I turned 35 a little over a month ago so I can now officially play as a Masters Squash player in squash tournaments. I also have the grey hairs creeping through my skull so I feel I’m aptly qualified.
My first involvement with any Masters’ squash event was in 2014 at the Hong Kong World Masters’ Championships. This is where I fell in love with the whole atmosphere of Masters’ tournaments.
The World Masters’ Squash Championships is taking place again this year, this time in South Africa in the 2nd half of September.
Although I’d love to go, unfortunately, logistics don’t allow for it this year. Hopefully, next time.
The Italian Masters’ Squash Championships
However, I will be playing in the Italian Masters’ Championships from 9-11th September. I don’t know who is entering but I do know that, in general, the 35+ age-group is fiercely competitive.
Think about it – someone like Nick Matthew could enter if he wanted to, or Amr Shabana or David Palmer. I would love to be able to play any top guys like this… when I say ‘play’, I mean run around like a chicken with its head cut off and just try to stay in the rallies as long as possible. 🙂
Reality is the guys who will probably be entering won’t be quite that good. But I’m still hoping to be playing players much better than me.
And what I’m really looking forward to in the next handful of years is meeting lots of new players and also running into old friends.
A Fitness Fighting Chance For A Masters Squash Player
For the next 6 weeks leading up to the Italian Masters Squash Championships, it gives me an opportunity to finish my 7-Week Squash Fitness Bootcamp – I just completed the 1st week.
I’ve committed to 10 minutes of exercise in the morning just after waking up and before having anything to eat. Add to that, 30 minutes later in the day for a harder fitness session.
While I won’t have the match-practice probably needed for a tournament like this, I have a trusted & willing training partner, Nejat Unal, who is kindly spending time on court with me at ClubSporium – Bostancı, in Istanbul.
(Of course, I’m doing regular solo-practice too.)
Nejat is an mid-level squash club player. And although his skill is quite a lot lower than mine he is enthusiastic. Because he is a former professional football player, he has a keen sports-mind – he listens, watches and always gives 100%.
We’re running a little experiement…
The Malcolm Willstrop Approach
While chatting with Malcolm Willstrop at one of the Hong Kong Open’s a few years ago, he was describing how he runs his club at Pontefract.
At one point, for example, he described how his son James (former world #1) would regularly call up one of the junior players for practice, someone who he could annihilate in a match. Malcolm described how they would play condition games which restricted what James could do and forced him to be much more accurate…
…his nickname, by the way, is “The Marksman” 🙂
Malcolm encourages all his members, whether juniors or masters squash players, to do the same – play & train with players of all levels, whether they are much better or much worse than your level.
So, to whatever degree, I’m trying this approach out for myself.
My assessment for how effective I can make it won’t be the result of whether I win a match or two, or more. It will be how I’m feeling in the matches while playing.
I’ve been playing long enough to be able to gauge it. And I plan to play for many more years to come!
Peter Hill – My Inspiration For A Masters Squash Player
While living in Hong Kong, I was fortunate enough to get to know, play and train with Peter Hill, from Singapore.
Peter used to be around World #20 or so during the Khan era in the 80’s. Now he’s in his early 50’s and still playing tough – nearly knocked off Brett Martin at the World Masters’ Squash Championships 50+ semi-final in Hong Kong in 2014 in a tough 5-set match… definitely broke him down. 🙂
A couple of things he told me about why he’s still going strong are:
- He never stopped playing; and
- He set goals for himself to keep his mind focused and his body vibrant; he is still constantly playing in the top-level HK league & entering tournaments etc.
If I can be going as strong as him by the time I’m in my 50’s, I’ll be cheering!
Famous Last Words 🙂
So, I plan on continuing both with playing squash and also training the squash fitness workout which, I believe, is the best thing any player can be doing for their squash fitness, both in the short and long term.
Anyway, wish me luck and hopefully I’ll see you in Italy or at an upcoming tournament! Please come up and say hi 🙂
Have fun & play your own game!
P.S. For a closer experience of my preparation, check out Season #1 of The Friday Night Squash Fitness Podcast.