After confirming at midnight that we were on for hitting, the Trinity squash player called after nine in the morning to say that he was sick. Damn. I had been really looking forward to hitting with a top athlete. But within half an hour, he had found a replacement—Supreet, another varsity player. So my friend and I headed off for a major challenge: could we keep up and rally for long?

On court we were toyed with, like the cat with a drunken mouse. Within one game, I was breathing hard from being run all over the court. But I earned two points. My friend then took over and was also easily defeated…but he lasted two games. Then we continued to alternate two games at a time.

It was a grueling workout in temperatures of 80+ degrees. It was something of a clinic with pointers at game’s end on how to improve: hold your racquet this way for a certain shot, flick your wrist instead of pushing your arm, take a long step to save energy and return to the center—the “T”—rather than moving so close to the front wall. Stop “panicking” when you are not sure how to hit a ball off the side wall.

Of course Supreet was not playing as well as he can—he was merely doing his best to hit easy shots we could return. Except the easy shots went from back court smashes to front court dinks, from the left side to the right. I was whupped and drained. And I thought I was in good shape!

Nevertheless, I now have to apply what he was suggesting; teach the body to do what the mind is instructing without getting caught up at all in the confusion from reacting and thinking simultaneously. A major hurdle in any physical activity.

After an hour and a quarter, we were out of time. It had been exhilarating to play a game with such a high-level athlete. I now have to rest and make it to the gym two more times before Thursday to reach my goal of eight days a month. Making muscles at the same time as one is playing sports is very taxing. But I am determined.

Early in our session, Supreet reminded me that he had coached my daughter at a summer squash camp before her senior year. Being given suggestions from an expert on the best way to play parts of a game is generally a very efficient way to improve. It requires practice, and speeds up the learning process. The Coach sees technical flaws the student can’t notice. The Expert knows strategies that the beginner hasn’t yet thought of. When I watched the pro’s at the tournament last week, after my two previous lessons, I was aware of motions, places to stand, and shoulder positions that I didn’t even think to pay attention to during three years of spectatoring only. Guidance can be so beneficial.