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Navy with Electric green logo Open Squash

Open Squash

Feb 13th 2024

Wales To NYC And Beyond

Squash Can Take Any Youngster on A Journey of Success, Says Peter Creed at Open Squash

This is a paid post contributed by a Patch Community Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author's own, and the information presented has not been verified by Patch.

Peter Creed serves as Director of Squash at Open Squash, a nonprofit squash center in New York City. He is passionate about the club's mission to broaden participation in the sport.

"One of the best things about the club is that young people are mixing with each other," he said. "They care about the squash. They don't know who's on financial help. It's about getting better at the game and progressing. That's what counts."

Squash brought Peter on his own journey from a small town in Wales to New York City. On the way, he represented his country more than 150 times, and ranked 50th on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) world tour. He also won eight PSA titles and nine national titles. Now he's delighted to share his infectious passion for the game with adults and young people.

Peter Creed with Mark Cairns (Patch)

Peter Creed (right, with spiked hair) with Mark Cairns, former world number 7, as a boy

Peter began playing squash at nine along with a host of other sports including rugby. At 14, his parents suggested he go on a squash summer camp at Millfield school.

"It surprised me because my parents used to love taking us on holidays over the summer," he said. "But I threw myself into it and played the best I could."

It was a weeklong camp, and by the Wednesday, the Millfield squash coach recruited Peter to attend the school and train under his guidance. Millfield is a private school in England with a renowned sports program. Its graduates are frequent Olympic Games medal-winners. And the school's squash coach wasn't any old anybody, either. He was six-time British Open Champion (1967-1973) Jonah Barrington. He remains one of the sport's main ambassadors and gets wide credit for opening up the game.

Peter Creed with Chris Robertson and Mike Howe (Patch)

Peter Creed (center) with Welsh National Coach Chris Robertson (left) and Mike Howe (right) tournament director of Welsh National U15, after winning the tournament

"I was a kid, I said 'okay', like it was nothing," Peter said. "But I didn't know what I was doing. My parents downplayed it and said let's talk to the bursar first. They took me up for an interview the next week and talked to the bursar, and said 'okay, it's done.' And I started the following week."

The experience changed Peter's life. He went from being one of the most popular youngsters at his school in Wales to not knowing anybody. His friends were texting him asking where he was.

"And I had this old Nokia phone and I was saying, er...I've changed schools," he said. "They couldn't believe it."

At first, he would sit in the library at lunchtimes, an experience "out of character for anybody that knows me." And other aspects of the school experience were also uncomfortable. Not least that his father cried every time he dropped him off for a semester. Peter also had to stop dying his hair red, something he liked doing when representing Wales. It had to go back to its normal color. And he had to wear a suit to classes, but also found it uncomfortable. So he would change into his squash gear and tracksuit before coming to squash. The other students all came to the squash center in their suits before changing. This usually meant Peter would be late for squash, which meant he had to start with 50 court sprints. But, as a fast sprinter, Peter was happier to be comfortable in his tracksuit after practice at dinner.

"Meanwhile everyone else would have to go to dinner in their suits, and I was happy to do the sprints," he said.

Peter Creed in Wales Kit (Patch)

In Wales kit, age 16 for the Millfield international honours board

During the weeks and on weekends, Peter would train with Jonah Barrington. At the time, Jonah was 60, and still playing, and still remarkably fit. His book, Murder on The Squash Court, published in 1982, placed fitness at the heart of the game. And even at 60, Jonah would train with Peter in a way that most would describe as focused on extreme endurance.

"We'd do an hour of one-minute ghosting, one-minute sit-ups," Peter said. "And we'd swap in and out for the whole hour, sharing his famous ‘Mr B’s Bum Buffer’ to protect our lower back–a dearly invented ab mat. Every week, we would do a 25-minute continuous ghost, and Jonah would be there at the back counting every single shot. Yelling 'one, two, three.' It gave me a sense on the court, playing, that I couldn't get tired. It was remarkable."

It's possible that the experience informed Peter's "pain cave" trainings. For those interested in pushing their fitness to new levels at Open Squash, they work. Barrington's son Joey was also at the school training full time on the PSA World Tour and Peter found a way to upgrade his squash kit.

Peter Creed with Jonah Barrington and Joey Barrington (Patch)

Peter Creed (right) With Jonah Barrington (left) and his son, Joey Barrington (center)

"I'd hustle Jonah's sponsored Nike kit off his son, Joey, for a few quid," Peter said. "He used to get these amazing kits but he would only wear a few of them, and I pushed for the leftovers. It was this wheeler-dealer thing."

As Peter progressed beyond Millfield, the school left a lasting impact. Three of the six groomsmen at his recent wedding—to another former Millfield student, Eleanor Wright—were from Millfield. His joint best man was from Caerphilly. Other Millfield squash players include Mohammed and Marwan ElShorbagy, who followed Peter. Another friend's father led a sports apparel company with links to Ellesse, a well-known tennis brand.

"When I was getting better he told me he'd sponsor me if I got into the top 100," Peter said. "And I forgot about it but one day he asked me about my ranking. I said 'I think it's 86' and he said, 'well let's get you some sponsorship."

Peter loved the Ellesse sponsorship, as their apparel is amongst the most comfortable around, he said. It also often matches and contains brighter colors than some of the other kits.

"Look good, feel good, play well," Peter said. "That's what it's about. It's so important to go out there and feel comfortable."

Head racquets have also been sponsoring Peter throughout his career since he was 14 years old, and he is very grateful. Peter also runs his own squash apparel brand, SquashDudes, with wife Ellie. The goal of the brand is to inspire the squash community to seek joy and share the sport. Meanwhile at Open Squash, Peter is building the junior red team into a thriving, committed, and hardworking group of players. One can tell, watching such practices, that Peter has trained under Jonah Barrington. He enjoys yelling as he's counting the ghosting shots, just as Jonah used to. He also gives adults private lessons and runs clinics for team players on Sundays.

When he was considering where to continue his career in squash, Peter was thoughtful.

"Open Squash isn't a country club," he said. "And I love the community atmosphere. The cafe is right next to the courts and whenever you walk in, everybody says hello. That's important to me. It's not this stuffy atmosphere. It's about love of the game and feeling comfortable with yourself. I don't have to walk in saying what my PSA ranking was or where I played or who I know. I can be comfortable being myself and that's the environment I want to foster for everybody who plays the game."

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Peter!