This week we managed to catch up with Jason Ho, HC Squash Team’s top seed, to find out more about his life as a squasher.
Jason Ho is by no means an unfamiliar name to all in the Singapore squash community. His accolades are by no means insignificant. In the 8 years since he first held a racquet, he has achieved no less than :
2006 C Division – 3rd
2007 C Division – 2nd
2008 B Division – 4th
2009 B Division – 3rd
2010 A Division – 2nd
Wilson Junior Squash Championships 2007 – U15 1st
Individual Graded Championships 2007 – F Grade 1st
Marigold Junior Squash Invitational 2008 – U15 1st
Individual Graded Championships 2008 – E Grade 2nd, D grade 2nd
Singapore Closed Squash Championships 2009 – U17 2nd
Marigold Junior Squash Invitational 2009 – U17 1st
Individual Graded Championships 2009 – C Grade 1st
Singapore Closed Squash Championships 2010 – U19 2nd
1) The 2010 squash boys’ team definitely surpassed the feats by last year’s team. What would you expect 2011 to to promise HC?
We did do better than last year’s team, and everybody is happy about that. However, our coach pointed out that this year, we as a team did not take training as seriously as we probably should have, and that was one aspect he wished could’ve been better. Of course, there’s no point in talking about past mistakes, since nothing can be changed. So all we can do is look ahead, and I would like to promise on behalf of the team (Actually, I haven’t asked them, but hopefully they agree :P) that we will train to the best of our ability from the time training resumes, until next season. Hopefully, the Squash Nationals in 2011 will end without regrets for anyone in the team, be it the coach or ourselves.
Unfortunately results-wise, I cannot promise anything since I’m not blessed with clairvoyance, and also because it is very unpredictable. There will be new and better players from other schools, and many upsets may occur during the actual competition itself. All we can hope for is that we’re the ones dishing out the upsets 🙂
2) The match you played against your opponents in this year’s Semis and Finals were comfortably won in straight sets! How did you come thus far and when was it that you first picked up a racket and stepped into a squash court?
I think I’ll answer the second part of the question first because it’s easier. I first played squash in Primary 3. Or 4. I can’t really remember, age is catching up on me. My dad taught me how to hit the ball and stuff. At that time, it was entirely recreational. Something like how many of us in school playing street soccer etc during our free time. I used to be a badminton player in primary school so squash was more of a weekend activity to uh, just fool around. To prevent me from staying home on weekends to play video games , I think my parents decided to send me to play squash against some other kids every Saturday. Coincedentally, Bryan Seow from 10A10 was one of the ‘some other kids’ then. Basically, it was a congregation of little kids who tried to play squash like badminton.
I started playing squash properly in Secondary 1, after I entered high school. I wasn’t very keen on switching from badminton at first, but I’m thankful I did in the end. I joined a club in Sec 1, before switching to another in Sec 2, and I’m still there right now. That was useful since it allowed me to play with a player from other clubs every week, and it offered lots of valuable experience. In Sec 1, I had a private coach for 3 months or so. Other than that, my training was all done in school. Hopefully that answers the first part of the question.
3) For any athlete, mental preparation plays a determining factor in the outcome of any match. Do tell us more about your style of psyching up!
I try my best not to think of anything. Anything besides the match. Such as undone tutorials. Because these things are unnecessary (for a match.) and they tend to disrupt one’s focus. I try to clear emotions out of my head too. Basically, I just try to do whatever I’m supposed to do as best as I can, and I guess being a blur sotong helps me with it.
4) Could you enlighten us on the structure and workings of the National League? How are you faring in this aspect?
The National League is just like any League in soccer, where different clubs compete with each other weekly, and results are recorded in a point system. Its just that for the NSL, clubs send teams of 4 (all singles). If a team wins 4-0, they get 5 points. If its 3-1 , the 5 points are shared proportionately between the teams. If its 2-2, we count the total number of points won by all four players on each team, and the team with more points wins on what is called ‘countback’. In this situation, the 5 points are shared as well, with the winning team taking 3, losing team taking 2.
At the end of the season, which typically lasts 4-5 months, the team on top of the table is the winner. So every week on a certain day (different days for different grades), 8 players will meet at a certain venue (home ground or away ground for either team) to play, and results are sent in by captains of both teams to the Singapore Squash Rackets Association, which collates and records the scores every week. All teams will play with each other twice, once on home ground, once away.
In the NSL, players are divided into different grades. When starting off, everyone begins as an F grader, and they work their way up the grades, with the best grade being A. Usually, some players in the teams that top the table in a particular grade (e.g. E grade champion team) are promoted to the next grade (e.g. D grade). Another way to be promoted is to obtain a top 4 position in the annual Individual Graded Championships.
I’m in the B grade. The B Grade League matches just concluded last Thursday, and fortunately we came out as champions. This Saturday, there will be playoffs for every grade, where the top 2 teams compete with each other one more time. It, however, does not carry any weightage, and is more of a friendly game.
5) Do you have any shout-out to your teammates, opponents and fellow Hwa Chongians?
To my current teammates: Hello Ryn, Darren, Alex, Bryan, Yi Wen, Josh 🙂 I’ve enjoyed the whole process of playing alongside you guys this year, and hopefully this sentiment is a shared one 😀 Thank you, all of you, very much for making Nationals this year as fun as it was.
To my high school teammates: Hello Timothy, Alex, Nicholas Heng, Nicholas Teo, Josh 🙂 Earlier on, I listed out all our achievements from past years. Although it may not seem very outstanding compared to some other sports in Hwa Chong, always remember that we were the best homegrown school team in Singapore, and unlike other schools, we did not need DSA-ed players.
To our opponents: The weather’s pretty good today 🙂
To my fellow Hwa Chongians: I’ll repeat what we hear very often during morning assemblies: ‘We would like to thank everyone who has helped or supported us in one way or another.’ It’s cliche, but it is a very apt sentence to describe whatever any competing team wants to tell the whole school, and that is why we hear it so much in the first place.
6) What has been the biggest factor that has influenced and helped you in journey as an HC athlete?
The biggest factor is enjoying what I do, and probably the same goes for many other athletes in school. It is a pretty simple concept which roughly progresses this way: If you like the sport, you take the initiative to practise more, to train harder, and to do whatever thats related to it. It becomes quite natural, almost like a part of you (quite cheesy but nevermind). Basically, as long as you like what you do, you become better at it over time.
With such strong j1 players, Hwa Chong Squash will surely continue to strive and reach greater heights! 😀