This winter, under the new management of Infinitum Squash in Sudbury, Boys’ and Girls’ Squash hope to become a more serious and competitive program than in years past. Professional guidance from Infinitum coaches and, for the first time in the squash program’s history, reliable access to home courts have created room for the sport’s growth.
Last year, the school’s squash teams outsourced coaching from The Osman Group (TOG), an organization that hosts squash programs and offers private instruction throughout New England. However, both players and the school administration expressed dissatisfaction with TOG’s programming.
Girls’ Squash Co-Captain Alexandra Wagner ’19 attributed the team’s lack of skill expansion last year to inadequate and distant mentoring.
“Last year I felt like I didn’t get much coaching,” she said. “The coach would sometimes not even watch my matches, which would frustrate me.”
Boys’ Squash Co-Captain Michael Remijan ’19 said the coaches last year did not maintain team discipline and structure in practices, and the lack of rigor translated to poor match performance.
“Lots of players, especially leaders, skipped practices, but the coaches didn’t hold them accountable,” he said. “The coaches were too accommodating with whatever certain players wanted, even if they had no reason to be.”
Athletic Director Chuck Richard said that the abilities of last year’s coaches was okay, but the student experience was not optimal, and added that the program did not meet the school’s expectations.
“I felt like we could do better, and I wasn’t sure if [TOG] wanted to continue,” he said. “I couldn’t deal with that uncertainty, so that was when I started reaching out to other programs.”
The athletic department decided on Infinitum Squash after interviewing three squash groups that expressed interest in the school’s team.
Infinitum Squash Founder Chessin Gertler said the program strives to develop its players thoughtfully—novice and elite players alike—and to employ a curriculum of both physical and mental conditioning. Infinitum Head Pro Matt Sidaway, previously the number one junior squash player in Europe, serves as head coach of both Boys’ and Girls’ Squash, occasionally aided in practices by Infinitum Academy Director Nick Taylor, a professional squash player formerly ranked number 14 in the world.
As a perk of working with Infinitum Squash, the boys’ and girls’ teams have access to the academy’s state-of-the-art, eight-court facility in Sudbury, where they go on Wednesdays to host “home” matches—something they were unable to do in past years. For the sake of convenience, the teams continue to practice three times a week at reserved courts in the Boston University Fitness & Recreation Center, where they are joined by Infinitum coaches.
Mr. Gertler, who hung a BB&N banner over the Infinitum courts, said home courts will foster the team’s sense of togetherness.
“It’s not just having and knowing your courts that really gives you a sense of home and a sense of team, but it’s thinking in a team dynamic,” he added. “We have a beautiful facility in Sudbury, and what we really wanted to offer to BB&N is that ‘this is your space.’”
Boys’ Player Ben Wiegand ’20 said the home courts have benefited the team.
“It’s good for the team that we have a place to call our own,” he said. “Being used to how the ball bounces on the courts gives us a home court advantage for matches.”
Girls’ Squash Co-Captain Hannah Sarnak ’19 noted the squash teams’ growth this past year.
“Our results clearly show that we have done better this year than past years,” she said. “We’ve defeated teams that previously crushed us, definitely a result of the improved coaching and stricter commitment to the sport.”
To tackle some of the team’s confidence issues, Coach Matt said, he focuses on helping players find direction and purpose for their involvement with the sport. He also said he hoped to create a fun environment for his players, as they should enjoy their time on the team.
“Squash as a sport itself is so serious at the moment, but I think we have to have that fun aspect of the sport as well,” he added.
Girls’ Squash Co-Captain Anna Nicholas ’19 said she appreciates the attention Coach Matt pays the team and his constant drive to help them get better.
“This year, our practices have been much more targeted to help us improve on specific struggle areas,” Anna said.
Boys’ Squash Co-Captain Sam Gloss ’19 also highlighted the drastic change in the practice dynamic from last year.
“Compared to the free-for-all, you’re-on-your-own structure last year, this year there is a lot more accountability, so everyone is going through it together,” he said. “It is that shared experience that has brought the team together.”
The team has received Coach Matt incredibly well, Sam said, adding that much of the teams’ improvement so far can be attributed to their trust in him.
“We really like Matt. You can say a lot to him, you can talk to him; he’s even given us all nicknames,” Sam said. “So when Matt instructs us, we follow through because we trust him rather than because he is our boss.”
Boys’ and Girls’ Squash each brought seven players to Hartford, Connecticut, from February 1 to 3 for the HEAD U.S. High School Team Squash Championships. The boys suffered a 3–4 loss in a semifinals match, placing 3rd in the 7th division, and the girls placed 8th in the 5th division.