Senior Spring: Alvin Heumann ’18 plans to go professional
Four years and countless matches later, Alvin Heumann ’18 has reached the end of his incredible career with Dartmouth squash. Having been named to the All-Ivy First Team for his final two seasons, to the College Squash Association All-American team and as the Harrow Squash Player of the Week, Heumann has dominated the courts and been a cornerstone member of the squash team.
Between baseball, soccer and squash and his love for hiking, biking and running, sports and the outdoors were an integral part of Heumannʼs life growing up. Heumann played squash for the first time in fourth grade at a local gym in his hometown of Southport, Connecticut. He took his first lessons with Brett Martin, who was the former world No. 2, but then moved to Barcelona for two years with his family. After he developed elbow tendonitis in eighth grade, he retired from his career as a baseball pitcher and picked up his racquet once again.
“I just couldnʼt pitch anymore, and Iʼd been going to the gym regularly to exercise and work out and never really taking advantage of the squash courts,” Heumann said. “I went down having played a few lessons a few years before and started playing and fell in love with the game.”
Alvin’s mother, Louisa Heumann, noted just how much Alvin Heumann loved the game.
“[Alvin Heumann] could walk [to the squash courts] on his own after school to practice and observe other players,” Louisa Heumann said. “He grew to love the game.”
While Alvin was also a skilled soccer player after playing frequently during his time in Barcelona, he suffered several head injuries while playing for Westminster Soccer and knew he would not continue playing in college.
During his sophomore year of high school, Heumann realized that he wanted to continue playing squash in college after his first few years at Green Farms Academy.
“Their squash program was really bad, and I was playing number one for the team and didnʼt have much competition,” Heumann said. “I was realizing how much I loved to play the sport and simultaneously realizing that I wasnʼt going to get much better at Green Farms.”
After talking with several friends and Westminster Schoolʼs head squash coach Peter Doucette, he decided to transfer for his junior year and play for the Martlets in Simsbury, Connecticut. From there, things took off. During his junior summer, Alvin attended a squash camp with Dartmouthʼs coaching staff. Heumann noted that while he had never been to Hanover, he really liked the area and the community.
“I immediately developed a really good relationship with the head coach, Hansi Wiens,” Heumann said. “In squash, being the small community that it is, I already knew a few of the guys on the team, so I was comfortable joining their program.”
His mother was supportive of him pursuing the sport at the next level.
“College squash is highly competitive,” Louisa Heumann said. “There were bound to be excellent opportunities [for him] to compete against the best amateur players in the world.”
In his final season with the Big Green, Heumann ended his career with a winning record, both as an individual and for the team overall.
“This season was just full of the nail biters,” Heumann said. “I think we won every single 5-4 match this season with the exception of one. The best part about that was it never coming down to the same person in any of the matches; it was consistently someone else clinching the last match, proving to the rest of the team how gritty and resilient they were.”
This past season, the team went 13-5 overall and 4-3 in their conference, ranking them fifth in the nation. Heumann himself finished 11-7 overall in the No. 1 spot for a 61.1 percent win percentage. He was one of two Dartmouth squash players to compete in the College Squash Association Individual Championships at the beginning of March, but lost in the second round against Harvard University’s David Ryan, who went on to be named the national champion. Despite this loss, Heumann was still optimistic looking back at the team’s performance.
“Thereʼs nothing that feels better than, you know, being part of something bigger than yourself, especially this past season,” Heumann said. “You know, having the success that we had as a team, sharing that with guys who you just love, that was just so special to me.”
Over the course of four seasons, Heumannʼs record has steadily improved. In his freshman year, Heumann played in No. 1, 2 and 3 spots and was 2-7 in the No. 1 spot; sophomore year, he competed in the No. 1 and 2 positions and was 7-4 in No. 1; and junior year, he played exclusively in the No. 1 spot and went 9-8.
“Coming in to Dartmouth, I think my squash game was heavily reliant on my speed and strength on the court, and I didnʼt focus much on technical game,” Heumann said. “I think I definitely recognized that and really worked toward improving that after my sophomore season. I started working a lot with Hansi before and after regular practices on my technique and my stroke. I think Iʼve definitely evolved over time to make my racquet skills a strength of mine.”
Heumann’s dedication to the game has been noticed by his teammates, including Brian Giegerich ’18, who has been playing with him since freshman year.
“[Heumann is] totally willing to go that extra mile and put in that extra effort, even when no one’s watching and no one knows about it,” Giegarich said. “[Heumann will] often go in early and play with our coach or hit solo by himself.”
Giegerich added that this extra work made Heumann a perfect fit for a team captain role.
“He has done so much for the program, always putting in that extra work,” Giegerich said. “[Heumann]’s a great competitor and sets a good example for the younger guys. He [is] very good about making all the freshmen and underclassmen feel welcome on the team.”
Wiens, who has held the head coaching position for nine years and was previously ranked as high as eighth in the world, played a key role in Heumannʼs development as a player while at Dartmouth.
“I think Coach Wiens really taught me the importance of attention to detail and focus,” Heumann said. “My freshman and sophomore years [were] very much sort of athleticism-based [rather than] a more technical- focus game, so I really respect and appreciate him for sort of honing and developing those skills in me.”
After watching her son play for the Big Green, Heumann’s mother reflected on two of her proudest and most exciting moments from his squash career here in Hanover.
“Two moments come to mind,” she said. “First, witnessing Alvin’s ability to contain his anger at losses or mistakes. Two, winning the tough, five game match at Nationals this year to clinch Dartmouth’s No. 5 ranking.”
Outside of his busy squash schedule, Heumann is the house manager at Psi Upsilon fraternity and writes for the Dartmouth Business Journal. Heumann is also a co-owner of Vox Sportswear with a handful of other Dartmouth seniors.
“[Vox Sportswear] was something I really enjoyed, and it taught me how to market a product and run a business from an organizational, marketing and finance perspective,” Heumann said.
After Dartmouth, Heumann will be continuing his squash career professionally and spending his summer preparing to join the tour after.
“Iʼve been working with [Wiens] a bit this spring, mostly on a technical level, and Iʼm planning on training a bit this summer with a Dartmouth squash alum and current professional player Chris Hanson ['13],” Heumann said. “Iʼm also planning on attending the U.S. Squash Academy in Connecticut, where they’ve invited some professional college players too.”
Until then, he will be enjoying his final two months in Hanover with his friends and taking advantage of the spring weather and opportunities he has not been able to before.
“My friends and my teammates, and especially the guys on the team, have just been really supportive of me and everyone else on the team throughout our careers, so I really thank them for that,” he said.
Correction Appended (April 9, 2018):
This article has been updated to feature the proper spelling of Chris Hanson '13's last name and his class year.