Spa-tlight

Celia Allamargot
Head Squash Coach,
Sacred Heart Greenwich,
Greenwhich CT

There are quite a few differences between squash here in the U.S. and in France.The first one that comes to my mind is between turning pro or going to college. In France, every top junior wants to become a professional and play on the tour as soon as they graduate, whereas in the U.S., top players are aiming for the best colleges and to play for their squash team. In France, middle class players can afford to play squash and take lessons, whereas in U.S. it’s a bit more of an elitist class that you will see play squash. That is also the reason why a lot of Europeans are coming to the U.S. to make a living as a squash coach, as it is so much harder to do so in France and Europe in general.

Before Sacred Heart built our new courts, the girls had to travel to clubs in the area to be able to practice. Some of those clubs didn’t have enough courts or time slots to accommodate more than one team so the coach had to make some cuts. With six courts, we can now have two middle school teams, a jv and a varsity, which gives a better opportunity to the girls to play squash for their school team.

When transitioning from tour player to coaching the first thing I had to realize is you are now on the other side of the court. It is sometimes hard as you would rather play than stressing out when your player makes the wrong choices, is playing a tie break or a five setter. You have to remember your career is behind you and it’s now all about the kids you’re coaching, so the approach is different. You can’t ask the same things of your players or at least not all of them. Some just want to play for fun while some want to be on the U.S. junior team, so you have to adapt.

The most useful speakers at Squash Summit 2015 for me as a coach were AJ Kohlepp and Dave Reiss as well as the panel discussion about college squash. I also liked the diversity of subjects. It was really great to hear from different speakers about the way they run their club or association, their experience, their background.

The SPA Program provides benefits to pros who support US Squash initiatives to drive growth in the game.

The SPA Program provides benefits to pros who support US Squash initiatives to drive growth in the game.

I used to be on the French team with Greg Gaultier and Camille Serme
and played numerous tournaments alongside them. It was gratifying
to see them play so well at the U.S. Open. And to be there when
Greg won against Mohamed and then back it up by being the
winner of the U.S. Open, again, was really great months. Camille played her
first junior national championships in 1997 in U12. It’s the year I won it, it was my first national title. She was only playing for a few month and she had to play me first round. I ended up winning 0,0,0!

My last professional match was at the Greenwich Open in 2013 against Sarah Kippax, and it was probably my best match ever so not a bad way to retire. I started to play a bit of hardball doubles and I really like it. It’s so much fun. I am hoping to join the tour soon, but being in my first year at the school, I wanted to be fully involved in it before starting to play doubles tournaments.

Days off for me are days without squash! I do that every day all week long so when I get a chance I completely unplug. My fiancé and I don’t often have days off at the same time, but if we can we would spend this day together playing some golf or going to a movie and enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant in the evening.

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