St. Anne's-Belfield senior Stewart Staunton only started playing squash a few years ago, but he's already the top ranked junior player in Virginia.
"Seeing him progress as quickly as he has, I've never seen anything like it," says STAB squash coach Grant White.
Staunton played tennis most of his life, it didn't take long for him to rise to the top in his new sport. Staunton went 15-0 in school matches this year.
"I think it partly was the tennis background, and just hard work ethic when I'm on the court, I guess," he says.
Staunton is also a strong student, whose GPA has improved each year in high school, and he's earned a spot on the Dean's list for the past three years. White says that intelligence is part of the reason Staunton has found success at sqaush.
"I think it has to do with his mental capacity, his ability to approach the court and the sport, and understand it."
Staunton also plays lacrosse for the Saints, but says he likes the control he has in squash.
"I like the clearness of squash," he said. "Either you're up there with the top guys or you're really, your game's not there yet. You can kind of tell by hitting yourself, by comparing yourself to other players up north where you stand."
Staunton has had the chance to compare himself with players at the college level, because he practices with the UVa team occasionally.
"It's helped a lot," he said. "I've played with their top guys and done pretty well against them. They've pushed me, I've pushed them, so I think we've worked together."
"Throwing him into the mix as a junior with all these college players was definitely, I guess a challenge for him at first," says UVa sophomore squash player Matt Brown. "But he's picked his game up, and now he's playing competitively with the top two players on the team."
White is also an assistant coach for the Cavaliers squash team, and says he's enjoyed coaching Staunton and competing with him, too.
"It's been exciting and it's been fun, and it's been challenging too because now he beats me just as much as I beat him. So we've got a great rivalry and a great coaching relationship too."
That relationship will continue beyond STAB. Staunton is headed to UVa next year, where he'll play on the squash team.
"He's a really mature kid," said Brown. "Once he's been thrown into the mix and getting to know the players on the team, I think he's already established a great relationship with the team. We all love him, and I'm really excited to see him at UVa next year."
Staunton says the chance to play at Virginia and the academic opportunities helped him choose UVa.
"Obviously it's a great school," says Staunton. "I look forward to the chance to maybe get into McIntire, as I'm interested in business, so the combination of those two and the people around I think really made it whole."
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