SPA-tlight: John Rooney

John Rooney, Head Professional, Buffalo Tennis and Squash  Buffalo, New York

John is the two-time Irish National Champion, winning the title in 2009 and 2010. He rose to a high of world No. 52, including a win at the West of Ireland PSA Tour event in 2007. After a year as an assistant coach at Yale University, John is now playing a key role in putting Buffalo squash back on the map, revitalizing their junior programs and even playing a little doubles.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Galway, which is in the West region of Ireland.

Was squash your only sport growing up?
Growing up I did, of course, play squash, but I also enjoyed Gaelic football, which is a mix of soccer and rugby and is indigenous to Ireland. I also played soccer. My favorite athlete at the time was Michael Carruth. He won the gold medal as a welterweight in the 1992 Summer Olympics.

What is the current state of squash in Ireland?
Ireland squash is very healthy. Some of the top juniors are the best in Europe, which is a huge success.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 2.13.50 PMYou were the assistant coach at Yale University for a short time. What was your favorite part about coaching at that level?
I really enjoyed my time at Yale. The students were very receptive and hardworking and we had a great team environment.

What made moving to Buffalo so attractive?
I saw Buffalo as a fantastic city to raise a family, which is very important to me. I also saw the huge potential for the growth of squash in Buffalo. We are very lucky to have a great Buffalo T&S Club squash committee and BSRA organization that are working very hard to develop squash.

Had you ever seen that much snow before?
Last winter we had very little snow but this year we definitely had lots of snow to play in with our son. We had lots of fun.

Hardball doubles is a huge facet of the Buffalo squash scene. Do you get out on the doubles court much?
I have really taken to hardball doubles; the social aspect is fantastic at the Buffalo T&S Club. I get out on the doubles court every week with a good bunch of guys.

Who is your favorite PSA Player?
That’s a tough question, but if I have to single out one player, I do enjoy watching Nick Matthew and admire the intensity he plays at.

If you could be anything else for a living, what would it be?
I never really thought about that before, great topic of conversation over a couple of drinks!