Spending most the season at No. 5, junior Will Newnham excelled at the College Squash Association Team Nationals this past weekend.

Coming all the way from Brighton, England, the psychology major was the only UR squash player to sweep all three of his matches at the Nationals and end the season on a five-match winning streak.

His impressive 9-2 record in the season earned him a spot at the CSA Individual Nationalsfrom March 5-7 at Trinity College.

With another season left in the his college squash career, Newnham is bound to challenge for one of the top spots on the team next year.

Why did you decide to come to America for college?
For the education and the opportunity to play squash at the same time. In England, there’s not that much opportunity to engage in a sport at a highly competitive level. Here there are big crowds and more money pumped into the sport. There are better players and more international players [here] as well.

Squash looks like hard work; why did you start playing?
My dad always played when I was little. When I was about four years old, I’d go down to the courts with my dad and watch him play squash. Just got going from there at a really young age and started playing a few times a week. I got more into it as I got older.

Do you find that your height is a hindrance to get down low for shots?
Sometimes maybe to get down low. But when it comes to dominating the middle of the court, having a height advantage so you can volley can really help. You can just step across and cut off balls in the middle off the court.

During the season, what’s your practice regimen like?
Probably six times a week in the afternoons, [I] go down to the courts and practice for about two and a half hours, doing drills and conditioning. About once a week we do a beep test as well.

What’s a beep test?
Where you run from one line to the next, about 30 meters apart. You have to make it to the line before the beep [sounds]. The beep gets faster and faster as you go.

Do you find a difference in the way Europeans and Americans play squash?
Maybe. Europeans tend to play the ball up and down the wall.

How do you get prepared mentally for a match?
Most of the time I just put on an iPod and try to relax. I actually find it quite relaxing to listen to high-tempo dance music. It chills me out before the match.

What’s been the highlight of your squash career here?
It’s probably been the past two years, where we’ve gotten through to the semifinals during Nationals.

What’s the one most important thing that has enabled you to be successful at squash?
Probably being disciplined when you really need to be disciplined. Just staying focused, eating well, drinking well and doing lots of physical conditioning.

Growing up in England and now attending college in America, what’s the one part of British culture that you miss the most?
Probably the pub culture. Where I live in Brighton, there are lots of pubs that are homey. There are lots of local people and everyone knows each other, whereas here in Rochester there’s not really that kind of atmosphere.

What are your hopes and expectations for the upcoming Individual Nationals?
Probably to finish as an All-American. To finish top 10 in the nation individually would be really good, but also finishing top 20 wouldn’t be too bad either.

Willis is a member of the class of 2011.

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