Men’s squash | Advani, Schweitzer form unlikely duo on and off court
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 08:02
Sophomore Aditya Advani and junior Zachary Schweitzer are more than the No. 1 and No. 2 players of the men’s squash team. While their relationship began on the courts, it has grown into a strong friendship away from the game.
Schweitzer grew up playing squash in southeast Pennsylvania. Coming to Tufts wasn’t a big culture shock, but freshman year, when he learned he would have a teammate from India, he said he got a little nervous. But before Advani arrived to campus, Schweitzer said he prepared to take Advani under his wing.
“I would get a lot of emails from him, telling me about how worried he was,” Schweitzer said, with Advani sitting next to him. “He was really nervous and would email me a lot. But I knew that it was my duty to make sure he adjusted well. His lifestyle in India was much different than the one here in the States, and I wanted to teach him.”
One of these differences was the way that squash players train in New Delhi compared to American squash players. Advani said Americans are much fitter athletes than those in India. There, the majority of players focus on technique and mental fortitude.
“I started off as a really fat kid, which is why I learned how to shoot a lot more than anything else,” Advani said. “When I got here it was very different because everyone here likes to play a very basic, fitness-orientated game. It didn’t really go well for me [at first]. Zach showed me the ropes.”
“Aditya plays a slow-paced shooters game, as you say in squash, and I’m a high-tempo, fitness-oriented player,” Schweitzer added.
Schweitzer said that once they met it was apparent that technique was not the only factor that distinguished the two.
“There was a real clash when we met each other,” Schweitzer said. “When we first met we were kind of at odds, something like David and Goliath with the young freshmen coming in from India and me, the boisterous rock of the team.”
Schweitzer, one of the co-captains of the team, also had a different leadership style than Advani. “I was abroad last semester so my co-captain, Elliot Kardon, was taking over the ropes,” Schweitzer said. “Aditya coming in can be sometimes a little lazy on court, but what he lacks in energy he really makes up for in heart.”
When asked what it takes to be a good leader, Schweitzer said that it is all about promoting good chemistry on the team and creating opportunities for players to think about the state of the team. Though Advani is more of a silent leader, Schweitzer said he believes Advani has what it takes to lead when Schweitzer graduates next year.
“Being a leader is about promoting chemistry on the team and a lot of the time that comes from being together a lot, and so I like to have us all, even if we’re not doing anything, sitting in a room thinking about what has been going on — sort of like a Quaker meeting type of thing,” Schweitzer said.
As Advani and Schweitzer grew to understand each other, they have become more in sync on and off the court. They even joined the same fraternity, Zeta Psi.
“What bonds us most is that we’re not just connected through squash, but a brotherhood, too,” Advani said. “I spend more time off [the] court with Zach than any other player. We try to work out in the Zeta [Psi] basement as much as we can, too.”
Since Advani joined two years ago, a new member of the squash program proved to be another fixture atop the program. Freshman Josh Lee, who is from Korea, participated with Advani and Schweitzer in the Div. III Individual Championships, a tournament where only the top three players from each school compete. He has turned the duo of Advani and Schweitzer into a trio.
“Josh has improved a lot this season,” Schweitzer said. “When he came in he had a lot of passion and [was] just going everywhere. ... But I was proud of him for making the Individual Championships. Freshman, sophomore, junior — the trifecta some might say.”
The Individual Championships gave Advani, Schweitzer and Lee a chance to bond as teammates, and increase chemistry. Lee, as a freshman, had full support from his teammates.
“The tournament was fun,” Advani said. “I got to spend a lot of time with the boys. There was a ton of team chemistry and a lot of playing time. It was also a very international event because Tufts’ three players were from India, Korea and Germany. And Josh was really nervous, but we helped calm him down as much as we could.”
Moving forward, the teammates hope to not be separated. Last fall, Schweitzer studied abroad and Advani was left to head the team alone with Kardon. If Advani were to study abroad during his own junior year, he would leave Schweitzer to lead the team alone as the No. 1 for a semester. Both Advani and Schweitzer say that they would rather avoid any more lapses in their tenure as the top two squash players at Tufts.