Breaking Through the Levels: Age Groups

Hughes (l) against Wahlstedt in the 2015 National Singles.
Hughes (l) against Wahlstedt in the 2015 National Singles.

by Dominic Hughes, Owner of Berwyn Squash & Fitness and Ten-Time National Singles Champion

35+: Two Championships: At this age I was naturally fit and didn’t really train that hard, instead relying on my ability. I was new to the U.S. and wanted to play well and make a statement at nationals. I traveled to Newport with my wife Teresa and two young children Ben and Josh. I had a routine of going down to the hotel bar and having a pint of Bass each night of the tournament, which, Teresa, very uncharacteristically, was not pleased with. After winning the 35’s, I was really excited and happy driving out of Newport, but Teresa continued to tear my head off. I could not for the life of me figure out why. It was only upon returning home did we find out she was pregnant with our daughter Linnea!

40+: Three Championships: My wife was no longer traveling to nationals with me by this time! I did start to notice my fitness was not what it used to be, but didn’t pay that much attention to it. My game had never been predicated on being in great shape. You could say I was in a bit of denial at this age, as my game continued to be about strategy and shot making.

45+: Two Championships: I tore my Achilles during the nationals final in Atlanta in 2008. It was the culmination of a bizarre weekend of tornadoes and beluga whales at the aquarium, along with a broken panel on the all glass court where we were playing the finals. Prior to the Achilles I was naïve to injuries. It actually made me a better person as it gave me an understanding of them and made me more sympathetic to those afflicted. The following year, when I defeated Richard Millman in the finals at Trinity, it was a huge emotional release. I had recovered! I was back!

50+: Three Championships: My finals match against Anders Wahlstedt in 2015 is one I often think about. I was down 2-0, having dropped the second game 20-18. It’s funny, I remember in 2008, in Atlanta, one of the sponsors was advertising joint replacements. Things like this were so alien and futuristic to me then. Now, for the first time in my life, diet and fitness were a big part of my preparation. I work with a personal trainer twice a week. I start getting ready for nationals after Christmas, and, after they are over, I take time off to mentally regroup. Anders is a great guy and a tremendous player, but, utilizing my preparation, I hung in there and was able to pull it out 11-9 if the fifth, which was hugely satisfying.