The sixth annual SquashBusters MashUp, presented by Anbaric, was held on a chilly Sunday, December 9, but that didn’t stop more than 200 players, friends, supporters and students from coming out, competing hard and cheering on some great squash and platform tennis matches, all while raising critical funds for SquashBusters Lawrence. Both Brooks School and the North Andover Country Club reprised their roles as generous host sites and more than 700 donors came together to raise over $390,000, surpassing last year’s total by more than $75,000.
The money raised will provide critical operating funds for SquashBusters Lawrence, which serves 100 middle and high school students, three of whom spoke about their experiences at SquashBusters at the event. Charlenny Perez-Peña, a senior at Lawrence High School who moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 9, spoke about how SquashBusters has become a second family for her and her twin sister Chantal. She shared some of the opportunities the program has provided her, like traveling to Ohio and Pennsylvania to compete in squash tournaments, and visiting colleges across New England. With SquashBusters’ help, Charlenny has applied to ten colleges, and she and Chantal plan to be the first people in their family to graduate from college. Her younger teammates, Johsuar Moya, a junior at Lawrence High School, and Julissa Morales, a freshman at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, spoke about gaining confidence and leadership skills through the program. They, too, will be first-generation college students.
The four MashUp teams were led by elite squash and platform tennis pros, with World Champion David Palmer and paddle pros extraordinaire Johan du Randt and Scott Stanair heading captain Jon Karlen’s Andover Academics; French phenom Thierry Lincou and paddle pros Genius Chidzikwe and Scott Slobin leading captains Bill Paine and Bruce Landay’s Merrimack Volley; newcomer and current US National Champion Chris Hanson and paddle pros Evan Ambrose and Leo Power helming captain Henry White’s Essex County Nicks; and SQB Providence’s own Arthur Gaskin and paddle pros Scott Staniar and Patrick McNally taking the reins of captain John Manning’s Lawrence Legion. Team rosters were filled out by six squash players, six platform tennis players, and a Brooks or Phillips Academy student and a SquashBusters boy and girl.
After a day of hard fought matches, Andover Academics emerged victorious, winning the squash competition and securing the coveted Mash Cup with a total of 39 points. Lawrence Legion was a close second with a total of 33 points, fueled in part by their commanding win of the platform tennis competition, followed by Essex County Nicks in third with 26 points. Though last in points, Merrimack Volley once again secured the prestigious Golden Mill Award, the team fundraising trophy. Founder and CEO Greg Zaff and Executive Director Dora Lubin brought the day to a fitting close by thanking all participants – MashUp players, volunteers and donors – for their generosity and passion to see a better future for every SquashBusters student.
All photos courtesy of Marilyn Humphries. See more here.