I hear it several times every year from intermediate tennis players: “I don’t play squash,” they say, “because it screws up my tennis.”
Squash doesn’t seem to have hindered Roger Federer or Andy Murray. Both played it as juniors. Nor does it seem to be bothering Raphael Nadal, who started playing squash last year.
In fact, a recent article in the Times is crediting squash as the source of a new shot for tennis: the wrist hinge.
The wrist hinge, writes Owen Slot “is played off the forehand, wide out on the stretch, in an attempt to reach an out-spinning serve or, more likely, a cross-court drive.”
None other than Roger Federer played a wrist hinge shot in a French Open semi-final in 2006. He won the point and later credited his squash training for inspiring it.
Every good tennis player knows that there are two shot groups in tennis. There are those that you find in the text book and those that you find on the court.
Some of the most frustrating tennis players you will ever meet are wintertime squash players. They are hard to play precisely because they are hard to read.
Just ask anybody who has ever played Racquet Network legend Mark Pacanowski. Ten minutes after you start a match with him you are using words that have no place on a tennis court.
Why? Because Fu-Pac (short for FU**ING PACANOWSKI!! — because that’s what his opponents mutter after losing to him) plays a hybrid style of tennis that combines shots from tennis, squash, racquetball and table tennis.
It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. In fact, I would call it “pushing” of the highest order. By combining strokes from many racquet sports, Fu-Pac is able to defeat players who are much better tennis players than he will ever be.
Of course, I don’t advocate this. As a squash instructor, I don’t want to see my squash students playing tennis on a squash court. It’s too dangerous.
Nor as a tennis instructor, would I want to see my tennis students playing squash on a tennis court. In most cases, it would be a complete waste of time.
But I will allow the main proposition of this article, which is this: playing squash over the winter break will not hurt your tennis game. In fact, I believe that doing so will make you a better tennis player in the long run.
At the very least, playing squash over the winter will improve your fitness and allow you to start the outdoor tennis season in better shape.
At the very most, it will give you some creative options to consider when you find yourself having to return an out-spinning serve or a cross-court drive at the French Open.