Squash player teed up for competition
Alberta Winter Games: Austin Des Mazes training hard for Fort Mac trip
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 06:00 am
An Okotoks athlete has his strategy down to a ‘T’ for the upcoming Alberta Winter Games.
“Squash is highly competitive,” said Okotoks 13-year-old Austin Des Mazes. “The ball is moving so fast and it is always a competition to see who can stay on the ‘T’ to get a better shot to win.”
Des Mazes qualified for Zone 3 (Calgary) in squash for the games in Fort McMurray Feb. 16-19. He wound up playing for the city zone because he plays out of the Mount Royal University Squash Club. As well, squash players are a rare breed in the Foothills area.
People are missing out on a game Des Mazes loves.
“I love the competition and how much movement you have to do on court,” said Des Mazes, a St. John Paul II Collegiate student. “It’s fun to move around and win… people don’t realize how hard it is at all. It’s lots and lots of sprinting. You are always on your toes. You only get a quick break to stop and catch your breath before you have to hit the ball again.”
While the ball doesn’t bounce much -- it squashes -- the velocity comes from the fast-moving and hard-hitting players, who can also give the soft touch on the ball.
The ‘T’ is an intersection of lines a little less than halfway on the floor from the front wall. By positioning oneself on the ‘T’ it allows a player to be just a few steps from the ball regardless of where it is hit.
Des Mazes said a large part of the game is controlling the ‘T’, which is done by getting your opponent off the intersection by hitting the ball in various parts of the court – the four corners.
“My best shot would be a drop, hitting it really low off the front wall,” he said,
He also tries to put the ball in the back corner, as close to the wall as possible.
“You do it for two reasons,” he said. “Your opponent has to move to the ball, which tires him out.
“And the closer the ball is to the wall, the harder it is to get a nice clean shot to the ball.”
Des Mazes was hitting the corners and the having the ball crawling along the walls as he qualified for the Calgary zone in a mini-tournament at the U of C earlier this year.
He thinks he can be competitive at the Games, which will have both a team and individual component.
“I think I can do well,” he said. “In the last few months I have been doing a lot more training and getting better for the games.”
Regardless of the outcome, he will shake hand and live up to the gentlemanly aspect of squash and the Alberta Games.
“If there is a double-bounce on the ball and the ref didn’t see it, you would tell the ref what happened,” he said. “It’s a very gentlemanly game.”