"SPA"tlight on—Adam Walker
Head Squash Pro, Eastern Athletic Club, Brooklyn, NY
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Sidcup, Kent, in England and as a family we moved around quite a bit. I did most of my growing up in Castle Donington, a small village in Derbyshire and this was where I really started to play squash.
How did you get involved with squash?
I was lucky to have both parents that played and they encouraged both myself and my brother to play so I was never short for people to play with. We would play everyday after school whilst my parents worked—they knew we were not getting into trouble at the club.
Who was your first teacher?
My first proper coach, besides my father, was Bob Lincoln. He was the head coach at Kegworth Squash Club which was also home to Peter Marshall, the player with the best two-handed forehand and backhand shots in the world. He had the patience to coach me even when I didn't have the patience to learn.
Did you play other sports?
Mainly soccer, but squash was my sport—the time and effort to get good at squash doesn't really allow for too many other sports.
Brooklyn Heights is a mecca for Squash in the Northeast, talk about the popularity of the sport in that area.
You're right about Brooklyn Heights, but it's always the Heights Casino that everybody recognizes. When I moved into the Head Pro's position at the Eastern Athletic Club, my goal was to put this great club on the squash map. The sport in this area is at a fever pitch with the four schools I have at the club already; 100-plus kids, and with more looking to get on the scholastic squash bandwagon, there is fantastic job satisfaction to share this game. If there were more courts I know we would attract more schools.
You were at the just completed U.S. Junior Open. What are the biggest changes you have seen with junior squash in the past five years in the US?
The recently completed U.S Junior Open, (that I must say was a great success, thank you U.S. SQUASH), opened my eyes to how the US Junior squash program has grown and is catching up to the rest of the world. There is work to be done, and with the number of good coaches assisting US players that weekend, we are a force to reckon with. This is a sport that requires dedication and commitment, and that is the biggest growth area I have noticed over the past five years. Hence, we are developing outstanding players.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities to grow the game in the states?
As a coach, I would like to see growth in schools, the problem being there are still not enough accessible courts to the general public in very high traffic areas. This sport is growing again after a slight lull and besides the thoughts of playing for a good college team, it is the best workout one can get in 45 minutes and that's good for everybody.
Who is your favorite PSA/WISPA Player to watch compete?
I have have a couple of PSA players I like to watch—Amr Shabana and Nick Matthew, both of whom have very exciting games, and basic games when necessary to regain control of the rally. I love basic, controlled squash; good length and ball control.
Do you still compete?
I still play when I can, but coaching as much as I do my fitness is questionable. But I still love the challenge of the game.
Do you watch other sports?
When I'm not coaching, on the 8th day of the week, I do like to watch March Madness basketball because its normally at the end of squash season.
If you could play any other sport professionally, money aside, what would it be?
The one sport I would like to do, would be something in the motorsport world. I've had a couple of training days up at Lyme Rock race track and loved it—I was also quite good at it.