1-on-1 with Michael Mistras '15
This week, I sat down with men's squash player Michael Mistras '15 to discuss his experience with squash and how he is preparing for the upcoming season.
When did you first start playing squash?
MM: I first started playing squash when I was 11. We joined a country club near my house, and they had squash courts, so I decided to try it out, and I liked it. I started playing more when I was 12 or 13 and started playing junior tournaments, and then the rest is history.
How did you decide to come to Dartmouth for squash?
MM: I was looking at most of the Ivies because that's where the good squash teams are, and since there was no squash team at my high school, I wanted the chance to play squash with a team at a competitive level. I had been to Dartmouth a couple times before because we host a junior tournament every year. I really liked the people I had met and liked the campus. Coach Hansi Wiens recruited me, and I decided I wanted to come here.
What is the most challenging aspect of squash?
MM: I think the most challenging aspect is staying focused and maintaining a game plan for every point of every game. Squash matches are quick and can be decided by very few points. You can't ever let your guard down, and I think that's what the top players do best. As many hours as you put into practice, the mental part of the game is always the most important part.
The team has Ivy scrimmages at Yale University in two weeks. What are you doing to prepare for that?
MM: We've been training pretty hard to get ready for the upcoming season. We've had practice every day and have been doing two-a-days on Saturday. Personally, I was working on my fitness leading into our preseason, and we also had a tough captain's practice schedule, so I was feeling good leading into our official practices. Now we are doing much more work with things that will help us specifically for our matches since we're approaching our first real competition against other teams this year. The team has also been playing a lot of challenge matches, and I think match play helps with gaining a competitive edge.
What are the team's goals for the upcoming season?
MM: Our captains had us make a few goals during our training at the beginning of the year so that we would have something specific to focus on and help us improve faster, so everyone on the team has goals both for their performance on the squash court as well as outcome goals for where they want to play on the ladder. Winning as many matches as we can this year is the ultimate goal, so we will make sure to be playing the best we can for every upcoming match.
The team lost six members of the Class of 2012, of which four were starters, including All-American Nick Sisodia '12. How challenging has it been to fill the hole they left?
MM: They definitely left a gap, but we're doing our best to fill it. Losing four seniors that were in our top nine hurts because of how much match experience they had, but the new group of freshmen are playing well and the rest of the team is stepping up and playing well also. We're a lot deeper at the bottom of ladder than we have been in previous years, and I think that will bode well for us during the season. Also, many other teams have lost players as well, so hopefully our team will be playing well and we can move up the rankings.
The team is going on its yearly winter training trip to the Cayman Islands. What are your thoughts on the trip?
MM: The training trip is a great opportunity, and we're very grateful for being able to experience it. The team does an international winter training trip once every four years, so everybody on the team gets to experience it, and I'm excited that this year is ours. We do a lot of training, with two-a-days almost every day. It's great to be able to do that in a place with good weather like the Cayman Islands, as we do a lot of outdoor fitness training as well. The trip itself is a good bonding experience for both the men's and women's teams and starts the season off right.