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Lebanon Junior Will Face the World

Lebanon — Whether on the squash court or in the training room, Lebanon High junior Max Reed is one patient athlete.

Reed, a nationally ranked junior squash player for years, has suffered injuries each of the last two seasons, which prevented him from participating in the Under-17 National Championships. Now competing at the U-19 level, he finally stayed healthy enough for the national meet, losing in the round of 16 to Hayes Murphy of Greenwich, Conn., at Princeton University in March.

Ranked 10th by U.S. Squash entering this month’s Junior Men’s Team Playoff in Philadelphia, Reed needed to make the final round in order to earn a spot on the Junior Men’s national team, a six-player group bound for the World Junior Squash Championships from Aug. 10-21 in Windhoek, Namibia.

After a four-match win over No. 14 James Watson in the round of 16, Reed upset No. 2 Arhum Saleem in the quarterfinals, sweeping the Georgia native in three games, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9.

Needing to beat No. 5 Pierson Broadwater in the semis in order to punch his ticket to Namibia, Reed lost two of the first three games by the minimum two points. He returned the favor after that with a pair of 12-10 wins to clinch the match, accomplishing one of his primary goals by making the junior national team. Reed lost in the playoff final to Mason Ripka, who will join Reed, Broadwater and four others to the World Championships.

“I was pretty pumped,” said the energetic Reed, who doubles as the Raiders’ boys tennis team’s No. 1 singles ace. “I was so upset and disappointed when I lost in the round of 16 (at U-19 nationals). It was really important that I came back and had a great day at (the Junior Men’s Team Playoff). So to know that I’ll be ongoing on the national team and competing with the best in the world is pretty awesome.”

Reed is 48-11 this season in individual matches during Junior Championship Tournament events, which contribute to his overall ranking.

He’s placed in the top 10 in four out of six such events, including a runner-up finish in January at the West Coast Junior Championships in San Francisco.

With no full-time coach — Reed practices on a limited basis with Dartmouth College men’s squash coach Hansi Wiens — he has focused on physical fitness as a means to help improve his game. Working diligently with Lebanon-based trainer Emile Smith, the pair has taken a patient approach by engaging in what Smith calls “re-patterning” movement exercises to help Reed establish habits conducive to the explosive demands of squash.

Reed cited overtraining as the culprits behind his previous injuries, which included abductor and hamstring ailments. Pushing himself too hard hasn’t been an issue with Smith, a personal trainer with a background in physical therapy.

“A lot of people, when they think of athletes training, they think about lifting a lot of heavy weights and running around like crazy,” said Smith, a physical trainer with Cioffredi and Associates. “The fact is the situation is different for every athlete, and in Max’s case we had to take quite a few steps back so that he would start to move more effectively. We spent a lot of time doing basic movement exercises. It’s not very exciting or glamorous, but Max showed a lot of discipline. He was very dedicated to the idea of getting better, and we gradually worked into exercises of higher intensity.”

Reed himself is an intense, explosive competitor, as he showed Thursday while decisively beating Hanover’s No. 1 singles’ player, Henry Pletcher, 8-1. With his sneakers squeaking with every outstretched lunge, hardly a ball went behind his baseline as he won his 22nd career high school tennis match. Including doubles, he now has 43 NHIAA wins under his belt while playing in his second full season as the Raiders’ No. 1 player.

“The work I do with Emile has really helped with the tennis, too,” Reed said. “We do a lot of core strength training, which is really important both in squash and tennis. I feel like most of the matches I win, it’s because I’m stronger (than the opponent).”

Even with the World Junior Squash Championships on the horizon, Reed is intent on tennis season for now. A Raiders’ co-captain, he’s determined to help Lebanon have a strong season. Before Thursday’s match, he gathered teammates for a group huddle, knowing how much it would mean for the program to knock off Hanover. The Raiders hadn’t beaten the Marauders since 2009 and Hanover was undefeated during a state title run last year.

The Marauders narrowly won Thursday, taking a 5-4 win at the Carter Community Building Association courts.

“I’m just a really competitive guy. I don’t ever want to lose,” Reed said. “We’ve got a really good team this year, a great group of guys who get along really well on and off the courts. I know we can have a great season.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.