This past weekend, 24 of the best female squash players from all over the world spent five days in Philadelphia to battle it out on the courts of the Philadelphia Cricket Club (PCC) at the inaugural Chestnut Hill Classic presented by Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The athletes, coming from Belgium, Egypt, Latvia, Hong Kong, England, Malaysia, Switzerland, France, Canada, Germany, Ireland (and more!) also included two Olivias who grew up and learned the game locally and now live in Philadelphia. Ironically, after three hard-fought matches leading up to the championship, it was the Olivias, Olivia Fiechter, ranked #9, and Olivia Clyne, ranked #15, and Team USA teammates who faced each other on the court in the final round of competition.
Prior to the tournament, Fiechter, SCH Class of 2014, wrote, “It will truly be a dream come true to compete on the very courts where I first learned and fell in love with the game.” She was joined in the tournament by SCH Academy junior Allie Stoddard, who was thrilled to make her Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour debut after earning one of two wildcard spots to play in the first round. Stoddard was fresh off a major win in Houston at the Texas Junior Championship Tour event, placing her #4 nationally in the Girls Under 17 category.
Fiechter and Clyne both had a challenging route to the final, and it seemed scripted to see them both compete for the fourth event in succession, this time for a PSA title. The early exchanges were a sign of things to come with incredibly long rallies, both showing elite levels of athleticism and neither wanting to give an inch. It was Fiechter who took the first game in front of a packed crowd on PCC’s show court. Clyne drew level and silenced the home crowd that was desperate to see one of their own win on her home court.
The third game was neck and neck until seven-all when Fiechter pulled away with four quick points and she didn’t look back from there. Fiechter remained on the offensive, using the backhand side to contain her opponent and capitalizing on any loose balls. Clyne had won two of the previous three matchups between the two and certainly didn’t lack belief in her ability to make a comeback, however after Clyne saved three match balls, Fiechter hit a great backhand volley-kill and claimed the title in four games and fifty-five minutes, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8.
SCH Head of School Dr. Delvin Dinkins helped present the trophy to Fiechter along with director of squash at PCC Rich Wade. He remarked, “For several days I’ve been witnessing what real squash looks like—not the scrappy kind that I play. And to see pros like Olivia play, it's just so elegant. It's like they're ice skating, ice dancing, and something I could never imagine doing myself without many more hours under my belt. What excellence looks like at this level is really tremendous. I hope that our students here learned that as well. So it's been a pleasure for us to be sponsors of this event. I'm really proud that we were able to witness such a high level of play, and I was so heartened to see so many people out here supporting the event…. The Classic has been a great opportunity to showcase all that is great about squash, all that is great about this club, and all that is great about our SCH community.”
The Philadelphia Cricket Club was approached to host the tournament, a major PSA event, after a tournament scheduled to take place in Egypt ran into difficulties. Given the strong squash community within Chestnut Hill, and the rich tradition between the Philadelphia Cricket Club and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, the pair jumped in to host 24 of the world’s best female athletes.
Main Image: Pierre Bastien, Emcee and PCC Member, SCH Head of School Dr. Delvin Dinkins, and director of squash at the Philadelphia Cricket Club Rich Wade (far right) congratulate Olivia Fiechter after her impressive win in the inaugural 2023 Chestnut Hill Classic. The tournament took place over the course of five days at the Philadelphia Cricket Club and attracted the top female squash players from around the world.