William Rutter follows through with his forehand with squash academy coach Adam Terheege, Ryan Vest and Elizabeth Rutter looking on at Rosters. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

William Rutter follows through with his forehand with squash academy coach Adam Terheege, Ryan Vest and Elizabeth Rutter looking on at Rosters. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Squash academy hitting big strides

Interior kids loving the game at Rosters

Once the No. 1-ranked squash player in Great Britain, Adam Terheege is now growing the game in the Okanagan Valley.

The 32-year-old fun-loving head pro at Roster Sports Club in Vernon runs the Interior Squash Academy and is stoked with what’s happening for all calibres of his students in Year 1.

“We’re seeing huge success with the juniors like Ryan Vest and William Rutter,” said Terheege. “They’ve done very well in tournaments and are top-five in B.C. Ryan is 11 and playing up two divisions in U15 and William is 14 going on 21 and he’s on the Team B.C. Development Team. He’s already six-feet.”

Rutter made the U15 development side at a weekend January trials camp in Richmond. The team will gather for a few training camps in the summer.

The Grade 9 Seaton student mixes up his shots on the court, using a delicate touch when it’s needed and delivering his favourite drive blast as much as possible. He got into squash while playing with his grandfather, Phil Rutter, and meeting Terheege, then out of Penticton, just under three years ago at Rosters.

“I don’t like team sports. I used to play soccer (striker), but I like the self-independence of individual sports. It’s all on me.”

Rutter, who also snowboards, likes Terheege’s coaching methods.

“He’s more a relaxed coach. He’s more visual than verbal.”

The elite players in the academy are outnumbered by those simply wanting to learn and enjoy a new sport.

“I run a group with kids who are new to squash and they first learn the hand-eye co-ordination and then they can go in tournaments if they wish,” said Terheege. “I have 15 elite players and we’ve gone from zero to 45 students which is great. The academy runs 20 hours a week so Rosters is packed every night and Gus (owner Morris) is loving it. I’m trying to grow to 60 kids.”

A freelance coach from Revelstoke to Penticton, Terheege also runs programs and camps in Nakusp, Summerland and Revelstoke once a month. He previously served as a pro for seven years at clubs in Victoria, Vancouver and Penticton before joining Rosters as the club pro in 2016.

“Adam Terheege has been a great addition to the Roster Sports Club,” said Morris. “Adam has been recently one of the top squash players in all of British Columbia. He has been a excellent choice for coaching our junior and adult programs. With his superb one-on-one coaching techniques and drills, he has increased the overall skill set of the club. Adam is very committed to the game of squash and generally just wants his students to become better players, and from what I see, they are.”

Terheege says post-secondary squash is slowly catching up to more popular sports like basketball, hockey and volleyball.

“There are (university) scholarships for squash now, especially for girls. The Ivy League schools in the U.S. and schools like Western and Guelph in Canada offer scholarships so that’s pretty exciting.”

A 6-foot-3, 230-pound father of two, Terheege turned pro in England at age 18. He played internationally for a few years before going into coaching.

“I do work the kids as hard as they need to be worked. The kids respect me because I’m a decent player. I’m laid back, but I push them to be better players.”

Said Vest, who also excels in golf: “What I like about Adam’s coaching is it’s fun. He makes me run and he pushes me to be better. He is just a great coach and a great guy.”

Terheege gives major props to Chris Henderson of Rossworn Henderson Chartered Accountants.

“He’s given us shirts and kits and money for the kids to travel to tournaments in Edmonton, Nanaimo and Vancouver, He’s been a huge help.”

Many of Terheege’s students will compete in a squash tournament, April 20-22, at Rosters. Former world champions Jonathon Power and Victor Berg will be marquee players.

“Adam will be getting everyone ready for the upcoming tournament,” said Morris. “This is the most exciting tournament to take place in the Interior, featuring two former world champions.”

Power, 43, is a retired pro from the Comox Valley. In 1999, he became the first North American squash player to reach the World No. 1 ranking. He won 36 top-level squash events during his career, including the World Open in 1998, and the British Open in 1999.

Berg, 40, is a Finnish-origin pro out of Vancouver who reached a career-high world ranking of No. 44 in 2003 after having joining the Professional Squash Association in 1996. He won a world title in doubles.

Sponsors for the Rosters tournament include: Kal Tire, Austin Engineering, Vernon Hyundai, Rossworn-Henderson , Davidson Pringle, Fairway Appliances, Murray Bennetto-Re/Max, Vernon Dental Center, Okanagan Spring Brewer, Printech, Tolko.