Co-ed squash program finally gets more girl players

Team atmosphere has become more inclusive, welcoming to new girls


Macy Beal

SISTERLY STRATEGY. Serena Thomas and Sara Thomas discuss a squash point. Serena and two other girls joined Sara on the squash team after Sara spent two years as the team’s sole girl.

From the United States women’s national soccer team’s fight for equal pay, to Serena Williams’ fight against womens’ tennis attire, fights against sexism in athletics have finally reached the world’s stage. Despite activism for women in sports, U-High has seen a microcosm of women’s inequality in athletics in the co-ed squash program.

After years of being male-dominated, the U-High squash team, now with four girl players, has finally become less homogenous and headed to more success.

Sara Thomas, a junior, has spent the previous two seasons as the sole girl on the squash team. In 2017-18 she was the only ninth grader on the team — boy or girl. She said she felt intimidated and isolated on her first days.

“Eventually I found my place, but that first part was tough,” Sara said.

Despite being the youngest on the team that season, Sara certainly proved herself to the team. A former tennis player, she was a consistent scorer on the team, which led to a stronger bond with her teammates, as well as improved squash skills.

I know that it’s a kind of male dominated sport and more girls are starting to get into it, but that wasn’t really reflected on the Lab team.

— Sara Thomas

“I ended up being between third and fourth on our roster. So, since I was always going to tournaments and always playing with the top seven, I got to know them pretty well,” Sara said. “The people also saw me as an actual part of the team because I was contributing, so that helped me get acclimated.”

According to Sara, while the disparities in squash participation are easily observed at U-High, it isn’t a unique problem.

“I know that it’s a kind of male-dominated sport and more girls are starting to get into it,” Sara said, “but that wasn’t really reflected on the Lab team. There were, like, no girls that wanted to participate, even for fun.”

Now, thanks to a growing team and a better program, the squash team will participate at the U.S. Squash National Championships in Washington, D.C., Feb. 21. 

With a more cohesive and diverse group, Sara said the atmosphere has noticeably improved.

“Everyone’s really friendly. Coach does a great job of bringing people together. Everyone talks together and hangs out together,”Sara said.

This sentiment is echoed by ninth grader Serena Thomas, one of the three new girls on the team. Serena said the team community has been very welcoming.

Serena Thomas

“Within the first day of practice I had already made new friends,” Serena said. “The team is really funny, and its really easy to talk about anything.” Amy Ren and Amelia Zheng are the other new girls on the team.

With a young, talented group, Sara is optimistic. 

“Our team got a lot of really good players who are freshmen who have been playing for a long time, which is really exciting,” Sara said. “We’ll be going to nationals with a lot of great high schools, so that’ll be a really cool experience.”