PDS soph finds the right racquet

Buchsbaum playing No. 1 for talented Panthers

By: Bob Nuse
   Eventually, Ethan Buchsbaum realized one racquet sport was better than two.
   "I started with the Junior Squash program at Princeton University a few years ago," said the Princeton Day School sophomore. "I also played tennis all the way through middle school, but once I got to high school and the competition level started to go up, I realized that squash was the better sport for me.
   "I decided I’d rather be good at one of the sports than just average in both. The last year I’ve been focused more on squash and I just play tennis recreationally."
   This winter, Buchsbaum has been holding down the No. 1 spot in the lineup for the Panthers, going 5-3 at the most difficult position. His play has helped the Panthers get off to a 5-3 start, which includes a 6-1 in over Delbarton on Friday.
   "Ethan is quick and he has a good mind for the sport," said PDS coach Dede Webster, whose team is scheduled to play at Shipley today. "He’s a lefty and a real good player who has the strategy figured out. He started playing when he was 11 and he’s one of our more experienced players. He’s also a good tennis player and he has been able to separate the two. He works hard and he goes to a lot of competitions and camps."
   For the past year, Buchsbaum has dedicated himself to getting better at squash and it has shown in his play. As the Panthers’ No. 1 player, he has taken on some of the top players in the high school ranks. In addition, the Princeton resident also plays against some tough competition outside of school.
   "The competition is tough sometimes," said Buchsbaum, who also plays soccer at PDS. "When we played Pingry, their top player is the No. 2 player in the country and it’s fun to get an opportunity to play against a player like that. It’s tough because he’s a year older than I am and more experienced, but it’s a nice challenge.
   "This spring I might do the after school weight program and play squash. I’m in a league at Dillon Gym and that goes on for a while. It’s an adult league and I get to play against some very good competition. Playing against adults helps a lot for when I play against junior players."
   Buchsbaum’s play at the top of the lineup has helped the Panthers get off to one of their best starts in years. In fact, with a relatively young lineup, the PDS could be building into something quite special.
   "The team is doing well," Webster said. "We’ve beaten teams this year that we have not been able to beat in the past, like Delbarton. And we’ve been close with Pingry and Blair. This year we’re stronger than we’ve ever been."
   "We have a young team, mostly sophomores," Buchsbaum added. "We’ve all played together a while and I think in a couple of years we’ll be very strong. We’ll all have been playing for six or seven years. A lot of the players are good. We also have some beginners and they’re getting better and better."
   As for himself, Buchsbaum is glad he made the decision to concentrate on squash. While both are racket sports, that is where the similarity ends. So the decision to concentrate on one has helped his overall play.
   "The grip and the balls are different and so is pretty much everything else," Buchsbaum said. "It was getting hard to switch back and forth. Now that I’m focused on squash, I’ll start to play all year-round.
   "I like squash more because it doesn’t rely on size and strength as much as tennis. You can’t get away with having one good shot like a big serve. One of my main goals is to play in college."
   At the rate Buchsbaum is improving, that’s a goal that certainly seems within reach.