Entering their second season of coaching Andover Boys Squash together, Head Coach John Roberts and Assistant Coach William Yu look to build upon last year’s 8-4 record. Currently, the team is on a three match winning streak and an overall record of 3-2.
How do you work with each other to build one strong coaching unit?
Coach Yu: We have our own methodology. Generally speaking, we’ll be working pretty closely hand-in-hand in terms of assigning drills for the boys to work on and giving our own insight into helping coach them through the drills and putting out things that we noticed that we want them to change. Whether it be in drills or in matches, both of us play a fairly similar role and we both have very similar coaching ideologies and a pretty similar approach in terms of what strategically we believe is the best option.
Coach Roberts: It’s been a great year and half working together coaching the [Boys Squash] team. Having both played competitive team squash, [Coach Yu and I] are able to draw on our own experiences from those four years and help the boys as they navigate their own way through high school squash and hopefully college squash. We’re able to bounce ideas off each other and whilst, most of the fundamentals are similar, it’s great for our boys to get two different perspectives on the sport from a coaching standpoint.
How are you bringing your experience into your coaching?
Coach Yu: The perspective I can bring—obviously these lads are quite technically talented, but there’s still a lot of strategic ideas that are based upon beating opponents that are worse than you. That… is a fundamental skill set that will help them continue to improve and beat opponents that are even better than them. I think that’s something that both Mr. Roberts and I can help with.
Coach Roberts: It’s great to be able to advise our boys through those tricky match times or challenge match moments where they feel uncomfortable or get pretty down after a match. For the most part, any squash scenario the boys come across, between myself and Coach Yu, we’ve likely felt it or been there before and [that] makes it easier to help the team. High school and college squash can be very formulaic, a certain style of play is more successful that others in high pressure environments and we try to convey this in practice every day.
What do you do to make more of an individual sport such a close team?
Coach Roberts: Squash in the [U.S.A.] is pretty unique in this respect where high school and college squash are played in a team format, despite being, fundamentally, an individual sport. This, however, is what makes it so special. You’re able to get the best of both worlds and we try to remind our boys that we are competing and training as a team. When you’re spending an hour and a half a day, for much of the year, with your teammates, they become more like family which is pretty cool. One day, someone will lose and the team will win. Another day, someone else might get the win for the team. It really helps build camaraderie and friendship from what can sometimes be a lonely sport and they truly spur each other on in practice and in matches.
How does the team differ from last year?
Coach Yu: The team is a lot younger this year, and we lost a couple of really good Seniors last year, which we’ve filled in with some new blood. I have to say that overall the team is a fairly good bunch. I think everyone is really looking to improve themselves. I think everyone is very eager to improve their game on both a technical and strategic level and I’m very excited to see where we’ll go.
Beginning this season, what successes and struggles have you seen arise so far?
Coach Roberts: We graduated three Seniors last year from the top six so it’s been a challenge adapting. Fortunately, the younger guys have really stepped up and have been training hard every day. Our upperclassmen have been excellent role models for them and we have a strong team mentality and work ethic at the moment which is awesome to see from such a young group… We just hope to continue improving both on and off the court and hopefully that translates into some results for the team. It would be awesome for our Seniors to make D1 at High School Nationals, top 16 in the country, as it hasn’t been done for a long time but we’ll know more in a couple of weeks.