• Athletics
Big Red Profile: Isabel Paine '20
Isabel Paine ‘20 and her girls’ varsity squash teammates were recently crowned MAPL champions. Paine has helped the girls’ varsity squash team accrue a host of other victories over the past four years. However, if there’s one thing her Lawrenceville squash career has taught her, it’s that there’s more to athletics than competition.
 
Ashley Duraiswamy: How did you start playing squash?
Isabel Paine: I started playing squash when I was about eight or nine years old at Princeton Junior Squash. I started out with a bunch of bronze tournaments, just kind of learning to play, and then eventually got into silver- and then gold-level tournaments. During middle school and freshman year, I was traveling probably every few weeks to squash tournaments all around the country, and it really taught me a lot about how to be competitive in a good way, how to be a good sport, how to build up mental strength. It kind of built into the person I am today.
 
AD: What was it like to transition from playing squash in middle school to playing squash at Lawrenceville?
IP: [Because] we have Saturday classes, it’s harder to get to tournaments. That was an adjustment—a hard adjustment—for me for a while. But, I started to realize that not everything is about getting to all of the tournaments. You can still have an amazing squash career and do well in the future without going to tournaments and just being a good team member and trying as hard as you can in matches against other schools.
 
AD: When you were an underclassman on the team, did you have any role models?
IP: Yeah, definitely. Virginia Schaus [‘17], Hazel Schaus’ [‘20] older sister, was an inspiring role model to me because she was an amazing sport on court. She was always smiling but, then again, always trying her best no matter what. As well as Abby Dichter [‘18] and Brittany Sun [‘19]. Both were amazing squash players. They put their all into every practice and took the sport seriously but, at the same time, learned a lot from it as well.
 
AD: How else do you think you have developed as a squash player during your four years here?
IP: I came in freshman year with a pretty competitive edge. I thought a lot about winning, hitting the ball as hard as I could, and trying to be an aggressive opponent. Then, during my high school career, my game became a lot more nuanced as I learned how to mix up the pace of the ball and incorporate more shots into my play. I think I’ve diversified my range of shots and become more of a well-rounded, more nuanced player.
 
AD: What is the best piece of advice you have received about squash?
IP: My dad always tells me before every match and every tournament, “Squash is all about the basics.” It’s not about being the best at a trickle boast, a volley drop, or hitting a really good serve. It’s all about sticking with your gut and hitting basic shots. If you hit basic shots enough and if you really try with your heart, then that is enough to win. It’s not about complexity; it’s about giving it your all with the opportunities you’re given.
 
AD: Are there any misconceptions that you think people have about squash?
IP: Definitely that squash is like tennis. Squash is the exact opposite of tennis. You hold the racket differently, the racket is very different, and the footwork is the exact opposite. So squash is its own sport and deserves recognition!
 
Also I think squash, when you’re watching it, [players] can look like they’re gliding across the court or it can look easy. But it’s really, really intense and hard because you’re doing both an endurance sport and a power sport at the same time. You’re lunging and sprinting really quickly but for prolonged periods, which makes it a really hard sport.
 
AD: What do you enjoy most about it?
IP: I think what I enjoy most is first, that it’s a mental game and second, that when you’re on a team, you’re pushing for yourself because your match only depends on you and your ability to push through your opponent, but you’re doing that individual work for your team. It’s a really interesting mix. You’re not passing the ball to each other, you’re not completely relying on each other, but the other team members’ spirit moves on the individual. So that’s my favorite part.
 
AD: How does it feel to be a senior about to leave the team?
IP: It feels really weird. People generally think that winter is one of the worst times of the year, but I can say for most people on our team, winter is our favorite season. [It’s] because [of] just the warmth of going to our family every day, especially our coaches. They’re parents to us, we tell them everything, and they’re just the most amazing role models in the entire world. It’s weird that I’m going to be leaving this family next year. It’s been a good ride, and we’ve had a lot of successes throughout the past four years.
 
For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, Director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.