Intensity Squash, Norwalk, CT
My main objective as the new director of squash is to build on what Southport Racquet Club has brought over to Intensity, which is a thriving and enthusiastic 150+ adult membership and a passion for the sport and helping each other. My immediate focus though has turned to establishing a strong junior pre-season roster and then improving the experience for the young players and school students we have coming through the club.
In Australia growing up, most players who wanted to learn and improve found someone of similar ability and just hit around. Here I think (and this may be counter intuitive coming from someone who earns their living giving lessons) but, there isn’t enough of just getting on court and playing, having fun without a pro supervising every single shot. My brother and I grew up in squash clubs and our father is a coach, but we didn’t take lessons every day. We just tried to beat each other, in any type of game possible, usually without shoes on, playing because we enjoyed it not because we had to. I think there needs to be more of that here.
Members heard rumors that Equinox was taking over Southport Racquet Club around Christmas 2015. Equinox and the owners of the original SRC wanted to preserve the community that had built around the club, yet they ignored the squash community. Our courts, as they did at the Printing House in New York a few years earlier, were to be torn down. The squash players sprang into action. We explored multiple options to save squash—leasing a building and building a club, working with local private golf clubs and hunt clubs to build courts, the YMCA, even local universities that may be interested in expanding their facilities. Our best option emerged quickly. Intensity, one of the premier tennis facilities and fitness clubs in the area, had a seventh tennis court in a stand-alone building. The owners, Clair Mason and Mike Marcus were interested in expanding to squash, and a deal was struck. Nine months after hearing rumors of court closures, and a month before they closed their doors for good, Southport squash had a magnificent new home. Four new McWill squash courts, men’s and women’s locker rooms in a self-contained club. More than 90% of the Southport
players joined, as well as the local high school team from Staples in Westport.
Our community spans from senior players to youngsters. Most everyone will jump on court with anyone and have a hit—regardless of age or ability. I think we buck the stigma of snooty squash players. We lucked out really. We had people in every position needed to make this work. We had marketing people, finance people, an architect, security guys, former owners of Southport who gave sage advice, and so much more. Basically, we had all the right people working in unison. We didn’t miss a day of squash through the whole thing.
I’m now Intensity’s (Southport RC) third Australian Head Pro. Melissa and Brett Martin ran the program for three years in the mid 2000s. The club was lucky to have them back recently on their way down to the World Masters which was great for me as they gave an insight into how great the squash community is at the club.
The adult membership is thriving. Every day of the week the courts
are full of active adult players of all abilities. I believe Intensity has the third largest box league competition in the country: all run by the members. Which says a lot about their passion and love for the game.
My playing focus has turned to representing Australia which I have done several times in the last few seasons and they have been the highlights of my career. We came third at the World Men’s Team Championship in Marseille, France, last year, which was a great thrill. Then more recently winning a gold medal for Australia at the Commonwealth Games in the men’s doubles with David Palmer was unbelievable, especially just an hour from where I grew up. I also play the SDA tour and won the National Hardball Singles at the Harvard Club last winter, which was fun to try. In my off time I still passionately follow the AFL (Australian Rules Football) back home, and play golf as much as possible.