By John Bernstein
With teammates hailing from as far as El Salvador, England, Finland and Peru, just to name a few, Swiss Benjamin (“Benji”) Fischer is only one of many UR squash players to come from abroad.
Yet while a great distance from home, Fischer has shown no signs of a diminished level of play since arriving in the States. The junior co-captain earned All-American honors while leading the Yellowjackets to a national ranking of No. 4 last year.
On Saturday, Jan. 22, Fischer, UR’s top-ranked player, defeated Yale’s best man in five sets.
Why did you decide to attend a school in the United States?
I’ve always had the desire to study in a foreign country, and the United States has always attracted my attention. The way I can combine a first-class education with continuing to play a high level of squash is fantastic and very unique.
Of all the schools in the US you could have chosen to attend, why UR?
I had first heard of the University of Rochester when I was training with the Head Coach’s brother, David Heath, who, at the time, lived in Switzerland. I found out that it was a high-ranked school with a very promising squash team, which seemed to be the perfect fit.
What’s it like playing for a team with athletes who come from all over the world?
It’s fantastic. When I first arrived here, I already had a group of people I belonged to, even though I didn’t know anyone. The fact that the majority of the players are foreign makes it so much easier to fit in and it ties everyone much closer together.
Your team has been considered one of the best in the nation for a number of years now. How do you guys deal with the tremendously high expectations the squash world sets before you each match?
We are all training very hard, with the goal of becoming national champions. As long as we keep doing that and make ourselves as tough to beat as possible, the pressure is on everybody else.
Your team recently suffered its first loss of the season to Yale. Did the team take anything from the loss that can be used moving forward?
Yale was our first big match of the season, and we were lacking a bit of match practice. As the season continues, we will become more competitive and stronger with every match that we play.
Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
I try to get away from superstitions, as I feel it impairs me more than anything. What has become much more important to me before a game is to have the right mindset: stay focused on the way I want to play and how I’m going to succeed.
Is there any particular moment during your squash career that stands out as a high point in your mind?
Reaching the semifinals at Nationals in 2009 was a big moment for the UR squash team. I had only just arrived in the States at that time and didn’t know much about college squash. That is when I realized how big a deal it is here, and how enjoyable it is. Thus, I became even more motivated to reach the very top with my team.
As a captain and vital member to the team, what are your personal goals and hopes for the team this season?
Our goal is to win the national title. Anything else would not be worth working hard for for a team in our position. My personal goal is to win all my matches on the position I’m playing on, and, as a co-captain, keep the guys motivated and focused on our goal and our potential.
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.