Aaron Frankcomb: This is a great question...Now that I am not a professional squash player, I have been putting my coaching clients first.....not my competitive squash. I absolutely still love competing, but this was something I had accepted when I decided to step off the tour 6 years ago. When I was a professional player, I followed a rigid preparation schedule:
- 3 weeks out (or as early as possible), I would determine who were the possible people I could be playing in the draw (or the actual opponent if it was released!), then watch them on PSA/SquashTV/YouTube two or three times to hone in on and determine their strengths and weaknesses. Then I would strategize and write out a game plan for myself that would also work into my own strengths while playing into those weaknesses
- 2 weeks prior to the event I would have increased my match play sessions to 4-5 per week out of my usual 13 sessions per week
- Then a week and a half before the event I would have tapered my training sessions down to give my body a prep
- The week of the event, I would make sure to see my physio and get a massage
- During hitting sessions the week of the event, I would go on court with sole goal of feeling confident, happy, and relaxed. No technical changes at all! They would generally just be coach feeding sessions, solos, and light routines with hitting partners. I would focus on the intent of my targets for all of the shots around the court to make sure I felt good. These were repeated exercises to work on the execution of each shot, one at a time.
- Two days before my first match of the event was a day off
- The day prior to my match I would do light routines and solo, then finish with one hard game, to give my body a quick shock to be ready for the physical exertion of the event. I would also get used to the environment, venue, and the court conditions.
Team ECSA: What types of players did you encounter over the weekend?
AF: My first round was against Jaszon Chung. He is a runner who is quick on court and retrieves everything, making him also good at counter-attacking. In the second round, the semi-final, I played Nick Janicaud, who I have worked with and played against several times. We know each others games very well which definitely adds another dimension to the match. Nick hits the ball very hard and keeps the game moving at a very fast pace. Lastly, I played Simon Carruthers in the final! His game is much more like a shot-makers; he can move the ball around the court very accurately to make his opponents physically exhausted.
Team ECSA: How do you play against these styles?
AF: Against Jaszon, I needed to make sure to keep him moving and try to keep him running to get him out of position. I utilized a counter-attack to try to emphasize this point. Against Nick, I tried to mix the pace of the ball as much as I could, to try to gain ownership of the pace the game was played at, instead of trying to keep up with his hard hitting and fast pace. Versus Simon, I needed to make sure to use my physicality as an asset to counter-attack his shots. It was a lot of hard work (and always is against a shot maker!) to stay in the rally. I had to make sure I retrieved everything, while also hitting accurately and with pace to keep him moving and under pressure. I was hoping to get him under as much pressure as I could, since I figure from pressured positions it is harder to make those winning shots.
Team ECSA: What was the tournament atmosphere like?
AF: It was fantasic! We had a full crowd at the back of the court for the final and many players hung around all weekend, which always gives a great tournament atmosphere. Jason M has been having record numbers at his events this year so far and it just really adds another level to the events! He does a fantastic job on the Sydney squash scene. I had so much fun and I am very excited to have claimed the Next Gen Open 2017 title this year! Thanks to Next Gen and Jason and all of the people who helped run and support this event.