at the Short Hiills Club against a great team from Connecticut of Megan Murphy and Kelly Van Hoesen, who had won the Junior Nationals U15 division the last two years, before aging up to the U18s this year.
The match was a battle from the start. The Connecticut team went up 2-0 early in the first set. Chatham caught up to even the score at 3-3, then 4-4 in a hard fought set that went back and forth, with many very long points of 20-30 shots per point, which is quite extraordinary for youth paddle.
Then things shifted in favor of the CT team, who went on to win the next two games to win the first set 6-4. Murphy and Van Hoesen got off to a very strong start in the second set, pulling ahead to a 5-2 lead. Chatham then regrouped and dug deep, shifting strategies and playing roller overheads to take advantage of the rainy conditions.
This put the CT team back on their heels. Chatham stayed tough, caught up from the 2-5 deficit and pulled ahead in the set 6-5. The extremely athletic, consistent and smart play of the CT girls enabled them to tie the set at 6-6, and then go on to win the tiebreaker, in this terrific and hard-fought match.
- U15 Boys
- Michael Vintzel & Casey Delsandro
- Jackson Singer & Wil Morton (from Delbarton HS)
- Pete Proscia & Luke Zurlo
- DJ Carini & Luke Cecere
- U18 Boys
- Michael Huth & Mason Agostinelli
- Kyle McClintok & Aidan Buckley
- U18 Girls
- Katie Eveleth & Bridget Eveleth
- Aerin Zucchi & Zoe Paris
- Heather Ivans & Stephanie Maluso (from New Providence HS)