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2023-20204 Season Recap

This 2023/2024 season truly feels like it was a season of two halves. 



Fall 2023


Fall of 2023 was a very weird experience. After an excellent summer’s training, I felt fit, and confident that I was playing a good level in training. Then, I would get into matches and turn into a deer in the headlights. So much so, I lost every match. Yes, read that again. I lost every single PSA match in the fall of 2023. 


Granted, I mostly played big tournaments, ending with a small tournament in December which I wanted to do well in. Unfortunately, I didn’t- I lost and my confidence was at an all time low. 


The only bit of solace was that I did have a good run of performances at the Pan Am Games, and that showed me that my issue was predominantly mental, rather than technical or tactical. Of course, the tactical and mental are linked, and I felt as though I was mentally blocked from playing the way I was capable of. 


I sought the help of a few new coaches- both for squash and the mental side. I ended up sticking with Graeme Williams- our former National coach- to work on the mental side. He was our coach at the Pan Ams, and he helped me to extract some good performances during that period. Towards the end of the year I also began working with Amr Khalifa, the former Egyptian junior national coach. 


Throughout this time, I was also doing a fair bit of commentating for SquashTV. I had done some MCing the season prior, but not much commentating- and certainly not for larger events. This all began at the beginning of the season, where I was asked to be the 4th commentator for the Qatar Classic. I then did a couple days of Houston Open, US Open, Grasshopper in Zurich, and Hong Kong. Having commentating to turn to was a positive outlet which forced me to bounce back quicker from the losses. Especially after my loss in Qatar, I was extremely down, but commentating forced me to snap out of the funk and return to squash in a positive manner. It also gave me greater purpose, gave me a different perspective, and introduced me to new people. 


Winter/Spring 2024


Coming into January, I had a lot of big tournaments coming up, starting with Florida Gold and then ToC. I drew Mariam Metwally in the first round of Florida. I had already played her twice that season- having lost convincingly both times. The prior encounter was just a few weeks before in Hong Kong, where I had an absolute disaster and couldn’t even get into the match. It truly felt like a nightmare. 


There’s something about the new year that makes you feel like you’re making a fresh start. It helps you feel as though you are able to turn over a new leaf- even if your previous match was only a mere couple of weeks ago. 


I took full advantage of this and did some focused training over Christmas- where I worked on ghosting, played some matches, and did some running. They weren’t super long sessions or multiple sessions per day, but each was focused and purposeful. The ghosting helped massively as it built up my fitness and confidence in my movement. Part of the reason I did so much ghosting was because I pretty much only had Jaymie to play. If I had had other people to play other than Jaymie, I may not have done the ghosting, but adding that into our sessions really helped. 


Anyway- going back to the match vs Mariam in Florida. I spoke with both Graeme and Amr about how to approach the match. Graeme was particularly helpful in pointing out that this match couldn’t possibly go worse than the last time, so if I improved upon this performance it was good. For instance, if I had a close 3 games, that would be better. If I lost in 4 or 5 that would be an improvement. We then discussed what I could do to ensure I was giving the best chance of having a better performance. We came up with: make myself tough to beat, attack her (don’t sit back & extend the rallies waiting to get picked off), and not worry about the score. You can read the whole match recap here, spoiler alert: I came through and won in 5! It was a bit up and down but I made it through and got the W! It was my first win of the season, and of the year! 


It was a massive realization that it wasn’t just the work that I’d put in over the course of the past few months which had led to this result, but the mindset shift. I ended up having a few more good performances, including my first ever Platinum win, before I dipped down slightly following an unfortunate knee injury at TOC (not on court!). This knee injury set off my chronic hip issue, and I struggled to regain my form for my next 2 events. However I managed to recompose myself, and have good performances (not always wins), right up until my very last one- British Open. You can read that tournament recap here


BIG TAKEAWAYS


  • Great training does not guarantee great performances. 

  • You can be fit and feeling good under no mental pressure (despite having subjected yourself to a lot of physical pressure), but this does not mean you are automatically tournament-ready. 


  • Focusing on performance based objectives that are within your control, as opposed focusing primarily on the outcome is more helpful- both during the match and afterwards. 

  • The performance based objectives should give you the best chance of winning, and you trust that if you stick to those, you will get the most out of yourself. This is also more helpful for reflections as you have something you can measure, rather than just looking at the score, which might not show you the most important lessons from the match. 


  • There will always be another match. 


  • Find ways to gain perspective 

  • Finding other ways to appreciate your sport or life are equally as important as training and competing. I did this through my personal training, Squashletic, and commentating. Also, spending time with friends and people outside of the sport is useful to stop the comparison trap, and get out of your own world for a bit. 


REFLECTIONS & LOOKING FORWARD


Did I achieve my ranking goals for the season? Nope, I did not. My ranking actually didn’t actually change much. My top level did improve, as did my average level. Next season, I want to improve my consistency in my level of play, which will come from consistent pain-free training. This means managing my body and training so that I can move at full capacity more often. It’s incredibly frustrating when you have 2 good days, and then 2 bad days. You just feel like you are treading water. With everything I have learned (and preach!), I need to make sure I listen to my own advice regarding training management, training variety (the types of sessions you do), and rest/recovery. 


If I look back at where I started- I’ve made massive strides. I only really focused in on my squash career in about 2018, and only stopped coaching (both personal training and squash coaching) in 2020, so I’ve only had 3-4 years “full time”. I don’t regret pursuing the path I have done- it’s both been necessary logistically and financially. You can only do your best with the intent and information you have available to you at that time. Of course I wish I had achieved a higher ranking to date, but I still don’t believe I have reached my best squash yet.


Now it’s the time for the off-season. I’ve spent June off the court, doing gym work and running mainly. My sessions had purpose and intensity to them, but I wasn’t worrying about doing a ton of volume. My base fitness is decent- and volume is simply a matter of just doing more work. 


The early off-season period of June was also crucial to lower the chronic pain response in my hip. I’ve been battling this issue since October 2021, and there has been slow but steady improvement. In July, I’ll be looking to re-establish good movement patterns through ghosting, which is something I could have done more off last summer. Last summer I did a lot of running (especially on the track) and pressure sessions, which were fantastic for my fitness, but this summer I want to integrate some more ghosting as well. 


Before I sign off, I want to give a massive shout out to some coaches and sponsors who helped me throughout this season:


  • Richardson Wealth Management (financial sponsor)

  • Control the T Sports (string, shoe, and grip sponsor)

  • Harrow Sports (racquet & visa sponsor)

  • Rod Martin

  • Graeme Williams

  • Amr Khalifa & Open Squash

  • Jaymie Haycocks, Clinton Leeuw & New York Athletic Club

  • Body Space Fitness


Squash is a challenging sport that can be lonely at times, and I'm hugely appreciative of those who support me. Also- if you are a Squashletic member, or have ever purchased a program from me, thank you for YOUR support! My online coaching through Squashletic is the primary way I fund my life as a professional squash player, and I feel very fortunate to do this as a way to give back and be able to help you improve your own game as well :).


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