New Head of Squash and Racketball Chris Dawson is looking forward to bringing all his experience to Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club with the aim of building up more participation in both sports.
Chris officially takes up his new position next week, but he has already paid several visits to the club in preparation and met with the other coaches and staff.
He is excited about what lies ahead in his new role which will include putting together a strong programme of coaching and trying to bring through the next generation of squash and racketball players.
“I think enthusiasm can play a really big part in sport,” says Chris, pictured being welcomed to WLTSC by Operations Manager Marc Hughes.
“If someone has that enthusiasm and determination then they will always improve with the work that takes place on court.
“I have seen already that there are so many good people here at the club, and the right people, to make it all work.
“All the tools are there, with trained and qualified staff, to make a positive difference and hopefully get more and more people on court.”
Chris first started playing squash at a club in Edinburgh at the age of 13, entering competitions across Scotland, and later going on to captain the first team at Aberdeen University.
But while he has been playing squash for over 30 years, he only recently took up coaching -his most recent position at a fitness club in Thornton Cleveleys – having previously enjoyed a different working career initially in the food industry and then the haulage industry.
Those different life experiences have undoubtedly helped with people skills as Chris embarked on a career for which he has so much passion.
“It was only recently that I really thought about coaching and I took my Level One qualification and then an opportunity came up,” he explains.
“I went on to complete my Level Two Squash & Racketball and I’m now looking to begin my Level Three this September.
“In my previous role I have been coaching juniors and adults of all ages and abilities, and I really took to it.
“I love squash and racket sports so much that it all comes naturally to me and my passion for the sport can really come out.
“With the way I coach, I work a lot on routines and conditioned games.
“When you are feeding someone from the back of the court, I think it is relatively easy to play a shot.
“But when people have to play the same shots under pressure, it is a different ball game.
“Squash and racketball are sports which rely so much on movement, and so it is very important to move to the ball in the right way, whatever shot you play.
“I find that routines and conditioned games really help players improve.”
Chris has also coached the mens’ and women’s squash teams at Lancaster University, and is now keen to try and build up the interest in squash and racketball, especially among the club’s younger members.
“What it is all about is trying to get juniors and adults on court, trying different things,” he explains.
“I’m sure they will then enjoy it and come back for more.
“Once you learn something new – a shot or technique – it will spur you on.
“A lot of juniors will see tennis on the television because there is a lot of coverage, but there isn’t the same degree of coverage of squash or racketball, so it is more difficult to get them interested.
“Hopefully we can educate people about the concept of squash and racketball and the benefits of playing.
“Squash burns the most calories of any sport out there so it couldn’t be a better workout.
“It is also great for cardio, and is a challenging sport because there is so much to it.
“I think there is something for everyone if they’re willing to give it a go.
“You can hit the ball as hard as you like, you can slow the ball down, you can play angles and you can take the ball early to give your opponent less time.
“And that’s just for starters.
“Squash and racketball help keep the mind active.
“A thinking player will find their opponent’s weakness and exploit it. If that happens, it’s up to you to find theirs.”
“It is a great and exciting challenge for me here at WLTSC and one I am really looking forward to.”
Chris will be assisted at WLTSC by existing åcoaches Darren Lewis and Andy Hepworth, as well as WLTSC’s fantastic volunteers, and will also oversee the coaching provision with Tettenhall College and be involved with the new link-up with the University of Wolverhampton.
*For more details about squash and racketball at WLTSC contact Chris on (07884) 133775.