Canadian Squash Player Samantha Cornett unpacks the dynamics of playing for a team and on a team and the lessons she learned at the World Doubles Squash Championships
Once in a while, I’m called upon to be a member of a team amidst professional individual competitions. This happens at such events as the World Team Championships, the Pan Am Championships and Pan Am Games, the Commonwealth Games, and the World Games. In these instances I am still on court by myself, but I do get to have the experience of playing for a team.
One of the most interesting things I noticed was how much easier I found it to be to locked into a strategy
This summer, I played in the World Doubles Championships (softball, not hardball). I played on court with two different partners over the week of competition – Shawn Delierre in the mixed event and Nikki Todd in the women’s event. David Baillargeon played with Shawn and Nikki as well.
I got to think about on the difference between competing for myself, by myself, and competing for my partner and with my partner.
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One of the most interesting things I noticed was how much easier I found it to be to locked into a strategy. When there are only two people on a court, my opponent and I, there are many different ways a rally is going to end. When there are four people on the court, there are many ways as well, but the opportunities seemed fewer and farther between, and fairly obvious. They were often well constructed and planned out. This was interesting to me and I think I learned something for my singles game there. Maybe I’m missing this planning and scheming in my singles strategy. I’m giving it a try!
Now, was it easier for me to lock onto a strategy because I had someone counting on me? Someone that was in the box with me? That’s interesting too. Can I recreate this necessity and intensity in my singles game?
Another thing to think about – do I breathe during the rallies?! Here’s a picture mid-rally while I’m playing with Nikki. The ball went across to her side and it looks like it’s the first breath I took in the whole rally. Or maybe I was just worked quite hard. Maybe both! The doubles game was very physical in a different way than singles. The games weren’t usually long, the matches were only best two out of three compared to singles matches that are best three games out of five. But the movements were sharp and fast, and there was a lot of bumping into people. Taking up a lot of space when it was given to you was crucial if you ever wanted to win points. Which leads to lots of contact with four people out there taking their space.
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The final thing that was good for me to take note of during the doubles was how plainly obvious it was when I was tense and tight, versus loose and relaxed. Obviously relaxed without intensity is likely to be a flop, but the looser I was, the easier I found it was to choose the right shot. It seemed like tension not only held my body back but also clouded my mind. I’m guessing that is because my tension was brought on by thinking too much about the result, and not about what was needed in the moment. So they go hand in hand.
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I was glad to learn so much that week. It was a very intense six days, and a real roller coaster of results for our teams. You can see the draws and results here:
Now after the doubles and a summer of training, I turn to my PSA singles season that runs September through May. You can follow along with PSA World Tour results on these two websites: