Nash Cup 2018

Where has September gone?! I feel as though I moved into my new place in Stamford in the hottest weather ever, got settled, and now all of a sudden, pumpkin spice products are everywhere! I’ve also been traveling for part of the month, which always makes time seem like it’s going by in a flash.

My newest book… pretty fitting, in numerous ways.

Two weekends ago I traveled to Cincinnati to help coach a junior tournament, came home for two days, and then flew off to London, Ontario, last Wednesday for the Nash Cup! Nash Cup is always a fun way to kick off the PSA season. This was my third time playing the event, and can without a doubt say that it’s always a fun-filled time, thanks to the unwavering enthusiasm of the London Squash and Fitness club members!

Sam (who made it to the final!), me, and Phill

I was originally meant to play the wildcard, Paula Jenkins, in the first round, but after a couple withdrawals, I received a bye. This put me up against the no 2 seed, Nadine Shahin, of Egypt. I’ve seen Nadine play a few times, so I had a good idea of what to expect- fast pace, boasts from the back, and lots of low hard drives. After two practices, I began to adjust to the faster courts, but found myself struggling to control the hot and bouncy ball, mainly in the back corners.

The match started off well, and I felt mentally confident and composed. This attitude didn’t waver much throughout the match, which hopefully bodes well for this season, I think. Last season, I played numerous matches where I felt anxious and overburdened with random thoughts. During the match against Nadine, I mentally felt pretty good, but physically didn’t feel confident to execute exactly what I needed to do.

Wise words from someone… although I did find this sign sitting beside the garbage.

I found that when I stepped up and volleyed, I was able to control the play, but the combination of Nadine’s hard drives and the fast front wall limited the frequency and accuracy of my volleys. I also think I needed to be a bit quicker with my racquet prep and off the T, to make my drives from the back of the service box a bit more consistent. While a lot of the rallies were close, I ended up spraying too many drives a bit too loose, which gave her the chance to tee up and hit some kills (or wicked boasts). Speaking of boasts… in the third game, Nadine began to boast much more from the back of the court, because I wasn’t hitting good enough length, and I just wacked them cross court- right back to her. And yes, “wacked” is a very technical squash term, here meaning “smacked the ball without much thought, usually when rushed”. Let’s just say I’ve been spending some time working on the counter drop this week.

In the end, I lost 3-0, all games about 11-6 or 11-7. I didn’t feel that the match was out of reach, but was very aware that I have a couple things I need to fix. More than anything, it was a good test to see how I held up mentally in competition (after an anxious and burnt out 2017-2018 season), and also how my technique/tactics fared after summer training.

Squash aside, Nash Cup was fun as always. I love catching up with some of the Canadian locals, and they’re always so generous and kind. (If you’re not careful, this can get you in trouble on the Saturday night!).

Much needed

Big thank you to Brad and Jen, who hosted me for the week, and to the promoter (Jay Nash) and volunteers/staff who helped run the tournament. You guys are the reason why people loving coming back to this tournament!

I’ve got 3 weeks now until my next tournament, Carol Weyemuller, which will be held in Brooklyn. Time to get back to training!

 

Nash Cup 2017

My 2017-2018 squash season has officially commenced!

Held in mid-September, the Nash Cup is usually one of the first tournaments of the fall, and is always one that the pros look forward to. Not only is there great competition (both 15k purses for men and women), the members are extremely excited and involved.

Pre-Tournament Prep in Windsor

A few days before the tournament, I flew up to Windsor, Ontario, to train with the Canadian women’s national coach, Graeme. About a month ago, he held an optional training camp, which proved to be one of the best training stints I’ve participated in in a while. Five full days of ~4-6 hours of on court training a day with top players- it doesn’t get much more motivating or intense than that! At the end of the camp, Graeme invited us to come up to hit and sharpen up prior to the Nash Cup, and I decided to take him up on his offer.

I ended up being the only one in Windsor for the pre-tournament prep, but that didn’t mean that there was a lack of squash! In between or after training sessions, I hit with some members, and also helped coach clinics and lessons. During my sessions with Graeme, we focused mostly on deep shots (drives and some cross courts), and taking the ball early.

A big thank you to the Windsor squash club, my host family (Moceris!), and Graeme for being so welcoming and supportive.

Match vs Millie

I knew roughly a month prior to the tournament that I would be pitted against the #1 seed, and world ranked #22, Millie Tomlinson. I had only played the Englishwoman once before, in Chicago this past spring. Although the game scores were respectable, Millie won that encounter in a reasonably decisive 3 games.

Drawing upon that experience and my current game, I began to formulate an idea of how the upcoming match might play out. Millie has a very consistent game, and prefers to hit most of her shots to the back with pace. She is very quick and reads the game well, so short shots can seem ineffective against her when played poorly or at the wrong time.

I went into the match half-expecting to be stuck behind Millie for the majority of the rallies, but surprised myself by stepping up on the T, and volleying. As my coach, John would say, I was going “toe to toe with her in the back court”. Compared to many of the higher ranked players, I have usually found my length game to be less consistent and less accurate, so this was a welcomed surprise.

Unfortunately, I found that although I was creating opportunities from the back, I reverted to “amateur squash”, when trying to attack and finish a rally.

In terms of attacking, I think I went wrong in 2 ways:

  1. I went short often at the wrong time, when I wasn’t quite in position
  2. I got nervous and doubted myself when it was time to play an attacking shot

Although I lost 3-0, I wasn’t overly disappointed with the match, as it pointed out several things that I need to work on, and also gave me the opportunity to test myself against a top player.

What’s Next?

I’ve got a couple of weeks now until my  next tournament, Carol Weyemuller, which is here in Brooklyn, NY! Time to train up on and off court, and see if I can play better in this tournament.