SPA-tlight: Doug Whitaker

Doug Whittaker, Director of Squash, Germantown Cricket Club

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.50.23 AMWhere did you grow up?
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada

How did you get involved with squash?
As an infant I was diagnosed with a congenital bone disease called leg perthes which excluded me from sports (I was in a brace from hip to toe for 2+ years) at an early age and, as a result, became a bit heavier in weight than my peers. The weight gain, and the inactivity I experienced while recovering from the condition, put me behind other young people in athletic development. As it turned out, squash was a great way to be active without the contact in some other team sports such as hockey, football, etc. So, squash became a way to move around, and I shed a few pounds with the activity—and I never looked back.

Who was your first teacher?
Clive Caldwell gave me my first few lessons, but Aziz Khan (Hashim’s 3rd son) gave me the majority of instruction in my formative years.

Did you play other sports?
I tried my best at hockey (being Canadian), baseball, soccer and track but, because of my size and strength, squash turned out to be the best way to progress. I was able to grow with the sport as my physical skills improved.

Why is Philadelphia such a mecca for squash in the US?
Since I have been in Philadelphia, I have come to believe it is an important squash city because of the history. Germantown Cricket Club, in the 1920s, was the place to play with many national champions calling GCC home. Over the years some of the other local clubs have developed their own histories of great players and this, in time, has proved to be the beginning of a long lineage of squash excellence in the city. It has also long been a place where good college players are developed— for many years a lot of the stronger varsity college players came from this city—and that tradition has continued.

The U.S. Open is coming to Philadelphia this fall. What impact will the event have on the Philadelphia Squash scene?
A fantastic impact! This is such an active squash city, an event like this should be in Philadelphia. With all the great players at one event, fans in Philadelphia will be able to see firsthand how the game is really played. Additionally, since the scoring was changed a few years ago, young players will be able to see how the game is strategically played at the top level with the same scoring structure they use in their own junior events. This should inspire and raise all levels of their play.

What role will your club have in the Open?
Germantown Cricket Club will be hosting some of the qualifying matches. We have a great facility here, a great team to host the event and the courts are second to none in playability. I am sure the pros will enjoy the club as well as like the courts. Many of our members are interested in the event so it should be a well attended portion of the tournament.

Who is your favorite PSA Player to watch compete?
I always enjoyed watching Jonathon Power and Graham Ryding play, but current active players I would have to say Amr Shabana. He still has the skills to beat the young guys.

Do you watch other sports?
I enjoying watching golf because of the swing mechanics and mental approach in competition— I find both very similar to squash. I also like to watch soccer and tennis.

Favorite shot to hit?
Hard hit cross-court forehand volley dead nick kill, every time!