Posts Tagged new tennis approach

Yale Defeats Trinity In Men’s Squash, Ending 13-Year Winning Streak

Trinity fans tense up as their team heads toward defeat

Well it’s probably my fault that while I was away skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, I was not at Yale cheering as usual at a tough squash contest between the Yale Bulldogs and my favorite team, the Trinity Bantams. So Trinity lost! As you may recall, I have been a groupie for the team for 4-5 years now, ever since my daughter played squash in high school, and her coach told me to watch the best college team in the country in Hartford, only an hour away. My wife and I have been going to many of the away games as well, supporting the team members, whom we met and liked, and yelling as loudly as anybody possibly could. I have written about some of these victories in the past. Amazingly the match once again came down to the ninth and last contest and the fifth and last game. Agonizing. In spite of the pain of defeat, I wish I had been there for the excitement and tension.

Trinity's Johan Detter hears advice prior to the final match

Yale fans rejoice...as they should for such an historic win

A friend told me about Trinity’s loss after our tennis match. He was very considerate to wait until after the tennis game to give me the bad news…and he was an opponent! Of course I was stunned. I was out of it too, given all the travel and attempts to survive the dangers of skiing after a year-long absence from the slopes.

I feel badly for the team and coach, whom I have known for years as well. Coach Paul Assiante has a great book about his success you might want to read, called Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear. It’s a very exciting insight into the team, a close national match at Princeton, and how to motivate people to perform at their best.

Now here is the Hartford Courant’s story by Jeff Nowak about the inevitable day that Paul always said would come. Photos are by Bettina Hansen. If you want more detail about this historic match and its aftermath, here is a lengthy New York Times article.

Trinity's coach (rt) gives congratulatory hugs to Yale's coach Dave Talbott as Yale team members celebrate their victory

All things must end, or at least that’s the adage John Roberts and the Yale Bulldogs squash team announced to the world Wednesday night, January 18th, as they put to bed the longest winning streak in varsity intercollegiate sports history.

Trinity had won 252 consecutive matches, including 13 national championships, until Roberts’ dominant victory over Johan Detter in the fifth set of the final match of the day gave the bulldogs the 5-4 win at Brady Squash Center at Yale.

“Going into today I knew I was going to be on last, so I was hoping I was going to have a chance to win it for us,” said Roberts. “In the fifth you realized it was just a grind. Luckily, I got a good start and I was able to close it out.”

Trinity head coach Paul Assaiante said his team is still getting better, and having the streak over isn’t as much of a relief as he expected it to be. “Losing sucks, not a relief,” said Assaiante. “This isn’t fun, I hate losing, but this is only going to make us stronger.” Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Misunderstand a Squash Swing and Learn Another Life Lesson

After two hours of tennis, I raced over to my second squash lesson. I wanted to learn how to return serves off the wall with my backhand. The Coach wanted to check up first on my forehand and backhand strokes. It turned out my backhand was incorrect. I had misunderstood his earlier instructions. Then we went to the service returns. It turned out that what I had been doing at my friend’s court was completely wrong! So I had to learn where to stand, the angle of my racquet, how to swing the racquet, where to end up.

Then I was shown where to stand near the “T.” Where to aim the ball on the serve. When to hit off the back wall instead of intercepting the ball before it landed. It was unbelievable. I was informed I should never come so close to the wall that I crash into it when chasing the ball. Etc Etc. So much that I had been doing wrong!

The main lesson in squash, any sport and in life, is that people with more experience can teach you things you don’t know and that you can’t seem to figure out on your own. Certainly not always right on the spot. Last week I must have plain missed 70% of the squash serves off the wall that came to my backhand. Yesterday I hit more than 70% of them. Yet the other day I kept doing what I was doing exactly the same dumb way. I couldn’t automatically adjust. Partly because I was doing what I thought was the correct swing and preparation. But it wasn’t. Totally wrong.

Maybe after more court time, I would be confident enough to change what I was doing right away if it wasn’t working. But this early in my playing career—20-30 times total—I wasn’t able to do that. Not sure why it is so difficult to adjust. But it was, especially in the middle of a game as the extreme novice player.

When it comes to good health, athletics and fitness, there are so many contradictory viewpoints. Eat this, don’t eat that. Six reps, no 12 reps. Stand this way, no that way. We have to listen, make a choice, practice or implement accordingly, and wait or hope for results. Very demanding, complicated, frustrating. But it is clear that if we can be patient and stick to one program of choices at a time, then something might work out as we watch things evolve. Read the rest of this entry »

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