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SD Squash Takes A Step Forward

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Aired 2/16/11

A team of low-income girls from San Diego stepped into the lion's den of junior squash and came out with a ranking of 11th in the country.

— If there’s a lion’s den for junior squash it’s the U.S. High School Championships that are held at Yale University. A team of low-income San Diego girls stepped into that den last weekend and came out with a 2-2 record, lots of respect and a higher ranking.

Squash coach Renato Paiva helps Access Youth Academy team members Ana Rodriguez and Eric Huynh polish their game, February 7, 2011.
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Above: Squash coach Renato Paiva helps Access Youth Academy team members Ana Rodriguez and Eric Huynh polish their game, February 7, 2011.

I told folks about Access Youth Academy in a story last week as they were preparing for the championships. Injuries prevented the boys from qualifying but the girls made the cut. In fact, they competed in Division One against a bunch of East-Coast prep schools with names like Greenwich Academy and Deerfield Academy.

Access Youth Academy (AYA) lost its first round to Lawrenceville School but then won two consolation matches, losing only once more to Episcopal Academy. Lots of “academies” in this tournament draw.

Squash coach and executive director of AYA Renato Paiva said he was very pleased with the results. He said his team’s national ranking rose from 13th to 11th.

Access Youth Academy is part of a national movement, lead by the National Urban Squash and Education Association, that seeks to bring the preppy racket sport of squash to the inner city. AYA recruits its players from UCSD’s Preuss School, which admits only students from low-income families whose parents didn’t attend college.

This San Diego squash team has been operating for four years and it plans to keep it up. Next year, AYA hopes to go back to the high school championships with a girls and a boys team.

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