Squash has traditionally been considered an East Coast sport, but it's beginning to hit the Midwest in a big way - with the Lake Forest Recreation Center's squash program, and it’s new Squash Professional, Serena Carbonell, leading the way.
“Overall, I’m really focusing on working to expand squash in the community,” Carbonell said. “The previous professional did a phenomenal job in getting the program growing- it’s just continuing what she started. And most importantly, it’s educating people on what squash is.
Squash was named the ‘Healthiest Sport’ by Forbes magazine in 2003, noting that participants burn around 517 calories in just 30 minutes of play.
“It definitely puts anyone into shape very quickly,” Carbonell said. “It’s great in the winter – it’s nice because it can be played indoors.”
Squash runs in Carbonell’s genes, with her whole family being talented players.
“I started playing when I was nine,” Carbonell said. “My sister and brother had already been playing and my parents initially introduced me to tennis. I didn’t gravitate toward it, but they put me on the squash court. We’re a family of ‘squashers’!”
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Carbonell went on to captain and play #1 for Westminster School in Connecticut, and was awarded Second Team All-American while playing squash for Trinity College. Before moving to Lake Forest, she previously served as the Assistant Squash Professional at the Westmoor Club on Nantucket Island during the 2006 summer season. She has also been the Head Squash Coach for Lake Forest Academy for the past three years.
Carbonell’s position at the Rec Center, as well as her coaching and the private lessons that she teaches (Carbonell is also a US Squash Level 1 Certifed Coach and Club Referee) keeps her busy.
“I balance it all out,” she said. “On a typical day…the [Lake Forest] Academy trains four days per week and on one weekend day. Following that, I have a junior program for middle school and grade school students in the Lake Forest Community. After that, I might have a Lake Forest Country Day class or practice, and then I also do have an adult program…I also extend services for private lessons. I’m there every day!”
Besides her day-to-day activities as a coach and squash professional, Carbonell assists in organizing a series of events for U.S. Squash (the national governing body for the sport of squash), such as September’s Women’s Squash Week and World Squash Day.
“I put [Women’s Squash Week] together for Chicago,” Carbonell said. “I arranged for a group of women, 13 to 14 participants, who came to the rec. center and played round-robin. We took the time to get to know each other and really represent women in squash.”
World Squash Day, held on October 20, is an international event where squash players all over the world came together to back the bid for squash to be made an event in the 2020 Olympics. Carbonell organized a pair of events for the day, with juniors participating, and a ‘Back the Bid for the 2020 Olympics’ game.
“It was our way of saying that it’s time to do something about this,” she said. “I know that there’s been a very positive response [to the movement]. I haven’t heard yet how long it’s going to be until we know if it will be an event.”
Carbonell also said that squash is a great activity to get children involved in at a young age – both for the health benefits and the possible boost it will give them into getting into top-notch colleges later down the line.
“My sister played for Brown University and my brother played for Yale,” she said. “Squash is really played as a Division 1 sport. If anyone wants their children to play squash and receive a very great education – squash is definitely a sport that could be very helpful in getting someone into an institution like that!”
More information about the Lake Forest Recreation Center can be found here.