Meet the State Graders

💪💪💪 Continuing with our ‘Meet the State Graders’ series, we are excited to introduce another two of the gentlemen who are competing in the state’s highest level competition.  This week we spoke to Matt Sanders and Christiaan Haseldonckx, both of whom hail from Cambridge Squash Club!

While Matt is a Perth boy, born and bred, Christiaan relocated to Perth from Belgium in 2008.

We asked them how they first got into squash.  Matt shared, “my whole family played squash, my parents actually met at a squash centre! My Dad (Peter Sanders) played as a no. 1 in A Grade here in Perth back in the 70s, so I grew up around squash courts with my two older brothers”.  While Matt was playing squash as soon as he could walk, Christiaan first got into squash at the age of 10 when he tagged along with his father and uncle.  “I would pick up that heavy wooden racket with its slippery towel textured grip in between their games, and try to hit the ball to the front wall without clipping the floor”, Christiaan reminisced.  A few years later, at the age of 14 years, Christiaan started to play in a club environment and hasn’t stopped since.  “The game is just addictive!” he shared.

What does a typical week look like for Matt and Christiaan?  Well Matt has a very full schedule, playing competitive squash and cricket, as well as cardio, strength and yoga sessions. He also has 3 ice baths (about 5 minutes each) and the odd massage if he gets a bit sore.  Christiaan plays pennants two nights a week, as well as one training session.  Further to this Christiaan also volunteers his time at the junior program at Leeming which operates on Friday afternoons.

We asked Matt and Christiaan what they love most about squash.  Matt shared, “it’s just something I’ve always done – it’s never been something I’ve ever really chosen based on my love of the sport. I have loved the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had (like getting to captain the Australian junior team and spending a couple of years at the Australian Institute of Sport). Now that I’m older, I love the physicality of the sport – that it doesn’t allow you to get away with being lazy – you need to be fit and strong to win in State Grade, which is a big motivation to train”.  Christiaan reflected, “Squash is just such a unique game with its extremely fast pace in a confined space, making the court appear bigger for your opponent as the ultimate goal. I love that squash is both such a great physical challenge as it is a mental chess game.  You also can’t deny the social aspect of playing squash and the friendships it creates!”

Finally, we asked what advice they would impart on any junior currently travelling along the development pathway.  Matt encourages juniors to, “work on the key foundations of your technique and game. There are always one or two (or sometimes more) things that will hold you back from reaching the next level. They may not be impacting you now, but they will. So get a coach (or coaches) that can identify what those things are, and work on them”.  Christiaan feels that, “the most important thing for young players is to have fun most of all.  Enjoy the feeling of the ball hitting that sweet spot of the racket, and the rest will follow. The best teacher I have found are your eyes – observing and analysing the higher ranked players is a great source for progressing your own game”.

Such great advice!! ❤️

Thank you so much for your time gentlemen!

With the Autumn season now coming to an end, we hope you’ve enjoyed the ‘Meet the State Graders’ series so far.  The Preliminary Final will be taking place from 7pm on Thursday 20 April, followed by the Grand Final on 27 April, both at Squash WA HQ in Belmont.  Spectators and cheer squads all welcome – see you there!!   

#stategrade #pennantsquash #meetthefamily

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