WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - Now in its eighth year of existence, the Squash and Beyond Camp at Williams College provides aspiring squash players with the most in-depth training experience in the world, thanks to some of the game's best professionals and coaches. This past week, the camp had an extra-special guest on staff, as the top-ranked squash player in the world, Nick Matthew of Sheffield, England.
"It is an honor to have Nick Matthew here at Williams," remarked Zafi Levy, the head coach of the Williams College squash team and founder of Squash and Beyond, "To have him teaching the young players has been truly amazing. He is a great person who cares about youth."
Matthew got involved with Squash and Beyond about five years ago, through the former English National Team coach and co-founder of Squash and Beyond David Pearson. Since then Matthew has been coming to Williamstown every year to share his knowledge of the game with the camp participants, an annual experience that he genuinely enjoys. "I really enjoy coming. It is great to give back to the kids because I was in their shoes once myself," remarked Matthew.
While Matthew appears relaxed as he mingles around the Simon Squash Center, the two weeks he will spend in the Berkshires are far from a vacation for the two-time British Open Champion. "I have been training really hard while I'm here. I've been training every morning and evening, getting in two or three sessions a day," commented Matthew, whose next professional event is not until August's 2011 Australian Open, "Obviously, when you combine that with the coaching it makes for quite long days, but I enjoy it. This is when I get some of the best work in. I get to use the facilities, and it is warmer than England".
On Thursday afternoon, after a week of coaching, Matthew took to the courts to play an exhibition match against Greg McArthur of Scotland. Matthew won the best of three matches 2-0. The campers in attendance marveled at the immense talent of both players, but it was Matthew especially who wowed the spectators with many spectacular shots.
The exhibition match drew more spectators than just the attendants of Squash and Beyond. Also observing the contest were numerous members of the Williams athletic staff, including head football coach Aaron Kelton.
After the exhibition match, Zafi Levy gave two campers the opportunity to take on Matthew in a two against one contest. Glen Brickman of Greenwich, CT was one of the lucky campers.
Recalling his reaction to the news that he would get the chance to play against Matthew, Brickman remarked, "I was pumped. You don't get these opportunities every day."
The match was a definite thrill for the young men as Brickman and his partner were looking to defeat Matthew. "We were hoping to beat him and we came pretty close. I'm pretty sure he was going 50%," commented Brickman. Matthew would overcome a 7-9 deficit to defeat Brickman and his partner 12-10.
While Brickman said it was great to play against Matthew, he also noted that Matthew was a great coach. "He is not just going to tell you how to do play, he is going to get on the court and show you. He also has a lot of fun with it, which makes it a blast for everyone involved."
|World #1 Nick Matthew|
Matthew's exceptional teaching and enthusiasm is something that grabbed the attention of everyone involved with Squash and Beyond, especially Levy. "He works with the kids on and off of the court. He is just amazing, humble, and very energetic."
Levy is particularly excited about the many local athletes who will have the chance to learn from Matthew. He commented, "Next week we have a lot of local kids coming to the camp, so it will be nice for them to have the opportunity to learn from him."
Matthew shared in Levy's excitement; "Every year I come there have been more and more kids in the camp and more and more kids playing, especially from this area."
While everyone involved with Squash and Beyond was ecstatic about Matthew's presence, Matthew was quick to recognize Levy for his ability to attract a top tier coaching staff. "Alister Walker, who is in the top 20, was here last week, and Peter Barker, who is ranked eighth in the world, will be here in a few a weeks. Zafi gets a great coaching staff so the kids can learn from some of the best."
The young athletes who have had the opportunity to learn from Nick Matthew are very fortunate because Matthew, who spends most of the year participating in tournaments, rarely gets the opportunity to coach. "I really only coach these two weeks throughout the entire year."
While Matthew has been enjoying his time in Williamstown, Levy was quick to point out that the real beneficiaries were the participants at Squash and Beyond and the greater Williamstown and Williams College community, "It has been a great week and we are so lucky to have him here at Williams for these two weeks."