The wine was flowing, the people were clapping, the racquets were flying . . . It appeared to be a typical NYSquash League Women’s 4.0 match. Only it wasn’t so typical on this night; it was the division finals. And Eastern Athletic Club was playing a team who were close to their equal in the vino drinking and fan club cheering department—Sports Club LA.
It’s interesting (and heartening) to me that the two teams that made it to the finals were probably the most cohesive and social in a field of eleven. Both teams often arrive at their rival’s club as a posse, and sometimes with non-playing team members in tow. When they have a home match, they bring bottled refreshment. A match morphs into a party. And whether they win or lose, they often go out together afterward to a local restaurant and invite the opposing team to join them. I was there for one such outing and it was the most fun evening of the season.
Well, except for the finals.
SCLA and EAC know how to put on a finals night. While only eight women were playing a total of four matches, both teams were there in (almost) full and made a point to invite other squash club members, pros, family, and friends—including an architect from Brooklyn, a pro from Connecticut, a seven months pregnant teammate, a gentleman on crutches, and a friend who hadn’t played squash since school, but was inspired to pick it up again.
And who wouldn’t want to pick it up again (or for the first time) on an evening like this? By the time the second match was underway, the wine bottles were coming uncorked and the EAC captain—and hostess extraordinaire—was pouring glasses of various vintages for anyone within reach. Thankfully, I was. Although trying to balance a cup of cabernet with a Nikon takes more than squash skills. As does observing the intricacies of a game while peering through a lens and taking personal bets on where the ball will end up next, because that’s where you want your camera pointing.
Looking through a camera at a squash match is a new game for me and, admittedly, I was so focused (all puns are intended) on taking photos that I didn’t give a lot of thought to the actual matches on the other side of my lens. Which might have been just as well; writing about people you know can get awkward and I had friends on both teams. But who doesn’t like a nice photo of themselves? Which is how I ended up taking over three hundred of them*, because I knew many would not be so nice. Due to the photographer, not her excellent subjects.
So which team ended up victorious? It came down to the last match and one game. But I will tell the rest of the story in photos…with a few captions for clarity. One thing should be clear without words, however—want your team to make it to the finals? Start having a good time, and practice that a lot.
* Special thanks to my husband who patiently introduced me to the first fraction of Photoshop, lent me his camera, and didn’t knock me over the head with it which my impatience probably deserved.