Why Not or Why NOT?

Hello from Laguardia airport! I’m currently settled in a chair by my gate with a $13 bag of Blue Diamond roasted almonds by my side (so worth it!), waiting to board. (Update: I’m almost done this post and have probably had about 5 servings. Why are almonds so addicting?!). I took public transit (subway + free bus connection) to the airport , and was really pleased with how smooth of a ride I had. From the time I left the club in midtown to the moment I sat down at my gate, it was about an hour. You can’t beat that! Maybe I’ll start trying to fly mid afternoon on Mondays more often…

Breakfast

After a solid 9-hour sleep, I woke up to a grumbling stomach and a craving for coffee. I quickly put on a pot of coffee, while simultaneously fixing breakfast and throwing a few last minute items in my suitcase. I did my absolute best to not overpack, since 90% of my bag is filled with training clothes, and I know that I’ll have several chances to do laundry over the next 10 days. Plus, I’m hoping to be able to fit my Salming duffel into the overhead bin and not sky check it. All about saving doll-ahs and being efficient over here!

Although breakfast this morning was influenced by clearing out all perishables from the fridge, it was quite tasty!

Today’s scramble mix included:

  • 3 eggs + 1 egg white
  • raw spinach
  • a bucketload of chopped chives
  • Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning (<– love this stuff!)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • sweet potato spirals sautéed in coconut oil that were on the verge of death (not pictured)

I heated up some coconut oil, scrambled it all up, and deemed it very edible! Coconut oil just may be my new favourite sautéing buddy. A little bit goes a long way, and it gives the food a slightly sweet taste, which I love.

Workout

After breakfast/packing, I headed into Manhattan to teach a lesson and sneak a quick workout in. The 45-minute lesson flew by, and after sorting out a couple billing tasks, I debated for about 2 minutes whether or not I should do a little bike workout. I was feeling indecisive, and formed a mental pros vs cons list:

Pros:

  1. I’m well-rested (HRV was also green this morning)
  2. It will energize me
  3. I said I would, and it’s part of the training schedule I set out to do
  4. It’ll only take 20 minutes

Cons:

  1. I’m a little short on time and don’t want to be late/stressed for my flight
  2. I’m ever so slightly hungry, but not really that hungry

Honestly, all this thinking just confused me. In the end, I thought to myself: “Why NOT?“. When you’re motivated, it’s easy to accomplish a given task. Similarly, when you’re unmotivated, it’s quite convenient to go with any number of excuses. But what happens when you’re ambivalent? At this point, the battle becomes mental, rather than physical. For example, I was well-rested today. My body felt good, and my mind was up for it. I had finished the other tasks that needed to be done, and really did have 20 minutes to spare. When I realized I had zero legitimate excuses, I figured I’d better shut my mind up and get on with it.

… I wish this was my setup today! This was taken over winter break.

20-something minutes later, I hopped off the bike, sweaty and out of breath. One of the benefits of being constrained for time, is that I made sure to make every single minute count. The workout looked something like this:

  • 0-5 min: warm up (alternating 1 min seated, 1 min standing, with the beat)
  • 5-10 min: 5 minute “climb”: one 10-25 second sprint every minute, and in between, pedalling out of the saddle with the beat
  • 11-20 min:
    • 20s on/40s off (3x)
    • 30s on/30s off (3x)
    • 40s on/20s off (2x)

After cooling down for a minute, it took me no more than 10 minutes to shower, dress, pack, and head out!

Anywho, now I’m chilling at my gate, munching on almonds, and wondering whether or not I should take a $500 travel voucher for a flight that leaves 3 hours from now…

E.M Noll Classic 5K

Happy Thursday! I got back to NYC from Philly late Monday night, and aside from working, I’ve been trying to take a little rest from training. After my final match Monday, the medial part of my left calf was hurting and overall my body felt pretty tired, so I knew a few light days would do me some good.

I took Tuesday and Wednesday off, and yesterday I did some ghosting plus a light 30 minute bike. After a few light days, I thought my HRV would be green today and I’d be good to go, but I woke up “amber”! Nevertheless, I traveled up to Stamford to hit with John and some other pros, hoping I’d feel better after moving around a bit. About 30 minutes into the hit, I could tell that my HRV was right, as I was struggling to get into it, mentally and physically. I really tried my best to work hard and not get upset, but I can’t lie- it was pretty slow moving.

That’s a lot of amber days for one week…

John advised me to take the next few days off court (aside from coaching), to regain the “spark”. I’m planning to focus on my off-court training (strength and conditioning), while letting my mind reset!

Anyway, let’s back up a bit and recap this past weekend, as it was a good one!

E.M Noll Classic 5k (Philadelphia, PA)

This weekend I competed in my second tournament of 2018, the E.M Noll Classic, held at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia. Ever since I lived in Philly for the summer between Junior and Senior year of college, I’ve loved coming back and seeing friends and the city. (That summer was actually when I first started my blog, in 2014!). I love how Philadelphia has all of the aspects of a big city, without actually being that big. Furthermore, it has tons of history and museums, all within walking distance. While I didn’t get a chance to do sightseeing this trip, I was able to spend some quality time with my friend Kelsey, as I stayed with her at her parent’s place in the suburbs.

Thursday (travel day)

I arrived Thursday evening, after having had a practice hit with Will in the morning, followed by a few hours of coaching. Needless to say, I was tired when I got off the bus downtown Philly. Kelsey and I had plans to hit at 7:30, and since we were both tired from the week, it was a bit of a lacklustre 30 minute hit, but nonetheless we got out there and got moving.

Friday: Match vs Hayley Hughes (Round of 16)

The next morning, I woke up very tired, and couldn’t shake the feeling. I decided to stay off my feet until 30 minutes before match time, when I hopped on the bike for a solid 15 minute spin, followed by mobility and movement prep. I had a pretty slow start, and lost the first game 14-12. The next three games I buckled down and got it done, dropping only a few points each game. Although the scores reflected that I had a strong hold on the match, I didn’t feel very comfortable out there, and didn’t think I was watching or moving very well.

Surprisingly, the rest of Friday absolutely dragged. I was so tired, and despite the fact that there were a number of high quality matches going on, I felt out of it and “squashed out”. I hoped a good rest that night would help me recover for the next day.

Saturday: Match vs Ryan Morgan (Quarters)

After a good sleep Friday night, I felt much more rested. Ryan was in the city this past summer, and I got on court with her a lot, so I knew a few things about her game. However, about 20 minutes before match time, I had a bit of a panic attack, as I broke the strings on both of my racquets while practicing. With 15 minutes to go and no racquet, I rushed into the pro shop in hopes someone would be able to string one of my racquets in time for my match. Rob, one of the pros, claimed he is the “fastest stringer on the East coast”, dropped what he was doing, and proceeded to string my racquet right then and there. I was very relieved and grateful!

Sunday: Match vs Marina Stefanoni (Semis)

Although I felt good coming off my win against Ryan, I couldn’t help but feel nervous before my match against Marina, a 15-year old from Connecticut. Yes, you read that right- a 15 year old. However, Marina is no ordinary 9th grader. She has been winning the U-19 category in US tournaments for the past year or two, and is certainly one of the most talented young American players to come through the junior ranks. I watched her match against Nouran Gohar (world #5) at the Tournament of Champions on SquashTV, and was very impressed with how she played. Marina shows such little emotion when she plays, you might almost think she doesn’t care, but this is so not the case. She has a mature game, makes very good decisions, and very few errors. I tried my best to leave the whole age thing out of it, because I knew those thoughts wouldn’t be productive.

I ended up winning in 4, dropping the second game 11-4. My squash definitely did not feel free flowing, and I credit that to all to Marina’s tactics. She kept me off my game very well, by hitting cross courts I could not volley (to put me behind her), and then dropping it short at any chance (to drag me to the front). As a player who typically likes to attack mostly from the mid-court and volley straight balls, these tactics put me on edge, making it difficult for me to execute my game plan. Still, I was happy and relieved to win the match, and look forward to training with Marina in Connecticut soon!

The rest of Sunday was spent watching matches, blogging, and hanging out at a Super Bowl party. Although the party was really fun, Kelsey and I left with two minutes to go in the last quarter. We were right downtown by city hall, and didn’t want to get stuck in the post-game mayhem. While reading the news the next morning, I felt relieved all over again that we left when we did, otherwise we would have been stuck in the riots.

Monday: Match vs Maria Toorpakai Wazir (Final)

My match against Maria wasn’t until 6 pm, so I was able to get a practice hit in at noon with David, a fellow Canadian. We hit for roughly an hour (it wasn’t too intense), mostly doing some drills and a couple condition games. After a quick cool down and a shower, I headed next door to Real Food Eatery for lunch.

I got the same exact order I’d had the previous 3 days (!!):

  • mixed greens/kale dressed with EVOO and lemon
  • parmesan roasted broccoli
  • roasted beets with walnuts and goat cheese
  • 1/2 avocado
  • lemon herb marinated chicken thighs
  • almond basil pesto

Oh my goodness. This bowl is so filling and delicious. There were tons of “side” options to choose from, all of which looked delicious. Furthermore, the portions were really quite large! I think I got at least a full cup of beets and a cup and a half of broccoli- maybe more! I ate most of the bowl and saved some for later as a post-match meal.

My match against Maria started right on time at 6pm. I played well in the first game and came out on top, but lost the second 11-7. The last two games were strange, as the rallies weren’t very long, so I wasn’t tired, but I did feel very tense. I found myself hitting the ball back to Maria when I could have taken it in short, but I was so tight that my short shots were pretty heavy, and sat up to allow her to counter. Maria has ridiculously good hands, and if she’s at the ball, will pretty much hit a winner every time. We had several rallies which consisted of a serve and a return winner. It was a bit reminiscent of U13 junior squash!

Despite the unorthodox squash, I was able to win the 3rd and 4th games, securing my first-ever PSA title!

A big thank you to the tournament promoters and sponsors from the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, Salming, my coaches, and my billet (Kelsey). You guys helped make the weekend a great success!

Next up: National Training Camp (Windsor) + Windy City Open

The next 6 weeks is going to be so busy. On Monday I’m heading to Windsor, Ontario, for a national training camp, immediately followed by the Windy City Open, held in Chicago. After that, I’ll be back in NYC for a couple days before I head to Bermuda (!!!) for a 5k, which will kick off a 4-tournament road trip all over North America. Woo!

A Holistic, Process-Oriented Approach to Training

First off, I’d like to thank those of you who reached out with positive comments regarding my previous blog post. As it turns out, I’m not alone in feeling this way from time to time. Simply writing the post alleviated some of the negativity I was concealing, but the support from friends, family, and readers really put the situation into perspective.

All Or Nothing Approach

Finding a balance between training, resting, and competing can be difficult, and I often find myself taking an “all or nothing” approach, both mentally and physically. I tend to push myself hard mentally and physically when my motivation and energy is high, and then slowly crash. The slow crash is tough. Sometimes my body feels good, but I’m mentally drained, and other times it’s the opposite, where I really want to work hard, but my body has had enough. Usually on Sundays (my rest day), both my mind and my body need a break.

A Brief Training History

In years past, I would be forced to take a break, usually due to mass amounts of school work which not only distracted me, but also required my full attention. During my high school years, I would eagerly look forward to 3:20 pm, when I could rush off to practice for a couple of hours. Sometimes I would even go play squash during lunch hour, if it coincided with a spare period!

In university, I would hop on the bike for a moderate 30 minute ride either before class, or before practice to warm up my mind and my body for the day. It felt good to accomplish something right off the bat. If I biked before class, I almost always had a more productive day and was more attentive in lectures. Similarly, a 20-30 minute warm up on the bike, or a solo-hit before practice helped me start practice with a positive mindset (and warm muscles!). In other words, bouts of physical activity benefited both my mind and body.

Throughout my high school and college years, I always aimed to do more. More sprints, more spin classes, more hours on court. I really felt that “more” always meant I would get better. Part of me sometimes wished I was a rower, because they had training twice a day! However, at meal times, rowers and swimmers would often complain of their massive volume of training. In fact, apparently most collegiate swimmers burn out due to the extremely high volume of training. (I never really wished I was a swimmer, because I don’t think I could stare at the bottom of the pool for hours on end). Looking back, I can imagine that these athletes had lost their appreciation for the sport, and lost some perspective. Given the academic workload and social scenes in college, I suppose this is why burnout eventually occurs in many college athletes of various disciplines.

Alright, I’m deviating a bit here, but bear with me.

Complacency and Training

Fast forward to current times, and my whole life revolves around health, fitness, and squash. Do I wish I had a desk job? Not at all. Are there times I wish I could sit down and blog for two hours instead of being on my feet? Sure. And I have learned  that when I feel that way, I need to take a break. It’s not always possible, since I have practice hits scheduled and lessons planned, and moreover, I feel badly saying “no”, both to others, and to myself.

I suppose this fear of saying “no” stems from a deep-rooted habit of always doing more training, for better or for worse. Since high school, I have been fearful of becoming complacent, despite being told by my coaches and family that this should not be a concern of mine. After all, to the outside, an overtrained athlete is someone who always wants to train, no matter their mental or physical state. This is not true. While there are times I have overtrained because I love working out and playing squash, there are also numerous occasions where I dragged myself onto the bike or pavement because of the fear of saying “no” or missing out.

I would be lying if I said I had overcome this. It is a balancing act, trying to figure out how much training to plan. If I’ve planned too much training, I feel badly if I don’t accomplish it all. If I plan too little, I fear it won’t be enough and that I’ll be missing out.

Learning to Not Think (Kind of)

While I continue to physically create a balance between training and resting (mostly through trial and error), my main area of focus is on the mind. Since last summer, I have been trying to grasp this notion of “a clear mind”. Have you ever tried not thinking? It’s very difficult, if not almost impossible. However, my focus is not to eradicate thinking, but rather to not let the thoughts have any power over me. My squash coach, John Musto, first introduced this concept to me at the end of last season. He lent me a book, The Path of No Resistance, which, to be honest, I’ve had a very difficult time reading. While the content is very good, it is complicated to read, and I found it even more difficult to explain to others, which just confused me further.

A few weeks after I opened the book, my nutritionist, Richard, introduced me to Headspace, a meditation app. I began to follow the 10-minute guided meditations every day, and finally, began to start to understand what John was trying to help me with.

During this time, I wasn’t playing squash at all (it was the off-season), so I was able to let go any sorts of worries (aka THOUGHTS), that I had pertaining to the sport. Using Headspace helped me reset my mind and my body, and allowed me to live my day to day life with more awareness and clarity. Sure, thoughts would still pass through my mind, but I felt better equipped to let them pass and not dwell on them. This not only altered my perception of training, but also my relationships with friends and coworkers. I felt more in control of my own life, rather than having my mood be subject to the actions and words of others, or random situations.

Process-Oriented Approach

When I lost to Hollie last week, John pulled me into his office to talk. We didn’t discuss a single thing that was tactical, technical, or physical. For 20 minutes, we discussed my mental approach to not only the game, but life in general. In the moment, I had lots of thoughts going through my mind, both positive and negative: I’m hitting the ball really well! Why are my arches cramping? Am I doing too much running? At least I seem fast. Maybe I should have tied my headband tighter. Uh oh, I’m down 9-3! That’s not very respectable. Yikes, I can’t catch my breath, and it’s 0-3 in the first game. I hope my friends aren’t disappointed they came all this way to watch me.

No wonder I was an anxious mess- it was exhausting just writing all of that out!

Since then, I have made a plan to regain my appreciation for competing and training, while not spending copious amounts of time and mental energy analyzing and dissecting thoughts.

The plan, or approach, is simple enough:

Mental:

Meditate using Headspace every day. The sessions can be anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes, but I do my best to accomplish a 10-minute session. Lately, instead of listening to music on Spotify, I have found myself wanting to listen to a guided meditation while commuting or walking around the city. I consider it “active rejuvenation”. How’s that for an oxymoron!?

Physical:

My physical “goals” are to do each of the activities for 10-30 minutes a week.

  • Yoga
  • Spin (can be by myself)
  • Solo hitting
  • Ghosting

The physical aspect of the process-oriented approach is as much mental as it is physical. As I mentioned earlier, accomplishing something physical not only gives you physical energy, but also provides you with a mental boost. Furthermore, it’s going to keep me accountable!

Moving Forward

If you’re still reading this- wow! You made it through a lot. I know that this post was kind of all over the map, but I just had to dive in. I’ll definitely be referring to the themes discussed in this post throughout the next little while, but look for more content regarding workouts and recipes too!

 

 

 

 

 

Slumps Happen

Happy 2018! I was meaning to write a post earlier in the month, but I got distracted by other things that needed attention. So here I am, almost at the end of January, finally settling down to write and publish my first post of the year.

A Foreword

The first part of this post is not the most upbeat. While I love my active and competitive lifestyle, there are occasional slumps, most of which I don’t discuss outwardly online. As an athlete, it can be difficult to acknowledge these times and figure out how to get through them- especially when there are competitions on the horizon. I almost didn’t write this post, because it doesn’t quite vibe with the rest of my writing, but figured it is reality, and there is no use in hiding it. I’m happy to report that I’ve worked hard to turn things around now, and am feeling much more like myself both on and off the court!

Beginning of 2018

This year got off to a bit of a rocky start. I returned to NYC feeling pretty tired physically, and mentally flat. Not once during my trip home over the holidays did I feel I played my best squash, or even enjoy it to the full extent, which was a bit demoralizing. A good part of my social life back home revolves around my beloved squash club, so I spent quite a bit of time at the courts playing, chatting, and training, despite the lacklustre squash.

Off the court, I really enjoyed my time back in Victoria. On the court, however, it was a different story. I was overly critical of my game, and I felt slow, lethargic, and heavy. In retrospect, I probably should have taken a week off of squash right before going home for Christmas. I had just come off of a string of tournaments where I had finally started to develop a game where I felt confident competing, and just lost the edge towards the end. In an effort to regain this “edge”, I played more and more, trying harder and harder to get “it” back. Funny how working harder isn’t always the right decision.

The first few weeks of this new year were a challenge. I returned to NYC still playing what I considered to be extremely flat squash, and this took a toll on me mentally. I felt pretty unmotivated to not only train on court, but off court as well. It’s a bit unnerving to have two of my favourite activities feel like a burden, and I so badly wanted to snap out of this funk.

Match vs Hollie Naughton (CAN)

Finally, about a week ago, I physically began to find my stride on court again, right in time for the Tournament of Champions. Unfortunately, my match against my compatriot, Hollie Naughton, didn’t go so well. While I wasn’t nervous going into the match, I did feel anxious. From the first point to the last, I couldn’t catch my breath, and my arches completely seized up. The rallies weren’t that long or exhausting, but nevertheless, my heart rate felt as though it had skyrocketed.

One of the most interesting yet frustrating things I encountered was the discrepancy between my perceived feeling of hitting the ball, and the result of the rallies. Technically, I felt like I was right there, stroke for stroke. Yet, somehow, I was losing most of the rallies. At the end of the match, I couldn’t even remember how I lost the points. The games seemed to go on forever, yet at the same time it was over in a blur. I was so stuck in my own head, while simultaneously thinking about things going on around me, mostly off the court. Doesn’t sound like a clear mind, nor a recipe for success, does it?!

Post-match Blues

Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased after my game with Hollie. I was definitely a bit sad and confused, and hoped that I would wake up on Friday and feel better. Friday morning arrived, and while physically I felt just fine, mentally, I was very much still in a fog. I felt tired and slow, and didn’t really know what to do with the day. ( I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like that before!). As planned, I took Friday off of squash completely, and ended up doing a light circuit as a workout at Body Space before watching the rest of the qualifying matches that evening. Spending time with friends on Friday night certainly helped put things in perspective, and put me back in a more positive mindset.

Finding Some Perspective

I woke up on Saturday feeling better, and knowing that I had to take action to change my mindset. I started by writing out a to do list, comprised of very achievable tasks (ie. making my bed, grocery shopping, emails, 30 minute workout). After making my bed (first accomplishment of the day!), I began with a 35 minute steady state bike at the gym. This not only gave me energy, but helped motivate me to continue on this productive path. I looked up interesting recipes to try out for meal prep, got another workout in, and perhaps most importantly, wrote a plan to get back on track with training, both mentally and physically. Having done all of this, plus enjoying a nice relaxing evening at home, I felt much better going into Sunday and the week having some guidelines and practices to help get me back into the swing of things.

This Week so Far

This week has started off very well. I’ve enjoyed every single moment on court and in training, and have generally been in a more positive mood. So far, my plan seems to be working well. In a nutshell, I’m trying to reset by focusing on the process of training, as opposed to purely outcomes. This has been helping me see every day as a new challenge and opportunity, rather than an obstacle that needs to be conquered.

Well, that’s all from me! I hope to be back soon with some updates regarding new training focuses, meals/nutrition, and some workouts!

Sprint to the Mid-Season Finish Line {Tournament Recaps}

Happy December!

I cannot believe the holidays are upon us, and that Christmas (and 2018!) is in only a week or so. Time flies when you’re training, working, traveling, and competing!

It was a busy first half of the season, and while I didn’t get too many great results, I learned and improved with (nearly) every match. In 10 weeks I competed in 7 tournaments. It sounds like quit a lot, which it is, but keep in mind that some of these were only one-match tourneys. In professional squash, as soon as you lose, you’re out of the tournament. Yep, that means you could fly all the way across the world for one match. Multiple times a year. It happens.

Here’s a little recap of the last 3 tournaments, which took place in Sarnia ON, London UK, and Monaco!

Sarnia Simon Warder Memorial Tournament

Last time I blogged, I was in Sarnia but had not yet played any matches. I won my first match against a top Canadian junior, Emma Jinks, putting me in the quarters against Micaala Seth, another fellow Canadian. I played pretty well against Micaala and managed to pull out a strong 3-0 win.

My third match was against Diana Garica (MEX), whom I’ve played twice before in PSA. The first time we played was early 2016, and I played quite poorly and lost 3-0. I managed to get some revenge a couple months later when I beat her 3-1 in Seattle.

Diana is a hard-hitting opponent, with a bit of deception if you leave the ball short and loose. Unfortunately, my accuracy was completely off, and while I almost got the second game, I went down 3-0 in the Semis. As the number 2 seed, this was a disappointing loss for me, but proved to be a good lesson. Despite being pretty out of whack physically, I should have better prepared myself mentally to go toe-to-toe with Diana. There are no easy matches in the pro leagues, and while I wouldn’t say I underestimated my opponent, I did not come out firing the way I had in my previous two matches.

London Open

After Sarnia, I had a week in NYC to recuperate and tune up for my next two events, both of which would take place in Europe!

I flew to London on a Sunday night red eye, arriving Monday morning in Gatwick. Since I was scheduled to compete Tuesday, this was a bit of a risky choice on my part. However, when I’d booked my flight, I hadn’t figured out where I was going to stay yet, and I didn’t feel like shelling out an extra $50-100 for a hotel, so I took the chance.

In the end, no hotel was necessary, as I ended up staying at Ally’s house, along with 5 other girls in the tournament. It was a bit of a commute to the club every day, but the price was right, and the company couldn’t be beat. There was always someone around to chat, hang out, or hit with. Plus, our daily “team” breakfasts of scrambled egg + avocado toast was worthy of 5 stars.

As for the squash, I dodged a bit of a bullet on Tuesday morning. I woke up to find I had been slotted into the main draw, as one of the Egyptian girls pulled out, allowing me to bypass all of qualification. I now had a couple extra days to acclimate and rest, before playing Amanda Landers-Murphy in the first round.

I played Amanda a month prior in the Granite tournament in Toronto, going down 3-0. Towards the end of the match I started to find my range, and honestly wished the match could have either continued or just started over! Needless to say, I was excited for the opportunity to play Amanda again, this time starting off with a bit more confidence.

Physically, I felt pretty good on court. I covered the court well, and found a decent length on the dead-as-a-graveyard court. However, my short game was absolutely non-existent. I must have hit 11 points worth of tins on volley drops- a shot which I usually enjoy hitting (much more often than normal drops). This tin-fest, combined with rollercoaster-like focus made it tough to win big points. I ended up losing in 11-9 in the 4th- a close result with lots to learn from, but I’m still kicking myself for losing focus at the end of the fourth. Amanda is quite experienced, and plays a solid, mature game, which stood up well in the crucial points. She also did a good job of punishing my weaker areas, and then using those lose shots to put the ball away.

Overall, I was pleased that I had played better than in Toronto (and of course, Sarnia), and was excited to get a bit more training in before flying down to the Cote d’Azur for my next event.

Monte Carlo Squash Classic

Saturday night I flew from London to Nice, where I’d be competing in the Monte Carlo Squash classic. Yes, Monte Carlo, Monaco! 

I’d never been to the south of France before, let alone Monaco, and was pumped to finish my Eurotrip in such an iconic place. Our hotel was amazing, overlooking a marina with yachts and sailboats, and a 2-minute walk from the squash venue. Plus, we had the most amazing breakfast included with our stay. Since Monaco is ridiculously expensive, we tried to cut corners with money as best we could, which meant making sandwiches for lunch out of breakfast food!

Although it wasn’t very good squash, I won my first round qualifying match 3-1, which put me up against Julianne Courtice later that day. I felt much better technically against Julianne than I had in my first round match, but felt tactically lost. Despite feeling pretty comfortable on court, I lost 3-0. Julianne played a very smart game, and didn’t give me much to work with. I hope I get the chance to play her again in the new year, because I’d like the chance to go toe-to-toe with her.

Next Up: Tournament of Champions, NYC

Now I’ve got a little break until my next tournament, which will be held here in NYC. I’m looking forward to some time away from competition, so that I can reset my mind and body before the second half of the season starts up.