Sunday, December 20, 2009

Junior Progess...Haadi and his evolving game

He's noyouw 14 and 25 lbs lighter since I wrote about him in September. He's a perfectionist, not always good in squash, and tempermental, and his mind is well beyond his physical capabilities. He shows me things on the court that are at once brilliant and at once retarded. When he finds that middle ground and evens out he will be a force to be reckoned with.

I recently watched him play a match which he was losing. He was sapping the wall with his racquet, mumbling to himself, and his slumped shoulders and overall body language suggested he was losing not to his opponent but to himself. Yes, I realized, he was better than his opponent and should beat him but he was really battling and playing himself, an opponent you can really never beat. People come up to me all the time and compliment me on how I have brought him along but the suggest ways to fix his temperment. I nod and say his temperment has cost him a lot of racquets and there's not much I can do about that.

When he is doing well he listens to me when doing badly he will basically tell me @$@$ off! That is okay, because I know where he is coming from, he is coming from a place where he knows the absolute joys of that tight rail and the utter misery of the loose shot. He is a practice player right now and his success is measured in the quality of his shots, not in the results of the point.

To me, he is already showing signs of a great player. He might not win and make lots of mistakes, but he does things that show me a really high IQ on the court. He is determined to split step on the court during the match, he wills this large frame to split his step and bound toward the ball. While he is perhaps late on the ball, I marvel at the thought of when he is 20 lbs lighter and doing this and exploding to the ball. He has this innate desire to take the ball earlier and pressure his opponent. I see it, I see what he's trying to do and love it. Unfortunately and frustrating for him is his body and skill level won't support that yet.

Haadi will go through a lot of changes in squash, lose a lot of matches, but when he starts winning he will win like a champion, a champion who has known what it is to lose, what it is to be hindered by certain things, he will know what it is to strive to be better, strive to win, to reach every ball. He will someday soon become a player who doesn't critisize himself and evaluate his every shot, he will judge himself at the end of each match and not at the end of each stroke...we will bring him to this point, train him, teach him, and give him the tools to take squash to whatever levels his talent and desire take him -- it may cost some racquets and lots of embarassment and lectures too, but this junior is gifted and someday I hope to watch him play a match where I won't know the score and I won't know whether he is winning or losing.

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