90 Seconds With Chris Binnie

SQUASH MAGAZINE: When was the first time you played squash outside of Jamaica?
Chris Binnie: When I was eight or nine, I went to Barbados to play in the Caribbean Individual tournament and got my butt kicked. 

SM: What’s the Jamaica squash scene like now compared to when you were a junior?
CB: When I was coming up I was pretty fortunate that it was a good era. There were two other really good juniors and a lot of older players who gave me a lot of guidance, and that was pretty much how I got to the level I did. The association is still trying. They just implemented a school system so they’re trying to get things more organized and grassroots. But everything works slowly in Jamaica. We’re on island time.

binnie-2SM: Was the U.S. college experience what you expected?
CB: I didn’t even think about college to be honest, until I decided I wanted to play tournaments. I started training and after a few months, I thought maybe I don’t want to turn professional when I was eighteen. So I contacted U.S. schools. Trinity definitely changed my life.

SM: As a coach, what advice do you give new Trinity players?
CB: To explore everything. Many of these players don’t come from much, or come from completely different cultures, so the first thing we like to teach them is to explore everything on campus and everything it has to offer culturally and socially.

SM: How will it feel to represent Jamaica in the Pan Ams playing on your adopted home courts at Trinity?
CB: It’s going to be really cool. I’m excited. I’ll have the team and Trinity community there supporting myself and the other Trinity grads. It will be an honor to represent my country, but to do it on my home courts now is going to be special.

SM: What was it like walking into the Commonwealth Games in the company of Usain Bolt?
CB: It was amazing. He’s a pretty relaxed person. He was so well regarded there so everyone was trying to talk to him and take pictures with him. All of those track-and-field Jamaicans are world class. It was cool to be among them in the athletes’ village, eating with them, having meetings with them and seeing what it’s like on their level.

SM: You’re already the greatest Jamaican squash player of all time. How many Jamaicans know they have a seven-time Caribbean and six-time national squash champion?
CB: Probably just me! I get fairly good coverage in Jamaica. Squash itself has gotten more coverage. I’m trying to lead the country still, to help get more funding for more players. It would be great to have more exposure, but I’ve been very fortunate so far.

SM: What do you miss most about living in Jamaica?
CB: The food, music and culture. Food especially, like jerk chicken, breakfast ackee, shark tail, curry goat and things like that. Probably rum as well, but I don’t drink as much rum as I want. 

SM: Do you listen to reggae music?
CB: Of course, we also have a genre called dancehall. Dancehall is a more modern version of reggae music. I definitely love both of them. 

SM: Proudest moment as a player?
CB: The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I got to play Nick Matthew on the glass court, which was shown all over the world and I thought I did OK. That was such an incredible experience.

SM: Most embarrassing moment as a player?
CB: One time I was late for a qualifying match, and I quickly ran into the locker room, changed, put on my long pants—I always wear long pants when I warm up—and get on to the court. After the warmup, I started taking off the pants to start the match. As I’m pulling down my pants, I realize there was nothing underneath.

SM: What are the keys to your recent success reaching world No. 77?
CB: Rod Martin. I started working with Rod in January, and before working with him I thought I had made it to a point that I would be able to do well on tour, but he took my game to another level and I had the best spring I’ve ever had and reached my highest ranking. I’m hoping to continue to raise my game with him.

SM: If you could play an exhibition against any past or present squash player tomorrow, who would it be?
CB: I’d like to hit with John White down at Drexel. He really slaps the ball. With two big boys against each other, I think that would be a pretty fun game to watch, him diving around the court, me trying to see where he’s hitting the ball.

SM: Who will be ranked higher by January 2017, you or your fellow Trinity coach Vikram Malhotra?
CB: Oh, I don’t know. As long as we’re both moving up, I think we’ll both be happy.