Athlete of the Issue: Katherine Sapinski

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Katherine Sapinski ’21 (left) during a squash match, courtesy of Angela Wei ’21

Walking off the court at the New England Interscholastic Squash Tournament, Katherine Sapinski ’21 had no idea that could be her last squash match for Groton. She had just gone undefeated at High School Nationals and only lost one very close match at New Englands. She was already ecstatic for her final season as captain the following year. Currently, Kat is ranked 7th nationally on the US Squash Girls Under 19 Group. Her squash career has been extremely successful, and her overall record last season was 19-2. Her presence in the ISL has been dominant, losing only one match to an ISL team. Due to the complications of Covid-19, there may not be any interscholastic competition this upcoming season. As a dedicated player and the captain of girls varsity squash, Kat’s Groton squash career may be over but definitely not forgotten.

 

When did you first start playing squash?

 

I first picked up a squash racquet when I was nine years old. For the first couple of years I played just for fun, and then became more serious about it in sixth grade when I started traveling around the country to play in various tournaments. 

 

Why do you enjoy the sport so much?

 

I owe a lot of my passion for squash to my first squash coach, John Lau. His love for the game was infectious, and it’s something I still carry with me every time I step on court. I also love playing squash because of all of the different techniques, tactics and shots that shape it. It’s always the best feeling to master a new shot in practice or use a new technique in matchplay, and it’s small victories like that that keep me coming back for more. 

 

What’s the best thing about playing squash at Groton?

 

While this may sound a bit cliche, the girls squash team has made my squash experience at Groton unforgettable. Whether it be the time we all spent together playing squash and having Braais in South Africa, or beating St Marks’ in a tight 5-4 fashion to clinch the Div 3 title at Nationals, it was the people on the team that made Groton squash memories so special. 

 

What is your most memorable moment at Groton squash?

 

I’d say that my favorite memory is winning the Division 3 National title in my fifth form year. It was a nail-biter match like no other. Ultimately, it came down to Ambrey Hayes’ ’20 deciding match that she ended up winning in extra points in the fifth game. It was beyond exciting, and I’ve never felt more pride in my team than I did at that moment. 

 

What is one squash rally you can recall that you’re most proud of?

 

That’s a tough question… it’s hard to place just one squash rally, but throughout the years I had some close matches against the Brooks #1 and remember always having a big crowd outside the court cheering me on. There were a lot of long, hard-fought rallies in those matches and what got me through it most was the support of teammates and fans cheering me on and keeping me focused. 

 

Who inspires you the most to give your best during matches?

 

First and foremost, my parents – before every single squash match since my freshman year, my parents have always either emailed, called, or texted a note of encouragement that always fueled me to give every match my all. I also want to give my mid-match coaches – Mike Tootill, Caroline Wilcox ’20, and Lily Kempczincksi ’21 – huge credit for motivating me between games and providing me with words of advice and encouragement throughout my matches. 

 

Your time at Groton is coming to a successful end. Is there anything you want to say to present/future Groton squash players?

 

Enjoy every moment of it! You’re surrounded by great squash resources and players at Groton, whether that be players on your team, the boys squash team, Hope Prockop or Mike Tootill, so do your best to take advantage of their squash wisdom and expertise!

 

Obviously, due to Covid-19, the squash season will be somehow changed. What are your hopes for this upcoming season?

 

I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to get back on the court as a team before Thanksgiving break, and although this season will look much different than seasons prior, I’m hoping that we can still foster the same energy and enthusiasm as always during our practices. So far we’re off to a great start!