Charlottesville, VA – Each season the Virginia men’s squash team presents two awards: Team MVP and Most Improved Player. This year’s recipient of Most Improved honors is first year Harrison Kapp, who played at the #8 position for the Cavaliers. Gib Staunton, who serves as the academic advisor to both the men’s and women’s teams, presented the award to Harrison along with a brief speech at the end-of-season Award Banquet. The text below is a reprint of the remarks, with minor revisions.
Our first runner up for Most Improved Player is James Dudzik. James put together an 8-5 record in his sophomore — second-year — season for a 62% win-loss ratio. The match that, for us, truly demonstrated how far James has come this season, was his 3-2 win against Williams in the semi finals of Team Nationals. In a crucial fifth-game situation, James has in the past resorted to a hit-harder-run-faster mentality. But on this occasion, in arguably the biggest match of our season, he showed a newly found maturity and composure and played a thoughtful, steady game plan built around his superior skill and technique – and executed it perfectly take the win and help lift us to a win.
The much-decorated Henry Woodworth features yet again as our other runner up for Most Improved. Henry’s nomination for this award says so much about his effort and his execution this year. As you all will remember, we’re talking about the two-time MVP here, too. What really impressed us all as coaches this year was Henry’s newfound patience and ability to fall back on a plan B. We all know how lethal Henry is when his shooting is on. This year, one need look no further than both his battles with Middlebury to see where Henry was able to win with patience, guts and determination. And that’s a huge evolution.
Our 2017 Most Improved Player, Harrison Kapp, was a massive presence on the court for us. You all know that from his nomination as MVP. And, like his teammates and fellow nominees, James and Henry, Harrison really showed tremendous improvement in the second half of the season and during our run at Nationals. Take a side-by-side of what were likely Harrison’s best two wins: against Navy in the first major match of the season and against in Williams in the penultimate. How he won these two matches is simply night and day: against Navy, he took more dives than a Navy sub as he scrapped valiantly and ran probably 50% more than his opponent to earn the win on hustle. Compare that to his win against Williams, a match in which he out-thought and out-played his opponent,. Harrison’s ball movement in that particular match was as good as any player’s on our team, and he was 100% in control of the match. It was incredible to see that sort of technical and tactical improvement over one season. And for this reason, Harrison deserves the 2016-2017 Most Improved Award. Congratulations Harrison!