How My Pro Career Started
By L-J Anjema © Dec 8, 2005
Laurens-Jan Anjema and SquashTalk LLC
Back in 2001 when I finished high school in June I knew
what I wanted to do. I had known it for a couple of years already and
my mind didn’t
change over that period of time.
Although my parents thought I’d
change my mind, I stuck to my dream to become professional and finally
they realized it wasn’t a one-day
dream but that I was dead serious about it all.
So on graduating day at
high school, when everyone received their diploma, the huge screen in
front of all the parents, grandparents and students said: “Laurens
Jan Anjema, squash professional, London” amongst
all my buddies’ next-step-in-life displays who wanted to become
doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. in Amsterdam, Delft or Rotterdam.
|Coach Neil Harvey (photo © Ron Beck, SquashTalk
My parents were very supportive and they figured: if
him to a university, we’d send him to the best university so if
we’re gonna send him to a squash coach, we’re gonna send
him to the best squash coach in the world. Peter Nicol was the nr 1 in
the world at the time so we looked up the name of his coach and eventually
got in contact via the Dutch national coach, who had his number.
Harvey invited me to come over for a week to see if I liked the set-up
over there — and in retrospect, I realize now, for him to decide
if he liked me and my squash.
|Laurens Jan at the Windy City Open, 2005 (photo © Debra
Tessier, SquashTalk )
This particular week turned out to be the week AFTER my hardcore graduation
party-week in Salou in Spain where certainly no squash balls were being
hit and maybe a few half-drunken runs at 1 in the afternoon were the
most I could do.
It was brutal. Not the party week in itself and not the welcome-to-becoming-a-pro
week in Chingford. But the combination of the one after the other…
Luckily the week was successful and Harvey invited me back a month later
to train non-stop for 7-8 months from July to February 2002.
Looking back now, those were the hardest months of my
life. I was living with a family in a room as small as my present closet.
They lived about a 30 minute walk from the club, so two sessions per
day added up to two hours walking per day by itself. I did training I’d
never done before. All I’d done before was hit once a day for maybe
an hour with the pros at the club after school. Now I was training 5-6
hours a day, 6 days a week at an intensity I didn’t know existed
including running, cycling, weight-training etc. But at the end of every
day, when I was tired and feeling sore, I was still always looking forward
to the next because, as cheesy as it sound, I was living my dream.
I think I build a pretty good foundation during that
I also took the being away from home pretty well, something
I reckon is an important and necessary ingredient for being a successful
I spoke with my parents and brother about once a week
about how things were going and stuff.
And then, in December I think it was, I had to go back
to Holland to play trials for the Dutch team for the World Team Championships
I was the talk of the town obviously, having trained
with the best in the world (Nicol, Ong Beng Hee, Genever, Garner etc). “He
must beat everyone easy now”, everyone thought, as did I.
slapped in the face when I lost my first (and last) trial match 3-1 and
went straight back to London, obviously in shock and very disappointed.
“Believe in what you’re doing”, Harvey said and somehow
I just kept doing the training. Then finally in march, when I played
my first PSA tournaments, I had some success reaching the final of the
Swiss and the Meadow Mill Open, both from qualifying, which set the tone
for my PSA-career and which gave me a huge confidence boost to continue.
Laurens Jan Anjema
In some plane somewhere
PSA Ranking 11-1-2008: #14
His website (www.princelj.com)