I had a lot of fun interviewing the Stuart Skelton of our Ballarat Squash and Racquetball Club.
Such a passionate guy with lots to give, this guy can make anyone feel like they instantly fit in with his huge personality.
Stu to get the ball rolling, tell us about this incredible passion you have for our club and the sport in general..
I was initially interested in tennis as I have a long history of tennis in my family. We moved to a place that my father was appointed as head pro for squash, tennis and racquetball. I decided to give squash and racquetball a go and I loved it. I think what has kept my interest over the years apart from the success I had is the friendship and fun with the people in the sport. The squash and racquetball community is great and definitely has a 6 degrees of separation within it.
You touched on some success you had over your career, give us a snapshot..
Starting the sport at 6 years old, I was just 12 when I won my first 'D' grade tournament. As I grew and turned 15 I had reached 'A' grade. I played junior squash tournaments and was ranked 1st in British Columbia, Canada in the under 18's. I made the Canada Games Team and won silver in the squash event representing B.C.
I played many tournaments across all of North America, and a few PSA (Professional Squash Association) tournaments among them. The highest ranked player that I beat in my time was ranked at 130 in the world.
I was a level 3 certified squash coach in Canada, and spent the last few years coaching before i moved to Australia.
It's safe to say I do enjoy the social side of our sports more than the training, and thats why I never pursued a professional playing career.
Tell us about what you love most about the Ballarat Club as you have been a member well over 10 years!
The members here. It's always a great reason to keep coming back. We all love the sport, but the members are fantastic. I have recently taken up racquetball now and some of the members are off the hook! I think if we can if we can tap into the that fun for the game and their enthusiasm the club will continue to grow and thrive!
If there was one moment that stuck in your mind from all your years in the sport, keeping it clean, what would it be?
My most memorable moment in sport ever is walking into the stadium on the opening ceremonies at the Canada Games thinking how cool was this with thousands of athletes and fans cheering for their provinces. Plus topping it off with the Sliver medal in squash , I'll never forget it.
Gearing up for the Australian Masters championship, and also it being held in our own home town, how much pride is there, do you give yourself a chance or are you just playing because you want to be involved?
If I have to be honest, I feel like my 'off-court game' is ranked up with the best, but on court I need lots of tuning up and there's no time left to do it. Saying that I would love to play all the top ranked guys in my age group because that's what I like the best, competing against the best. As far as pride competing in my own home town / club, it doesn't matter when it comes to tournaments, I always give it all and have fun doing it.
The sport has had some good times and some downturns across it's history, and as the sport is starting to get some real momentum back, what do you say to all those kid's and adults out there looking for a new sport?
The sport today isn't what it used to be in the 80's and 90's that's for sure! It's way easier to play now with all the technology thats gone into the racquets etc. I started using a racquet not much bigger than your hand, and now they are HUGE!
I would say get your friends down to your local club, have a laugh and get fitter as a consequence. You don't know how much fun your missing out on until you give it a go!
These days you don't even need to bring a friend, if you have just moved somewhere you don't know anyone, there will be some program to get you involved so you can become a part of a club and meet new friends!
Thanks for your time Stu, always helpful with a smile. Good luck with the tournament, see you around the club soon!