Interview: 11 Points With Todd Harrity
INTERVIEW by ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
Todd Harrity, the American No.1, bounces back into action in Egypt today after working hard on his game during the lockdown.
Harrity has spent the whole of lockdown in Bristol, England, before a two-month training spell in Egypt. In this interview, he reveals that he has mostly enjoyed the challenge of using the time away from the PSA World Tour to rest his body and work with coach Hadrian Stiff, leader of the Elite Academy, before his trip to Egypt to absorb the secrets of the most dominant nation in the game.
Today, Harrity faces a tough test against England’sAdrian Waller in the first round of the CIB Egyptian Open in Cairo.
We caught up with Todd as he prepared for his return to competitive play for the first time since February.
11 POINTS WITH TODD HARRITY
1: Todd, how are you? You must be looking forward to finally getting back on court playing competitive squash?
A: I am doing well. I am actually back on court very soon as I am playing in the CIB Egyptian Open. It is exciting to finally be back.
2: How have you coped during the long lockdown?
A: I took the lockdown as a chance to relax, have a little break from squash and training, and to pick up some new hobbies. I spent a lot of time reading, watching Netflix, and doing socially distanced outdoor activities once they were permissible. I got pretty handy at tennis and soccer actually.
3: How tough is it to stay motivated and set goals when there is so much uncertainty around everything in life?
A: It is very difficult to deal with all of the uncertainty. It helped that everyone else was in the same position. To keep myself sane I needed to get some exercise every day. And also just set little goals for myself of things I wanted to accomplish. Even if it was just reading for an hour. Also, keeping in touch with friends was very important for me. Having regular phone calls with friends helped to keep me going.
4: Where did you spend lockdown? How do you manage, sharing time between Bristol and the USA?
A: I actually spent the entire lockdown in Bristol. And it ended being a great decision. I love Bristol.
5: You have spent some time in Bristol, working with Hadrian Stiff’s Elite Academy. Please tell us about that partnership.
A: I have been in Bristol for several years now and have been working with Hadrian during that time. It has been great. Hadrian is such a unique individual and coach. He always makes squash fascinating for me. I am not sure exactly when I will return (to Bristol), but I am hoping sometime soon.
6: The PSA World Tour has been allowed to restart, albeit without spectators at the first event in Manchester but with an audience allowed to attend in Cairo. How much have you missing the pro scene?
A: I have missed the tour very much. I think the lockdown was good for me because it made me realise how much I miss it. Having a break from training and competing is nice for a while. But then you actually begin to miss all the nerves and excitement that come from competing. That’s where all the growth happens.
7: What were your thoughts on the PSA World Tour Finals, seeing the victories achieved by Marwan ElShorbagy and Hania El Hammamy?
A: I am so inspired by both of them. I know Marwan well because we lived in Bristol together for a period. He is playing so well at the moment. And seeing Hania doing so well at such a young age is incredible. Both of them have such fighting spirits.
8: Thank you for supporting World Squash Day with your involvement in the Unsquashable Racket Trade-In promotion, with the donated rackets going to good causes. What will you be doing to celebrate World Squash Day?
A: Actually I will be having my first round match at the CIB Egyptian Open. What a way to celebrate! Wish me luck! 🙂
9: Your last PSA outing was a defeat to fellow American Chris Gordon in the Oregon Open in Portland back in February. You’ve had a long time to ponder that result, so can we expect to see a new and improved Todd Harrity when you are back in action in Egypt?
A: I hope so. I have been training hard this past little while and have been really trying to focus on the areas of my game that need the most improvement.
10: You must be looking forward to seeing the new Arlen Spector US National Center being completed and open for play. Will you be spending more time there in the future?
A: I believe so. The Center will be spectacular. I’m very proud to be a part of it.
11: If the Covid-19 pandemic causes a further lockdown, how do you see that impacting on squash?
A: I think squash has done a good job of adapting, as other sports have had to as well. Some events are happening with restrictions to deal with the virus. I am confident that squash will survive anything. There are too many people all over the world that love this sport.
Thank you, Todd. Good luck in Egypt.
Pictures courtesy of PSA and UNSQUASHABLE