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Squash e-interview with Ryan Donegan

Ryan Donegan is currently the #1 player on the Dartmouth college varsity squash team ( ranked #5 2003) and a squashclub.org member

SquashClub.org: How and when did you get seriously interested in squash?

I started playing squash when I was 12 years old. My step-father, who is mainly a racquetball player, played squash to get into shape for racquetball tournaments. As a result, he tried to get me to play racquetball but I just found it too boring. Squash on the other hand was very interesting to me and I mainly played as a hobby to my other more serious sports at the time, which were basketball, golf, and baseball. After playing non-serious squash for about a year and a half, I became much more involved and serious with the game, when Gus Cook took me on as his student. In a relationship that was beneficially to the both of us, Gus used me as a project to prove to the U.S. that he was a very qualified squash coach and I was given lessons for basically no charge. (Charges will come in the future as Gus says). From this point onwards, I became more and more serious about squash and eventually chose it as my main focus athletically. With Gus as my coach/agent, I was given the opportunity to work with Mike Johnson in England, which improved my game tremendously before college.

SquashClub.org: How do like playing collegiate squash?

Playing collegiate squash is very exciting but also very difficult. When I came to Dartmouth to begin my freshman year I really had no idea what to expect but as I soon found out, balancing academics and serious squash is difficult. Our team practices start in October and from that point until mid March the team has practice five or six times a week for 2 hours a day. When the team does not have practice we have team matches; there are two weekends of matches in November and matches every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday in January, February, and March. With a tremendous amount of squash packed into my schedule, which includes extra early morning sessions to insure that I am ready for the season, all of my remaining time is left for school. So after 10 weeks of just school and squash, a long vacation is usually in order.

As for the competition in college squash, it is a very good level right now and I think it will continue to go higher. As schools become more serious and competitive with their squash teams, they look to bring in the best recruits, which happen to be mostly from foreign countries. As a an American player looking to improve as much as possible in college this is of great advantage for me. As the level goes higher it gives me the opportunity to push my game to that next level, which will help me greatly when I play after school.

So far college squash has been a great experience for me and I look forward to hopefully winning the intercollegiate title before I leave Dartmouth, thereby making myself the first American to win the title since the softball conversion. I also hope that the level of college squash continues to get higher. With most of the American players choosing to go to college they are at a great disadvantage when playing professionally after school. If the college level gets high enough it will give the top American collegiate players a much better chance at becoming top level pros after school.

SquashClub.org: Many thanks to Ryan for sharing his insights! He can be reached by searching for squash players in the state of "Louisiana" in USA.

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