"SPA"tlight on—Lauren Doline
Squash Professional, Yale Club NYC
How old were you when you first picked up a squash racquet?
I was 12 years old at a clinic with Mark Talbott as an introduction to squash at The Chatham Club in Chatham, NJ. Little did I know, six years later I would be playing on a 2-time National and Ivy League Championship winning team with Mark as my coach.
Who was your first teacher?
My first teacher was Geoff Mitchell at The Chatham Club in Chatham, NJ. He instilled in me a passion for the game of squash and the importance of good sportsmanship at all times. His patience, great attitude and mentorship make him a natural working with kids and gave me a life-passion for the sport. Throughout my coaching career, my objective has always been to do my best to encourage my students to feel about squash as I do.
How was your junior squash experience?
I attended an all-girls high school and they did not have a squash team. To make up for the lack of matches I would have gotten through a school team, I played in over a dozen tournaments every season to get as much match play as possible. I participated in junior clinics, had private or semi-private lessons with Geoff at the club, set up matches with men and women from the club, and put in tremendous hours of solo work. My parents were extremely supportive and drove me weekend after weekend to tournaments. From the beginning, the drive to play and compete came from within me and that continues even today. It was inevitable that I would continue to play the sport in college and ultimately make it my life's work.
Did you play other sports?
I played softball in the spring season for my high school team and was voted for the All State team. For the other seasons, I played squash out of school as my primary sport and participated in mandatory gym class for fall and winter seasons. I was badminton champion in gym class all four years of high school, winning tournaments against students and faculty.
What did you enjoy most about your college squash experience?
The question would be more: What did I not enjoy? I played varsity squash all four years at Yale University, where we won two back to back Ivy, National and Howe Cup Championships in 2004 and 2005. I was privileged to have the honor to work with Mark Talbott for my first three years and Dave Talbott for my senior year. Our team challenge matches were always exciting and some of my best matches of the season would be competing against my teammates. Having so many courts at Yale allowed for the Men's and Women's teams to practice at the same time, and having Mark and Dave running the show made practice the best part of the day.
Our teams were small, ranging from 12 to 15 players depending on the year so we had such a dynamic, unique bond. I was so lucky to be a part of such a supportive group of squash players and we enjoyed watching each other improve and achieve throughout our careers. I was surrounded by a group of women who were not only champions and amazing athletes, but also amazing people.
Do you still play competitively?
Since graduating from Yale in 2005, I have played in local club tournaments, league matches, and nationally in professional doubles tournaments through WDSA. Currently, I am more interested in helping to grow the game and help others become passionate about the sport and improve their skills.
Do you use what you learned from your coaches and apply it to your lessons?
Obviously, all of my coaches taught me the technical skills necessary to become an excellent coach. For example, footwork, stroke work, tactical strategy, workout regimen... these things are a given. Just as significantly, through my relationships with them over the years, I learned the proper way to comport myself on the court, to always play with sportsmanship, and to always give 100% on the hardwood.
Describe women's squash in NYC?
Women's squash has a great presence in New York City that continues to grow. Here at the Yale Club and around NYC, more and more women are learning the game, meeting and introducing others to the game, building up programs, and creating women's events.
Singles or Doubles?
Who do you look at as the teaching pro you would most like to emulate?
There are many teaching pros I have worked with whom I make an effort to emulate. I would specifically like to thank and recognize Geoff Mitchell, Sharon Bradey, Mark Talbott, Dave Talbott, Gareth Webber, Mike Way, Mark Allen, Narelle Krizek, and Richard Elliott. These coaches have the ability to get the best out of the students they are working with no matter their skill level. They are willing to put in time over and above what is needed to help the student succeed, and to provide unwavering support.