Posts Tagged Baset Chaudhry

Baset Chaudhry Plays Gustav Detter In Exhibition Squash Match

Gustav Detter (left), Ira and Baset Chaudhry before the match

Over three days this past weekend (Fri/Sat/Sun), I watched 17 hours of college squash at the national tournament in Princeton. You would think I’d be saturated, blurry-eyed and ready to take a rest…NOPE. Yesterday I drove to the squash courts at the Millbrook School in New York State and watched an incredible exhibition match between Baset Ashfaq Chaudhry and Gustav Detter.

Both were top players at Trinity College, where I followed their contests for three and four years. Baset was the #1 college player in the country. Gustav was #1 in Sweden, was 4-time All American, and is now the #1 amateur player in the U.S. This match promised to be sensational.

And it was. The level of play was way beyond almost all of the games we had just seen at the Nationals. Gustav is working out on the courts 3-4 times a week. Baset is not quite as fit, but still a powerful and amazing competitor. It took five games to determine the winner, so you know it was close. But I was in awe of what I saw. Gorgeous, rough, athletic, nimble. Astonishing gets and terrifyingly hard hits. Some reports from the old days suggested that no one hit the ball as hard as Baset. And few were as quick and anticipatory at Gustav.

Of course there have been plenty of great college players over the years, and I have only seen a few of them in action. But after four or five years of watching top college squash, I have some appreciation for really outstanding play. And I feel privileged to have watched today’s match between two squash stars and giants.

I also want to mention that during all the matches I saw at Princeton, some were dull, uninspired, lacked subtlety, nuance and finesse. Still great competitors, with determination and heart. But true brilliance in sport really stands out. At the Friday session, we watched a Trinity player decimate his opponent with cross court backhands and gentle drop shots that were positively poetic. It was lyrical to watch such skill, craft and beauty. The game soared toward its potential. It was divine.

The next day, this same player was quickly beaten by a different competitor who raised the bar even higher. We were mesmerized and dumbfounded. How could a level of play so high the night before now appear so much lower? But it did. And the game was magical, grander, subtler, even noble. OK OK, I am getting a little carried away with superlatives. But it was startling to watch…and then be uplifted even more by today’s match.

Just goes to show you that you never know when someone will come along who can do it better, more skillfully, deftly, winningly. The memory of these three matches were among the many highlights of the weekend. I feel so fortunate to have witnessed such exalted athletic prowess, been part of the crowds, and enjoyed the passion of watching thrilling sport.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Squash Spree With Champion Players

Just had an exhilarating squash fest—attended matches three out of four days, and hit balls three sessions for an hour each, once with a former champion professional player and top coach. Also played some tough singles tennis in the mix as well.

Trinity wins its 11th national squash team title-2/09

Trinity wins its 11th national squash team title-2/09

Two of the viewing contests were at a New England Small College teams three-day conference, which was won by both the men’s and women’s Trinity College teams. The men’s side is astonishing, having won the national championship 11 years in a row and their last 220 consecutive matches…a record for all sports in the world. The women’s team is number two in the country, rising steadily each year from fifth place in 2007.

Trinity’s men’s team has many super-talented players. Included among them are three of the top 10 players in the country and five of the top 20. At the head of the list is Baset Chaudhry, who has earned the nation’s first place individual position three years in a row. He is soft-spoken and gentle off the court, but a formidable opponent whose win-loss career record at Trinity is 52-2.

Baset Chaudhry after winning the national squash singles title—2/09

Baset Chaudhry after winning the national squash singles title—2/09


I also witnessed a very exciting challenge match within the Trinity women’s team. The number three-ranked player, Nour Bahgat, took five games to beat the number two player, Nayelly Hernandez, and squeaked out a game-five win at 13-11 (it takes 11 to win, but it has to be by two points). In 2009 Nour was the top college women’s squash player. Injuries kept her lower on the ladder this year, so now that she is well enough to play, she is clawing her way back up to the top.
Nour Bahgat is fighting to regain the #1 spot in women's singles

Nour Bahgat is fighting to regain the #1 spot in women's singles


Though down 0-5 in the first game and 6-10 in the second, she fought fiercely to win both. Nayelly came back in the next two games to force a very tight fifth game. The whole match seemed filled with some pushing and body contact, yelling and frustration. But the drive to win was almost visible for both players. I admire so much how athletes who are behind have the will and determination to not give up and make extraordinary efforts to overcome the momentum against them…and then they win.

The Trinity men’s coach, Paul Assaiante, was the referee, and one of his pointers to the women afterward was that the contest was a good learning lesson. They both received more experience in how rough a match can be when they compete against other school’s players.

My three, squash-hitting sessions were capped off with hard drills by Nour’s father, Mohsen, who had trained her since age five, competed in international tournaments as a youth and won the Egyptian Masters (over 40-years) tournaments each year from 2005 to 2009. He is 57 and has a long history of training, coaching teams, consulting and refereeing. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,