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Courting Your Obsession: A Squash Odyssey

By Greg Hutner Created: June 24, 2011 Last Updated: June 24, 2011
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SQUASH ACTION: Nick Matthew (white shirt) of England and Gregory Gaultier (orange shirt) of France do battle on the squash court in their semi-final match at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic, London, England on March 24, 2011. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

SQUASH ACTION: Nick Matthew (white shirt) of England and Gregory Gaultier (orange shirt) of France do battle on the squash court in their semi-final match at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic, London, England on March 24, 2011. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

All you have to do is make the ball bounce twice.

You’re in this bizarre room with red lines painted horizontally and diagonally on the walls and floors. In one hand you hold your novice model $100 squash stick that looks like a tennis racquet on a Jenny Craig diet. In your other hand you hold a tiny rubber ball that looks like it was made from the tires off your old Taurus.

You’ve played hockey, soccer and baseball and your buddies insist that you’d make an awesome squash player. You’ve taken your two introductory lessons and a month’s worth of beginner clinics, and the club pro has somehow charmed you into the idea of playing house league on Wednesday nights.

Your serve has been dead on, the ball dropping into the corner over your opponent’s head and scoring you points whenever you please. When he does get your serve back you’re moving right up in the court to tap the ball to the open side before he can recover back to the precious T position in the middle of the court. 11–7 for you, and you win the match 3–1. You’re unstoppable. You’ve taken the beginner house-league title. You love squash!

GOING TO THE WALL: Peter Barker (black shirt) of England plays a shot against James Willstrop (white shirt) of England during the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

GOING TO THE WALL: Peter Barker (black shirt) of England plays a shot against James Willstrop (white shirt) of England during the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

You change into your second t-shirt of the match and chug down the last of your water. You’re down 2–1. It’s finals night but you’re playing for seventh place in your division. You’ve lost your last two matches and after dominating the T and making all of your drop shots in the first game, you’ve been winded and can’t stay as patient as you want to be.

Nick Matthew of England stretches for the ball against Gregory Gaultier of France in their semi final match at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Nick Matthew of England stretches for the ball against Gregory Gaultier of France in their semi final match at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Markus, your opponent, has stopped making errors and you’re not getting any free points. Work and family have been getting in the way. You’re not playing as much as you want to. You’re not as fit as you want to be. You’re stuck on Wednesdays. You want to be playing in the Monday advanced house league. You need to take lessons again. You need to enjoy the game again.

Simon, the captain of the Men’s C team has asked you to sub in for the squad on Thursday. You were dominating at Men’s D and you went undefeated at Level 4 on Monday nights. All that biking you did over the summer is paying dividends.

The lessons working on your straight length and pinning your opponent behind you rather than just trying to win the points quickly and cheaply are taking shape in your matches. You’re structuring your points now and identifying your opponents’ weaknesses. People are saying you’re a smart player with a solid understanding of the game.

You’re only getting better. You feel incredible after matches. You analyze them. Your shots can be tighter. You can volley more. More pressure on your opponent. More variety in your game. You are obsessed.





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