GETTING IN THE SWING
Geff Fisher now coaches aspiring squash players at Courts Royal in Merrifield and at the Regency Club in McLean. Next fall, when three new squash facilities are scheduled to open in the District, he hopes to extend the program to the city. Fisher donates his services, but parents of young players are asked to contribute $25 per season toward court time. Fisher welcomes inquiries from would-be players between eight and 18. Call 433-2986 days, 978-5543 evenings.
When navy officer Geff Fisher was transfered to Washington, he found that the skiing wasn't very good and took up squash. Soon he was playing four nights a week and teaching the game to his four kids. Then the kids across the street wanted to learn.
"It sort of mushroomed," says Fisher, who now teaches the game to 38 budding players between eight and 18 under a program sponsored by the National Capital Squash Racquets Association.
"Under eight, most kids don't have the motor skills necessary for learning to serve so it's frustrating for them," says Fisher. "If I can teach them to serve, I can teach them squash."
"The hardest thing is to serve the ball so it gets up above the red line and back into the right court," confirms Jack Pinnix, eight, of Vienna. Jack is in a large, brightly lit, redstriped white box playing an informal game with Jackie Taylor, 12, of Fairfax, one of a monority of girls in the program. Both confess to initial difficulty in serving but both are sold on squash.
Jack recalls that he got interested in the game through his mother.
"She let me borrow her racquet and I thought it was fun so I stopped playing racquetball and started squash," he says.
Anu (Short for Alexander) Kirk, nine, of Fairfax, who's waiting to play the winner of the Pinnix-Taylor game, also comes from a racquet-wielding family.
"See this warm-up outfit? I got it for Christmas, but my mom borrows it to play racquetball in," he says, adjusting the headband common to squash, racquetball and tennis players. "Squash is easy to learn. I mean the rules are simple, but hitting the different strokes is harder."
In another bright white box, Fisher's reviewing some of the strategic strokes -- like the "boast," the "backward boast" and the "reverse corner" -- with nine-year-old Jimmy Obsitnik of Reston.
"Turn sideways," advises Fisher, as the younger player reaches out with his racquet and misses a shot. "How do you hit a baseball? You were cheating. Turn your body around and then take a shot."
Jimmy is also admonished to bend his knees.
"You can't cheat by making your racquet like the pendulum of a grandfather's clock.
Even if you're a little guy and low to the ground right now, you've got to bend your knees and get down farther."
Then Jimmy wins a point and Fisher approves his strategy.
"That was a good shot! You forced me forward and I hit a weak return."
"These are the youngest kids in the program," explains Fisher, leaving Jimmy to practice with another partner. "Most of them just started this year, but they all play in real tournaments now.In squash, the size of a player isn't a factor. It's not like being tall enough to make a basketball team or the right weight to wrestle. You just have to be quick on your feet and have good relexes."
Why does Fisher spend several hours every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday teaching kids the fine points of squash?
"I enjoy it," says Fisher. "I learned late, but these kids -- they can play for the rest of their lives."