What is your background in squash?
I started playing squash at the age of 11. At the time I was living in Zimbabwe and my father was headmaster of a private school in Harare. The school had 4 very old squash courts, the ones where you still had to put coins into the timer to get light on court. After watching my father play his friend one day my brother and I decided to give it a try, I fell in love with the game immediately and had some very big battles with my brother on court. I would go down and hit the ball on court even if I didn’t have any coins to put into the timer and so I would often practice in the dark.
In 2004 after political problems forced us to leave the country we decided to move as a family to England where I finished my schooling and got a degree in criminology from the university of Loughborough. I played squash for Loughborough 1st team and during the university holidays I would go to Jesse Engelbrechts squash academy in Basingstoke. Jesse was a real role model of mine from a young age as he went to the same school as me in Zimbabwe and I wanted to become a professional squash player like him. As small as the world is Jesse had also moved to England and was competing on the pro tour still and I was able to get coaching from him on an individual basis. After university I decided to go full time in squash and give it everything I had at Jesses academy.
I moved up the ranks starting from the bottom in 2012. I reached my highest world ranking of 126 in the world in 2018 and I am currently 140 still in the world. I was lucky enough to train with Robbie Temple at his academy for a couple of years in 2016/17 and got to get on court with the likes of Tom Richards, Joe Lee, Charles Sharpes, Adrian Waller and Marwan El Shorbagy once. I got to learn so much from different coaches in England and recently with my coach Mike Johnson who has coached the likes of Rodney Martin, Sarah Fitzgerald and Anthony Ricketts to name a few.
What do you find most rewarding about being a squash player and coach?
It is with this knowledge that I have acquired from all of these great coaches and players that I would love to share with any aspiring squash player of any age to help you along with your journey! I find the most rewarding thing about being a squash coach is watching players’ skill level and confidence grow the more you coach them day by day as well as the friendships they make on and off court with other players. I also love the fact that i am still learning whilst I’m coaching and it really makes me think of my own game in more detail.
What are the main benefits of playing squash?
The main benefits of playing squash are your fitness level will no doubt increase. Squash is an incredibly demanding game physically and requires a good fitness level to be able to maintain rallies in a match. There is a saying you ‘ don’t get fit to play squash, you play Squash to get fit.’ Squash is one of the biggest calorie burners after a 30 minute match. It was voted as the number one healthiest sports in Forbes magazine. As Squash requires many lunges around the court your muscle tone in your legs and glutes will increase as well as your Lat and shoulder muscles from striking the ball.
How important is sport in everyday life?
Sport activity in everyday life for me is very important as it is healthy for your body and mind. By doing any sport at a good intensity you will be burning calories, getting your cardio and base fitness levels up, giving your muscles an opportunity to increase in size or definition and just generally sweating out toxins etc in your body. By exercising everyday you will also release endorphins which will make you feel better and happier afterwards thus improving your mental well-being as well as your confidence in everyday life.
How can people get into sports such as Squash?
People can get into squash by doing what I did when I started and that is- just giving it a try. Obviously first you will have to find a squash club or squash court in your local area.These clubs may offer beginner programs for you to give squash a try. If you can’t find one then you could also join a Facebook group in which people who play squash may be able to guide you to some courts. If you have any friends that play squash you could also ask them if they would like to show you how to play one day and see how you like it. Squash is not for everyone as it’s a very demanding game but the beauty of squash is that no matter what age you start playing you can improve in different areas of the game.
What are your three tips for people getting into squash?
My three tips of someone new getting into squash are:
1 – Have Fun- don’t over exert yourself when you are first starting out in the game- you will find it frustrating at times because you are still learning but the main thing is to keep having fun because when you get down on yourself that is when the enjoyment of the game diminishes.
2 – Trust the process-Becoming a great squash player doesn’t happen overnight. When you are first starting out in the game whatever process you are doing to improve your game – Trust in it and believe in it – the more you trust your process the better squash player you will become.
3 – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- we all make mistakes in life – no one is perfect – you will find that you will make many mistakes in your training/matches however it is all part of the process of becoming a better player as long as you learn from those mistakes and ask yourself the question ‘How can I improve on those mistakes’. By doing this you will know what to work on next time in your game and you will become a better player in the long run.
What do you see for the future of squash?
I think the future of squash is very bright. We are still yet to be included in the Olympic Games but I am optimistic that we will eventually get into the Olympics which will boost squash even more by putting it in the spotlight. However we have many other exciting things happening in the squash world currently- interactive squash has been revolutionary in designing an interactive front wall with many different features for young kids starting the game to adults to seasoned pros all making use of their creativity. Urban squash programs in the US are increasing the popularity of squash for underprivileged kids to be able to play squash and train in order to make a better life for themselves by getting scholarships into top universities and jobs in squash clubs around the United States. In South Africa my country of birth , there are many great coaches who are doing the same thing and getting poor children off the streets and onto the squash court for example Egoli squash is a great program currently doing this in South Africa.
For me I think Squash is looking bright in the future and I hope that technology keeps increasing and enhancing this fantastic sport in years to come!