Mitch Reese likes to come off as someone who doesn't care too much about squash, who doesn't put in his time That's a bunch of malarkey"-Harvard squash Co-captain Chip Robie
The time was two weeks ago Men's Squash Co-Captain and defending All-American Mitch Reese had taken the bus down to New Haven with his teammates on a cloudy morning to play a dual match against Yale By 3 00 in the afternoon, everyone on the team has won his match Everyone, that is, except Reese.
Reese is on the court playing herky-jerky, uninspiring squash against a freshman with a slightly pompous manner and the thoroughly aristocratic name of Julian Benello. Our hero hits one good shot, only to follow it with three despicable plays and a good deal of shuffling around the court and mumbling. Benello wins the first game.
But all of a sudden. Reese ignities. Zap. He's hit one too many balls into the tin, and he's completely fed up. No way is this arrogant, snotty kid going to beat him. He screws up his forehead in fury, his eyes flame, his face turns beet red. Not particularly fast, he somehow starts to run down every shot. Not smooth or aesthetically appealing to watch, he somehow knocks shots just out of Benello's reach. By the time Reese has racked up the next three games, his opponent has fled the court and charged through the crowd of spectators with a loud "shit." He was sure he had lost to a worse player.
Every time Reese takes the court, virtually the same scene is repeated. You can call him a hustler, but Reese says. "That's just the way I play. Sometimes I move more slowly than I have to, sometimes I try to look more tired than I really am..
"Squash is like playing chess: you try to mess with the guy's head so much he doesn't have any idea where your next shot is going. It's fun...and it devastates them---you can see it on their face. I get a kick out of going out and beating someone who by all physical rights should beat me."
Because of his, shall we say, lack of dominating physical attributers. Reese's street-fighting style comes, to some degree, from necessity. (Don't make the mistake, however, of thinking he's some kind of athletic retard) A great deal of his motivation also comes from his natural competitiveness. But he has shaped his squash game into one of scrappiness and guile because of some very basic feelings about the direction in which be thinks collegiate squash is moving.
That direction is away from the countrclub and prep schools that fostered the game, and prep schools that fostered the game, and towards the early training and specialization now characteristic of almost every sport.
"The whole nature of the game has changed," Reese says, "and I have mixed feelings about how it's changed. In the old days they worked at it like I work at my golf game in the summer. Now we have organized practices and assigned pairings every day."
Partly out of rebellion and partly out of personal style, Reese refuses to follow his sport to the realm of scientific precision. He is a noted non-practicer who doesn't believe in conditioning--it's only his competitiveness that gets him through.
"I would consider myself old school. I try to approach it that way. The squash players coming up play only squash; for a guy like me, it wouldn't have been worth it. It's only a sport. I don't have a plaque for best grades on campus, or an award for most friends in the school, but I've done a lot of things I really enjoy."
"Squash is the most important thing in Chip's life as far as I can tell." --Harvard squash Co-Captain Mitch Reese
When Chip Robie arrived at Harvard from Choate, he brought a huge squash swing and very brisk drives. But he had little conception of what he was doing on the squash court except that he was hitting hard.
"Dave [Harvard squash coach Dave fish] looked at me," Robie remembers, "changed my swing, and taught me what seemed like a million new things about squash After throwing the kitchen sink at me, he let me digest it, and four years later I'm playing great squash.