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highlight5 seeds

Highlight5 seeds

El-Gawarhy (left) and Davies

On the first day of competition at the 2019 College Squash Association (CSA) Individual National Championships, the women’s top division, the Ramsay Division, played mostly to seed while the men’s Pool Division – the top draw – saw a few attention-grabbing upsets.

The first Pool Division match of the day turned out to be a sign of things to come when the lowest seed in the draw – 16-seed Sam Scherl of Harvard – jumped out to a 2-0 lead over top seed Ashley Davies of Rochester. Davies clawed his way back into that match, ultimately outlasting Scherl for the victory, but the energy expended to come back would take its toll on Davies in his quarterfinal match against St. Lawrence’s 9-seed Mohamed El-Gawarhy. In a highly charged match that went back and forth, it was El-Gawarhy who was better able to control his emotions and to find the winning formula to hand Davies his first loss of the season. Meeting El-Gawarhy in Saturday’s semifinal is University of Pennsylvania’s fourth seed Andrew Douglas, who overcame a long delay due to a bleeding injury to dispatch No. 5 Kush Kumar of Trinity in the quarterfinal.

No. 2 seed Victor Crouin, the freshman from Harvard, cruised to the semifinal in the bottom half of the draw, surrendering only 22 points total over his first two matches. Yale’s Spencer Lovejoy, the sixth seed, is the fourth semifinalist and will face off with Crouin in a classic Harvard-Yale match-up. Lovejoy took down Trinity’s Thoboki Mohohlo in the first round, and then shocked the viewing crowd with a masterful five-game victory over Columbia’s No. 3 seed, Velavan Senthilkumar. In a rematch of Senthilkumar’s 3-0 stroll over Lovejoy during the regular season, the Yale Bulldog played consistent squash and hit the winning shots when it mattered to come back from his 2-1 deficit.

Women’s top seed Sabrina Sobhy (right) of Harvard overcame Trinity’s Min Jie Teh (left) to clinch a semifinal berth in the 2019 CSA Individual National Championships (photo credit: Michael T. Bello)

The Arab arts organization in Philadelphia, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, is hosting its first Arab Community Day in Penn Treaty Park on Saturday, hoping newer immigrants will come for free Arab food and stay for civic guidance. The family-friendly afternoon event will feature food, music, and crafts, as well as onsite COVID vaccinations by the Philadelphia Health Department. Representatives from the School District, the Department of Labor, and immigrant support agencies will offer information and advice.

We started the process of variety improvement by purchasing seed of Zinnia ‘Thumbelina’ from many different suppliers and growing them out in our trial gardens. Most of the plants in these trials were very tall for a dwarf Zinnia. After deciding which supplier’s seed was closest to the correct height and flower type, we grew more plants for several years in our isolation tents. Each year, we rogued out plants that were over 12 inches in height, plants with incorrect flower types, and plants with an over-abundant color. Our aim was to reduce the height to a more appropriate level, make the flower types more consistent, and achieve a better balance of colors in the mix.

In a previous blog, we talked about open pollinated varieties and how important it is to maintain the plant and flower traits to keep the variety true to type. For this reason, we developed our Variety Improvement (VI) Program. Previously we highlighted our Zinnia ‘Sombrero’ which has been improved through our VI program. Today we discuss the variety improvement process for our Zinnia ‘Thumbelina’. This variety was developed by Bodger Seeds Ltd. (now defunct) and was an All American Selections winner in 1963. An old Bodger catalog describes it as a dwarf Zinnia having button-like, fully double to semi-double flowers with flat petals. The mix of colors includes pink, red, white, yellow, orange and scarlet.

Today, our Zinnia ‘Thumbelina’ is a dwarf variety with a better color balance and more true flower types. However, we plan to continue variety improvement work on it to make it more dwarf and improve the balance of colors in the mix. This VI program takes a great deal of time and cost on our part, but we feel committed to the program which will help to preserve some of the hundreds of older flower varieties that have been developed over the past decades by dedicated and talented plant breeders.