|Spirit and Brazilian
La Hacienda Squash Open
by Juan Carlos Santacruz,
adapted by Steve Cubbins
a wide smile, that lights up his face, Rafael Alarcon, No 1
seed of La Hacienda Squash Open, is direct, honest, open,
happy, like many Brazilians he's very emotive, and at 28 years old
he has an immense love for squash, a sport that he’s played since he
"I like travelling, meeting people..." he says when asked about his
dedication to squash.
He has been a professional for six years, has five national titles,
a silver medal in the Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo in 2003
and a PSA title in the circuit that same year. These are his best
He was born in Sao Paulo and lives there, where he trains with his
professor, partner, friend and player who was also seeded in the
main draw of this tournament, the Canadian Sabir Butt.
His mother lives in Goiania, and his father died when he was 16
years old, before he began playing squash. He has a sister who is a
Physical Education teacher. She talks to them frequently, but his
life revolves around squash. A daily routine, permanent classes,
clinics and training.
play for myself. It’s a personal goal. I don’t play for the
federation, for friends or people. It’s my own goals. I want to
meet," he says. He has managed to climb up to no 68 in the the PSA
rankings, and his ambition is to enter the top 40 and be the best
player in Brazilian of all time. He wants to beat Qiko, the
Brazilian who in the 90's reached the no 42 spot.
He used to play table tennis and tennis before taking up squash. In
the gym where he did his physical training in the city of Goiania
there was a squash court. One day he felt curious, started hitting
the ball, and since then he hasn’t stopped. He fell in love with
squash. Nobody taught him, he had a natural talent that took him to
his first tournament victory after three months of practice.
Mental and Technical
"In order to win you have to be prepared," he says, and adds that
“it’s very important for a player to have a good physical base,
technical skills and good mental balance. Without these you can’t
play good squash." Rafa claims that because of his contagious smile
he's one of the most loved players on the continent and in the PSA.
He emphasizes that the technical part of the game must be learned
from the basics, with good programmes, and serious training in order
for the young players to be unafraid of competition.
He's very critical of the organizations that run squash in his
country and the continent. "It is nonsense, they don’t know what to
do, it’s a shame, with so many players full of enthusiasm."
He doesn’t want to get involved. Right now his mind is set on
improving as a player, feeding his spirit, sharing with his friends
and being a better person each day. "I see how the best players
play, I stay with the experiences and try to add it to my game."
Mixing it with the
remembers his best moments of squash, the 3-2 aganst the Finnish
Olli Touminen, in the first round of the PSA held in Brazil in
2003 and his match in the Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo
against Graham Ryding, to whom he lost but played at his best
In style he admires Jonathan Power, but for consistency he admires
Peter Nicol. "Power always wants to win," he emphasises. “However,
Nicol is a professional who has always been at a high level and is
an example of discipline. He has been in the top five for many
Rafa, the best latin player is Jorge Gutierrez of Argentina,
and from the Colombians he admires Bernardo Samper, who he
says, opened the door for players to enter colleges in the States.
"He left an open road for young Colombian players to be accepted in
the best universities in the States," he says.
Rafa ... the Philosophy
Rafael is single and lives alone. He says he doesn’t feel an
attractive man, although he is good among women. He confesses that
he's in love with a Brazilian named Vivianne, a professional in
psychology who also works in marketing, and with whom he hopes to
live in the next months. "I don’t want to get married, the good
things in a relationship end," he says, and affirms that he likes
children and will have some, some day.
Rafael has no problems. He laughs at life. He doesn’t ask who his
rival is going to be, he knows that in order to win he needs to beat
whoever comes to play him.
He just enjoys his sport, has fun and lets it feed his spirit.
Juan Carlos Santacruz
Last weekend saw the
conclusion of the
La Hacienda Open in Bogota,
with South Americans taking both titles.
Tournament director Juan Carlos Santacruz grabbed some time
with the champions ... Rafael Alarcon and Samantha Teran ...
Luciano Barbosa and Rafael Alarcon receive their Pan Am Medals