Defeating both his opponents 3-0 in matches against Choate and Tabor, fourth seed Xander Schwartz ’19 has played an important role in the beginning of the season. Schwartz’ victories have contributed greatly to Andover’s early wins — 7-0 against Choate and 5-2 against Tabor — in its first two matches of the season.
Schwartz is a four-year Senior from North Andover, Mass. and began to play squash when he was eight years old. Schwartz says is excited for what this year could bring for the young team and believes that it could be very successful.
“[This] is I think the strongest team Andover has had in ten or 15 years probably. Last week, we barely lost to Belmont Hill who have been national champions in recent years and are among the best teams in the country year in and year out. So that’s a really strong sign that we’re making progress,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz’ shot-making skills, ability to keep composure in tight matches, and drive to become a better player have earned him The Phillipian’s athlete of the week.
Do you have a person who you look up to when you’re playing squash?
I think the best example would be our coach who is also a professional squash player when he’s not coaching us. So that’s somebody, in terms of squash ability, who can be a symbol for what we can achieve and that’s probably the best example of a role model in that sense.
What do you think is the best part of being on this Andover team?
I think part of it is just that we are a very strong team compared to past years, but I think a large part of it is also that over the past couple of years many players have been on the team for a while and they’ve really been able to grow and get better together. And the new kids have felt that it’s a good group of kids. People also seem to, for the most part, play the game the right way in the aspect that we do our best and we don’t get frustrated when we lose. We try to be both the better player on and off the court with our opponents and I think that shows.
Because the break is coming up, what are you doing to prepare or to relax?
I think this is a perfect time to mention that Andover is hosting the US Open Squash Championships for the first time which is the biggest junior squash tournament of the year which is really exciting. I know a number of us, myself included, are competing in that which is very exciting. That’s here at Andover, Brooks, and Harvard. I think that’s the main part of it, but then also just staying in shape and getting better. Everyone’s separating but also for the most part everyone plays back at home whether you are a day student or its New York or India or San Francisco or wherever kids from our team are, they play back at home and are getting better. I think the main part is a lot of kids are doing the tournament this weekend though.
Because the season is so young, what personal goals do you have for yourself?
I think, at least for me at this point, where I’m a Senior, it’s less about where I am on the ladder and more team-oriented. So, in squash, we have nationals at the end of the season and there are different divisions of 16 schools. My [Junior] year, we were in the bottom of the third division and every year we have gotten a little bit better. This year, I think the goal is to get into the top division which would be very exciting to play against some of the best teams in the country.
Do you have any rituals before you play your games?
I always pull up my socks as high as they can go and tie my shoes tightly.
What’s your favorite play or move in your matches?
A reverse boast is what it’s called… Unlike a typical boast where you hit it into the wall closest to you, you hit it into the wall on the opposite side of the court. So, if you were on the right side of the court, you’d hit it into the left wall and then it hits the front wall.
What do you think you’ve learned from your Andover team?
I think it goes somewhat to what I was just saying in terms of our discipline and how we deal with losses and that there are players that are sometimes going to be better than you. Although squash is an individual sport, we play as a team and we can make ourselves better. It may not be in the heat of the match, but outside of the matches, in practice, we can make it so that the sum of our parts is better than the whole by being part of the team despite the individualized part of the sport.