Happy Wednesday! I’m finally taking some time to sit down and recap my past couple tournaments. Between getting back into work, training, and other things, I haven’t actually sat down to fully process the tournament. Time to do so now!
I took the train from NYC to Philadelphia, where I met friend and fellow squash player, Weenee, who drove both of us down to Richmond, Virginia. It was a nice change of pace not having to worry about security lineups at the airport, and really enjoyed her company during our ~5 hour trip.
Richmond Open 2017 Matches: Quarters, Semis, Finals
I came into this tournament as the Number 1 seed, which theoretically benefits my draw, but does not mean I was expecting to win the draw. In the past, I’ve been seeded as low as 7 or 8, and have made it to the finals, so I was well aware that having a target “1” on your back doesn’t give you any sort of guarantee. However, one of the benefits of being seeded highly was that I had an automatic bye into the quarter-finals, where I would play against the winner from one of the first round matches. In this particular case, it also meant I would not have to play 2 matches in a day!
Quarter-finals vs Lume Landman
My first match was against Lume, a South African girl I had played a few months ago in another 5k in Virginia. I won in 4, losing the first game pretty badly (due to nerves I think), and then regrouping to take the next three. It was my first PSA win since December (eek!), and it sure felt nice to walk off with the W. Many of the tournaments I’ve been competing in this calendar year have been on the larger side, upwards of 10k’s, and although I had some close matches, was unable to secure wins in any of them. It felt good to start this one off on a good note!
Semis vs Maria Toorpakai Wazir
I moved on to the semis, where I found myself up against Maria, a very talented Pakistani girl. She is a couple years older than me, grew up playing with boys in Pakistan, and has a difficult style to play against. She can be quite physical and loves to go for winners. Quite quickly, I found myself in a 2-0 hole, scraping up only a few points per game. In the third, I was able to turn it around by extending the rallies, and won it in a tie break. There was a bit of drama in the 4th game, as Maria took a 3-minute injury timeout, but I managed to keep my focus and take that one as well, 11-9. The fifth wasn’t quite as close score-wise, but certainly felt intense as I closed it out 11-5. I wish I hadn’t made it quite so hard on myself mentally, but am proud that I stayed focused throughout those last 3 difficult games.
Finals vs Rowan Elaraby
This was my second PSA final ever, against a young Egyptian named Rowan. I had only seen her play a couple times before, but from what I could tell, she was a talented and mature player beyond her 16 years. I’m not sure if I didn’t quite believe in myself, but I lost the first game rather quickly, similar to my first game against Maria in the semis. Rowan had not yet dropped a game this tournament, and I knew I was going to have to step my game up to compete with her. The second game was better, and went up 10-8 (game ball). A couple of errors/mental lapses on my part, and a fabulous nick from Rowan gave her the game 12-10. Agh! The third game started off close, but the accuracy of my shots started to decrease, and I found myself running all over the place. While that run-and-hit game seemed to work for me well in college, it is certainly not sustainable at the Pro level. This resulted in some errors on my part, and a wack of winners on Rowan’s part, giving her roughly a 9-6 lead. She played very well, and closed it out 10-6.
The best thing about this tournament was playing a few matches in a row. I had to consistently keeping raising my game with each round. All around I wish I had played better (ie. made better shot choices on court), but fortunately I managed to video all of my matches, so I have material to look over and scrutinize!
On another note, the tournament venue was fantastic, and I’d like to thank everyone who helped out in organizing the event. It’s not easy to secure sponsors, or convince a club to essentially donate its prime-time courts for a few days. Thank you!
Charlottesville Open 2017 Matches
Coming off a pretty good tournament in Richmond, I was excited to get down to Charlottesville a few days later to play in a slightly bigger event (10k). Unfortunately, there were some bad storms in NY’s surrounding areas, which significantly delayed air traffic out of LaGuardia. We sat on the tarmac for 3 hours waiting in line behind tons of planes, and by the time it was our turn, we’d run out of fuel. By the time we had returned to the gate to refuel, the powers that be had decided to just cancel our flight entirely. I managed to get rebooked for another flight that evening into Richmond, but then that flight was also delayed and also cancelled two hours later. Basically, I became quite familiar with the “C” gates at LGA for 9 hours.
In the end, I got into Richmond the next morning, and a lovely couple I had met the week before in Richmond were able to pick me up from the airport and give me a lift to Richmond. Thank you, De Wets!
Despite the whole travel debacle, my time in Charlottesville could not have been better. I stayed with a lovely family that took great care of me, and the whole squash community in the little town was wonderful.
Match vs Colette Sultana
My first match of the tournament was against Colette, a senior at Columbia University. Despite some fatigue and my appalling solo session a couple hours earlier, I played pretty well and closed it out.
Match vs Haley Mendez
I then found myself up against Haley Mendez in the quarter finals. Haley and I had competed against each other in college (she was my year and attended Harvard), and we had a 1-1 record (I think).
Haley spends a large part of her time training in England, but when she is home in Brooklyn, NY, we make a point to get on court as often as possible. I am pretty familiar with her game, but I knew that wasn’t going to give me any sort of an advantage. She is a tough player with great technique, who will punish you for leaving balls in the middle of the court.
I went in to the match expecting to be doing most of the running, and surprised myself when I was able to control and compete in a good portion of the rallies. Unfortunately, my self-belief didn’t quite match up to the level of my play, and I found myself mentally wilting at the end of the games. I was surprised by the fact that doing better than expected would cause me to doubt my ability. Well- lesson learned, and now I’m aware of it if it ever happens again!
1) Travel (even if you’re not going anywhere) takes a toll on your energy levels
2) I love the squash community in Virginia! Everyone I met was so nice and extremely helpful.
3) Self-belief is an interesting thing… that I haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s a work in progress!
Alright that’s enough squash writing for me. Time to go play some squash now! I’m in Toronto for Nationals, and my first match is in a couple of hours. Adios!