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Squash Stars From Stamford's Chelsea Piers Win U.S. Junior Titles

Marina Stefanoni, left and Nina Matel, right celebrate with coach Natalie Grainger. Grainger coaches Stefanoni, of Darien, and Matel, of West Harrison, at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford. Photo Credit: Contributed
Left to right are squash standouts Nina Mital, Lucie Stefanoni, Ian Blatchford and Marina Stefanoni. They play out of Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford. Photo Credit: Contributed

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Two members of the Elite Squash Program at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford took first place in their age groups at the U.S. Junior Nationals.

For the second year in a row, Darien's Marina Stefanoni won the girls under-13 division, while Wilton's Ian Blatchford won the boys under-15 division.

In addition to Stefanoni and Blatchford, four other members of the Chelsea Piers Connecticut Elite Squash Program placed in the semis or finals of their age groups, including Marina’s sister Lucie Stefanoni, Nina Mital of West Harrison, N.Y.; Ashley Manning of Rye, N.Y.; and Kayley Leonard of Harrison, N.Y.

The younger Stefanoni finished second in the girls under-11 division, and Manning took fourth in the girls under-13 division.

Mital reached the finals of the girls under-13 division after defeating an opponent she had never previously beaten. She lost in the finals to  Marina Stefanoni.

Leonard, who will be competing for the U.S. Junior National Team this summer before heading to play for Harvard University in the fall, finished third in the girls under-19 division and was awarded the DeRoy Sportsmanship Award at a ceremony after the Championship.

The DeRoy Junior Sportsmanship Award is awarded to one female and one male high school senior who display exemplary on- and off-court behavior while competing at a high level of squash.

“We ended up exceeding our expectations with strong showings in several age groups for both boys and girls,” said Natalie Grainger, director of Squash at Chelsea Piers Connecticut. “We are proud of all the players’ performances and look forward to putting the building blocks in place for next season during the summer.”

The Elite Squash Program, developed by Grainger and led by head coach Supreet Singh, combined with the excellent team of coaches assembled by CPCT, provides a healthy and competitive training environment for the kids.

“Our program is less than three years old, but we are already seeing the results of attracting a talented group of players and providing them with high-level coaching in a fun, supportive and energized atmosphere,” Grainger said. “It’s exciting to see the kids improve their technical and tactical skills quickly and also enjoy the unique, team-like atmosphere.”

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