New coach, same high expectations for Sacred Heart squash

The Convent of the Sacred Heart squash team has a new coach this season, but that doesn’t mean that the Tigers and Celia Allamargot don’t have the same high expectations that the Tigers make every season.

“It’s really nice and I’m happy to be the new head coach,” Allamargot said. “It’s also a big challenge for me because it’s something that I’ve never done before and it’s something that is very important. Being a head coach in America is a lot different than in France, where I am from. It’s important for me to appreciate this opportunity.”

For Allamargot, coaching for the first time at the varsity level has given her a few challenges to overcome.

“The expectations here are really high,” Allamargot said. “Every one is hoping for a strong start to the season and a good season overall. I am just hoping that I am going to do what people are expecting of me.”

Helping Allamargot feel comfortable at the helm of the Tigers are Sacred Heart senior captains Mary Grace Henry and Sheila Moran.

“Both girls have done a great job trying really hard from the start of the season,” Allamargot said. “They aren’t going to give up and really try their best. I think that’s great because they show the other girls on the team that even if you have to lose, as long as you try your best during the match it’s okay. They are showing the girls a good direction to take and that pushing through is very important.”

Both leaders have been a huge help, not only to the underclassmen on the team, but also to the first-year head coach.

“I am expecting them to help me get the whole team together,” Allamargot said. “They are the people between me and the rest of the girls on the team. It was important for them to help get this team chemistry to where it is because they already knew the girls. It really helped me early during practices. The captains really did a good job making me feel like I was a part of the group.”

Sacred Heart’s starting roster consists of Henry, Alexandra Lilly, Catherine Keating, Olivia Monahan, Isabella Libassi, Haley Davis and Haley Horn.

“I expect them to push each other up and try to have them all play well and do their best,” Allamargot said. “I also the starters to make the girls behind them want to pull even more to try and beat them. They all have a lot of potential. A lot of these girls here have a tennis background and I am going to have to get rid of their tennis swings and convert them to squash swings. Olivia Monahan and Catherine Keating have been looking good and are also young, so I think there’s hope that we could build something here with them.”

In addition to the starting lineup, Moran, Catherine Eagen, Maggie Davis, Simone Nix, Kendall Newman and Sophia Brusco are also fighting for some time on the starting roster.

The hardest challenge for Sacred Heart this season will be improving its technical abilities.

“They are all moving well,” Allamargot said. “Obvious they’ll get tired after playing five games, but I think they are all in good physical shape. For me, I would really like to see them evolve technically during the season and get those little problems corrected. They need to get more in control with their wrist. A lot of them play too much with their wrists. In squash you have to use your forearm a lot. I also want them to work on the positioning of their racket. Sometimes it’s really low, but I want them to put their racket up more and get that extra power that they need.”

As of press time, the Tigers are 2-1 on the season. They upended King School 6-1 and beat Greens Farms Academy by the same score. Sacred Heart’s lone loss was a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Millbrook School. Against GFA on Monday afternoon, the Tigers came away with a plethora of hard-fought victories.

Henry won her match against Charlotte Kreitler 3-2 (11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 5-11, 11-9), while Keating blanked Ingrid Backe 3-0 (11-1, 11-4, 11-9). At No. 4 was Monahan and she beat Avery Vanacove 3-2 (11-6, 11-3, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10), while Libassi took care of GFA’s Carolina Conzelman 3-0 (11-3, 11-5, 11-3).

Both Horn and Davis won their matches 3-0, as Davis took care of Georgia Bakes at the No. 6 spot 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 and Horn upended Green Farm’s Julia McGonade 12-10, 11-8, 11-5.

“I think the girls can win a bunch of good matches,” Allamargot said. “We have two big tournaments and I think that we can do really well at those later in the year. Last year we were second at Nationals in Division IV and I would like to see us try to win it this year. I want my girls to do their best during every match they compete in.”

So far, the first-year head coach is having the time of her life as head coach of the Tigers.

“I am really having a good time and I’m really happy with this group,” Allamargot said. “They are all really nice and have some different personalities. They bring a good atmosphere to the program and for me it’s interesting to work with a group of girls. I really hope we will work together and learn from each other. We have a great time during matches and work really hard during practices. The girls cheer for each other and really want to see each other do well.”

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