October 24, 2012, St. Louis, MO – The Washington University in St. Louis squash club has named Mike Puertas as its head coach.
The squash team finally has a formal coach, Mike Puertas. Luke Shapiro, a junior at Wash U, started the squash program two years ago in October, 2010. In 2011, WUSTL won the Hawthorne cup, ending the season ranked at #50. In 2012, the team moved up to the Chaffee cup and finished the season ranked at #37. Coach Puertas hopes to bring the team further up in the rankings in the coming year.
Coach Puertas been playing and teaching squash for almost thirty years. He represented England, Spain (Captain) and the US (Captain) at the international level. Captain Shapiro stated, “I am ecstatic to have Coach Puertas join us as head coach. He is very dedicated to raising the squash profile in St. Louis. He is also a great coach and will make this team better tactically and physically.”
During his playing career, Coach Puertas reached a world ranking of #30 and won six PSA events. He won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Pan-Am games and was the world over 30’s champion in 1998. He has held a level 4 professional coaching certificate since 1999 and has coached numerous players from beginner to college level. Puertas coached top female player, Natalie Grainger, and took her from No.16 in the world to No.1. In 2006, he started and coached the US U23 team.
Puertas is one of many coaches making the transition from a professional on the tour to a collegiate coach. Other such coaches include John White (Drexel), Martin Heath (Rochester), and Mark Talbott (Stanford). “I am very excited at the prospect of coaching and mentoring the student athletes at Washington University”, states Puertas. “The team has made great strides in its first two years, achieving in spite of a lack of facilities. We now have two converted racquet ball courts to work with and are looking to add to that in the offseason.”
The goal is for squash to transition from club to varsity in the coming years. Per Puertas, “We are working hard on the court to prove our case as a viable varsity sport at Washington University. I think that the stature of the university is a perfect fit for squash, as academically it is on par with the finest universities in the country. There is no better addition than squash to put Washington University in a position to compete with Ivy League universities.”