Writer: Juin Shiong
Editor: Pearly Neo
As this year’s Inter-Hall Games draws to a close, KE Press would like to present to you a mini-series of interviews with the captains of some featured sports this year. The first sport in the limelight: Squash!
Many of you are probably already familiar with Daniel Wong, the captain of the KE’s Men’s Squash Team (which did a very commendable job of making it all the way to the semi-finals this year). But who is the real Daniel behind the highly successful athlete? We catch up with Daniel for a few quick words and to find out his insights about squash, life, and more squash!
KEPress: Congrats on reaching semi-finals and giving our opponents a run for the gold this
Daniel: Thank you. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the people who were involved. These would be my Vice-Captain Wee Lee and the rest of the team, Benjamin Tham, Christopher Tham, Soh Kwan Rong, Mitchell, Akhilesh and Adriel. Next would be our female Squash Team, especially the female captain Yong Yu Wei who also happens to be our No. 1 fan and was at all our matches. Also, I would like to thank the Welfare Committee for always being there with both food and drinks, especially Bee, Xing Huan and Fenix who were attached to the Squash Team. Also the convening committee, who had a particularly hard time with all the administrative work, particularly Sharlyn, Jerusha, Siying and our Liasing Officer, SK Wee. Another important group of people were all the KE supporters who went down to support us on their own time. My tennis doubles partner, Weiqing, Musa and Kar Yee, all of GH block; Fang Ming and Zhong Yun from my floor in CD. Its hard to name everyone who came and I apologize if I left anyone out. Last but not least were the KE Press reporters Lin Hui and Adrian, who impressed me with their professionalism and who also doubled up as supporters.
KEPress: What were your expectations for squash in IHG this year? Did you feel that you
have met them?
Daniel: In all honesty (and hopefully modesty!), I was hoping to retain the gold this year (Fun fact: KE Squash Team were the defending champions!). And seeing that we did not win the championship, I would say that I have not met my target.
KEPress: Wow, that means your opponents for IHG must have been tougher this year!
Daniel: Definitely! Our opponents this year were a level up from last year’s opponents. Most notably were Eusoff Hall, who won the Championship in the end , though they were last in the competition previously. I personally know 3 of their new team members: Melvin, my junior who has been playing since he was 13, Bing Ren, who played with me while I was serving NS (Fun fact: Daniel was from the Artillery Formation!), and their top seed Stanley, who has also been playing since he was 13. I also must comment that the Eusoff captain, Chen Ping, did a brilliant job in guiding his team to the Championship.
The Sheares Captain for the previous year, Tian Long, an IVP and a teammate during my Secondary school years, also went over to Raffles. This meant that Raffles also posted a strong team this year.
Kent Ridge had a returning player from Student Exchange Programme, Marc, who was also a Singapore Davis Cup Player for Tennis and also had a strong orthodox Squash player in their captain, Shi Qian.
Sheares’ new captain, Joseph, who goes to the same church as me, also had 2 years of playing experience together with a few of the Sheares players at College level.
Temasek Hall had the top 2 players in the tournament, Sean and Chong Guan. This was together with Byron, their sports secretary who was my teammate in secondary school, Fang Hong, an IVP, and Li Hong who was my junior when I was playing squash for college.
Yes, I would say that our opponents this year are definitely stronger as compared to last year. Especially Temasek Hall and Eusoff.
KEPress: So, I guess you’ve also been playing squash since you were… 13?
KEPress: Wow, that’s close to 10 years of experience you have under your belt! Do you still
Daniel: Well, as of now, not often.
KEPress: How are you able to juggle both competitive squash and your studies?
Daniel: To be frank, the only competitive Squash that I do play in is the IHG and that is if you consider the IHG as “competitive”. I used to be an IVP, but I quit the team this semester. For me, hall training is much more flexible at 2 times a week, 2 hours each time.
KEPress: What did you do personally to train for IHG? How are trainings like?
Daniel: I would think that squash is all about fitness, about how long you can run. Luckily for me, I joined the Pencak Silat team in NUS last semester. Training was exceptionally tiring, particularly because it is combat sparring. Just prior to IHG there was a Pencak Silat friendly in Batam, which the coach took extremely seriously; his discipline with us was the main reason for my fitness at IHG. Speaking of training, credit must be given to Goh Wee Lee, my vice-captain who conducted IHG Squash training in my absence! Regarding training, a normal training session conducted by me closer to the IHG season would comprise of more basic drills like straight drives, practicing service and footwork drills. Cardio training would comprise of running court sprints- these are short-burst runs which are the length of the Squash court, 5 sets of 1 minutes 20 repetitions each time. Oh, and we trained thrice a week just before the IHG season.
KEPress: Wow, that’s intense! Why did you join squash?
Daniel: No particular reason. I’d like to think of it as fate.
KEPress: And what are the features of the game that attract you and keep you going?
Daniel: Well, I believe it gives you a moderate to high cardio workout which keeps you healthy. Also you can play it by yourself if need be.
KEPress: Any favourite squash player?
Daniel: No particularly favorite. I like to watch different playing styles.
KEPress: What do you do when you’re not in the court trashing your opponents or
Daniel: (Laughs) You make me out to be something that I am not! I do not trash my opponents partly because I am not that great a player. My best shots are my drives, and that seldom produces winners in a game. Most of my points I win are either because my opponent made a mistake or ran out of stamina. But back to the original question- in my spare time, I give tuition, hit the gym, watch movies, pretty much what anyone else would do in their free time!
KEPress: It’s great to see that you are able to find time to relax even though your schedule
is probably full! Lastly, any tips you would offer for those in hall picking up the
sport or joining squash?
Daniel: Be patient.
A lot of beginners go in with the mentality that to be good you must be hitting hard. They end up with many bad habits, for example, exaggerated swings, poor footwork, too much wrist work, and the list goes on. Personally I believe Squash is a lot of footwork. Good footwork takes you to places faster than your opponents, gives you space for a smooth swing so that you can mask your play, reduces the amount of stamina you need to maintain a high level game and basically make the game so much easier for yourself.
KEPress: Wonderful words of wisdom! Thank you so much for your time, Daniel!