By Staff Writer Joelle Chuang
At MSJ, squash player Junior Cassandra Ong may seem like a normal student who enjoys math and takes multiple AP classes. However, behind the low profile that she keeps at MSJ, Ong is a tenacious player on the squash courts. She received 2017-18 US Squash All-American Recognition last month, and is currently ranked eighth nationally in the Girls Under 19 division.
Squash is a fast-paced racket sport played in a four-walled court where players take turns to hit a small rubber ball. This sport requires many short, sharp movements, and players must have agility to move around the court.
Ong was first introduced to squash seven years ago when her parents took her to a clinic for fun. She currently practices five times a week at ClubSport and competes in tournaments every month during the squash season. Since she travels regularly to compete at tournaments, she manages her time by doing homework at school. In March of 2017, Ong placed second in the US Junior Championships for the Girls Under 17 division. Through her many years of experience, she has learned the importance of humility and the constant need to strive for improvement.
A few of the challenges that Ong faces include learning discipline, being patient, and dealing with injuries. She has twisted both of her ankles and knees multiple times, but since then has learned to strengthen her muscles. She said, “When you’re strong enough to play, nothing will hurt and it will feel good to play … it’s a lot more controlled.”
Regarding lessons that she has learned from playing squash, Ong said, “I learned that it’s less about what you accomplish and more about the person you become through it. I learned to deal with loss, injury, being a gracious winner and loser, and I learned a lot of humility. The better you get at your sport, the more you realize how much more you can improve.”
One of her most memorable experiences was at a tournament where she had to deal with both pregame complications and a strong but unsportsmanlike opponent. Since she wasn’t in very good condition, she started out playing badly; however, after her coach pointed out her opponent’s weakness, she defeated her opponent in a close match and ended up placing top eight in that tournament overall.
Ong plans to continue playing squash in college, but is unsure about what will come after that. For now, she training to compete in the 2018 California Summer Gold tournament, which will take place from June 22 to 24.
Photo by Staff Writer Joelle Chuang