Squashing the mystery: What’s this sport all about?

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Squashing the mystery: What’s this sport all about?

Mabel Malhotra, Meghan Dayton

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Keep your foot in the five-by-five box. Aim for the front wall, above the second thick red line, and below the third. Make sure the ball swings diagonally, ending up on the left side of the court. All these thoughts were running through our minds as we lifted up the squash racquets we borrowed from a “teammate,” and with all our strength, attempted to serve the ball.
The two of us love to try new things together. We’ve coached a soccer team, we’ve bussed 10 hours to Boston, we’ve even gotten in a car accident. But never have we dabbled in Wilson’s hidden athletic gem: the squash team. And no, we’re not talking about the gourd cousin of pumpkin. We’re talking about the cramped, sweaty, boujee cousin of tennis and ping pong.

The Wilson squash team practices at the Aussienick Squash courts, located on the 18th floor of a fancy office complex in Friendship Heights. To get there, you not only need to take the elevator, but find a hidden stairwell that leads you to the very top floor; one with a sauna, three squash courts, and a stunning view.

After we changed in the women’s locker room, we wandered toward the squash courts. We were preceded by sweaty Landon boys, so we checked the workout space, and found the Wilson team. We had made it. Everyone was equipped with squash goggles and racquets, a clear sign that we were just beginners, as we were empty-handed.

The coach quickly adapted, however, and we were off and running. Literally. We sprinted, shuffled, and sprang from “backcourt” to “frontcourt.” The coach, Jim, who works for Aussienick Squash, wasted no time. We were split up into two groups: one court for the beginners, and one for the more experienced. Obviously, we were put in the experienced court.

For us beginners, practice was split into three parts. First, we were taught the basics: how to serve, how to aim the ball, and how to swing. We waited in line, ready to receive a serve from coach Jim. Although our hand-eye coordination occasionally failed us, it was so much fun. When your racquet connected with the ball, and you heard the “SLAM” on the wall ahead of you, it felt good.

Soon enough, however, all we were doing was hitting the ball, picking it up, hitting the ball, picking it up. Nothing exciting. So Jim directed us beginners to a room with a gymnastic mat for what he called “conditioning.” He showed us a sequence of strange arm movements and lunges to practice our form. Each of us had a turn walking across the mat, lunging and hitting an imaginary ball with an imaginary racquet. When we had finally perfected our form, we headed back to where it really goes down: the courts.

We ended with more conditioning, including a one-minute- and 30-second plank and some free play on the courts. Although we never stayed in for more than one round, as Wilson squash has some very experienced squashers on the squad, we couldn’t help but want to improve. There was an exciting energy in the court that we couldn’t resist.

We must say, however, we were a bit disappointed by the misrepresentation of Wilson’s diverse student body on the squash team. We both felt slightly out of place, as we were surprisingly the only girls there. Luckily, we had the experienced Mike “Layout God” Dorros there to show us the ropes and answer all our questions about the game.

We, Meghan and Mabel, ask YOU, loyal reader, to consider joining the squash team. It is a fun experience and a place to meet new friends. We made a couple of friends too. And who knows? One of these days, you might even be lucky enough to catch one of US squashing it up on the court, as we had so much fun, that we can’t help but consider joining the team. But trust me, we’ll win.