From EFSA to New Zealand this summer — one Fallser’s rise in the ranks of this 140-year-old sport with deep roots in NW Philadelphia. 

Congratulations, Elisabeth Ross! This Penn Charter sophomore has been selected to play for the USA at the 2017 Junior World Championships in Tauranga, New Zealand this summer.

All-American in 2016, she won the National title last month at Harvard and is now ranked the #1 Girls Under 17 player in the United States — and soon, quite possibly, the world. After discovering her swing in little league at McDevitt, she’s now putting Philly back on the map as this kinetic sport makes a modern comeback.

When English wool weavers immigrated here to work in the textile mills of NW Philadelphia, they brought their games with them: cricket and “squash racquets,” a new game where players volleyed balls off a wall instead of over a net as in tennis. Germantown Cricket Club opened in 1854, attracting many national squash champions as the sport grew in popularity.

Elisabeth knows GCC’s courts well — she’s been a lifelong member, and a participant in their world-class squash program. Over 20 other national champions started here, with dozens more players graduating to squash teams at Penn, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and other elite universities as the game experiences a resurgence.

Elisabeth Ross runs down a ball in the front corner at GCC (Photo by Tom Utescher)

You could say Elisabeth was born into sports — dad Billy Ross tells us her mom, Maggie Lockwood, played tennis while pregnant, and by age 6 Elisabeth was showing interest and aptitude on the court. When she crossed over to baseball at EFSA, she was soon one of the best players in the program — including boys.  “That’s when we knew we had a real athlete on our hands,” Billy said.

She’s as homegrown a champion as you can get, too. Her first squash coach, Adam Hamill, was an East Fallser from Calumet Street, and the director of GCC’s squash program at the time, Doug Whittaker, lived on Cresswell. Her current coach, Kim Palterman, lives on Ridge and accompanied the family to Harvard when Elisabeth won the national title.

This July, Elisabeth’s representing for East Falls and bringing Philadelphia back to the world stage for squash, halfway around the globe.

Watch online and cheer on our local sports legend-in-the-making! She probably won’t be able to hear us from Billy Murphy’s, but you never know. Maybe if she knows we’re all tuned in, she’ll flash us a “29” from down under.