Hanson '13 leading men's squash
Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in the U-19 age group, Chris Hanson '13, the Dartmouth squash team's main man, has been playing the sport for the majority of his life. He picked up his first racket when he was just five years old.
"I used to belong to a rec club and they had two old squash courts," Hanson said. "One day, I just sort of walked in and started playing."
Growing up, Hanson soon dominated the competition in his hometown of Bedford, N.Y., and began participating in nationwide tournaments. Despite the upgrade in competition, he tore through opposing players there as well.
"Around nine or 10, I started winning national tournaments," Hanson said. "I was No. 1 [in the country] for a while."
The competition toughened, however, when Hanson reached his teens and more of his peers began learning the game.
"Most people pick up squash in middle school or early in high school," Hanson said. "I dropped down [in the rankings] a little bit."
While attending St. Luke's High School, Hanson played at a varsity level on both the squash and lacrosse teams. On the squash court, Hanson remained a big fish in a small pond.
"We were good," Hanson said. "It wasn't very challenging for me."
Not surprisingly, Hanson decided to focus on squash in college. He received calls from a number of different coaches inviting him to interviews and campus visits, but he quickly narrowed down his options.
"I only visited Dartmouth and Princeton," Hanson said. "And after talking with the [Dartmouth] coach, I pretty much decided that this was the place for me."
The reasons for his speedy decision, however, were not just related to squash.
"I would say Princeton and Yale have the best teams, but I chose here because it's where I want to go to school," Hanson said. "I liked the campus and the people I met when I visited. It's a good atmosphere. I feel like I fit in here."
Hanson earned his current No. 2 ranking by finishing second at the U.S. Junior Squash National Championships held last March. His only loss came in the finals to Todd Harrity, a freshman at Princeton.
Hanson performed well at the high school level, but after graduation he said he stepped up the intensity of his training in order to have a chance at a high position on Dartmouth's ladder.
"I knew I had a good chance to be No. 1, but I knew I would have to work really hard to do it," Hanson said. "I worked really hard over the summer to make sure I was in really good shape to start the year."
Even after achieving his goal of attaining the top spot on the team as a freshman, Hanson continues to put a great deal of work into his conditioning and court skills. In addition to attending daily team practices, Hanson wakes up for 7 a.m. runs every other day and attends individual training sessions with team coaches on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"I work a lot harder now that I play in college," Hanson said. "Now that I'm No. 1, I work really hard so I can do my best for the team."
The thing Hanson likes most about playing squash at Dartmouth is the team itself.
"It's awesome," Hanson said. "The guys are all buddies. It's been good so far."
Hanson and the rest of the Dartmouth men's team will be facing a great deal of competition this season six of the top eight teams in the country, including No. 8 Dartmouth, are members of the Ivy League.
"That's why I like being here now," Hanson said. "I get to play against the best guys in the country."
This Wednesday at 5 p.m., the team will take on No. 5 Harvard in the Berry Sports Center in a match that will have huge conference title implications. Crucial to Dartmouth's success will be the play of its No. 4 co-captain Michael Shrubb '10, who is attempting to play despite nursing a sprained ankle that he sustained before the start of the season.
"It'll be tough, but I think we have a good chance to win," Hanson said. "We're a lot stronger than they are."