¡Vamos! Squash en ToC!

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Samantha Teran (MEX) vs. Fiona Moverley (ENG)

“Mamosam!”

At least that’s what I thought I heard from my place on the bench outside of court #2 at the Yale Club in NYC.

Then, “Vamosam!” Was I watching the right women’s Tournament of Champions qualifying match?? I turned to the woman next to me and gestured at the very fit young woman in a pink tank top on the court. “What’s her name?” I asked.

“Samantha Teran,” she said, in a Mexican accent. “Sometimes we call her Sam or Sammy.”

Ah. Ah-ha. I realized now what they were really saying. “Vamos Sam!” Let’s go! Continue reading

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Big City, Bright Squash Lights – ToC 2016 Begins

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Women’s ToC qualifying match: Deon Saffery (WAL) vs Nicole Bunyan (CAN)

Ascending from the subway station at 42nd Street and the Avenue of the Americas still stirs the senses, even if you’ve lived in New York City for decades. Turn one way and it’s the glittery LEDs of Times Square. Turn another and it’s the softer, old-timey glow of Grand Central. In a day or so, I’d be headed that way for the main draws of the Tournament of Champions, but tonight I was only going up one block to 43rd and the Princeton Club. The women’s qualifying matches were there, Harvard Club on 44th, and Yale Club on Vanderbilt. They’re all within a block or so of each other.

 

At Harvard, you go up seven floors. At Yale, up five. At Princeton, you descend a level, so it feels a bit cave-like when you come off the elevator. Two courts are scooped out on either side of a carpeted lobby. Tonight, thick off-white curtains walled off the small gallery overlooking one of the courts. A man in a dark collared shirt relayed the score as two all. Wow, I said, two all! “No, two OH,” he corrected me. Oh. My girl was losing. Continue reading

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Penguins Know How to Party: An Ode to Howe Cup in Boston

jumpingpenguinsIt was the year of the penguins.
They looked left.
They looked right.
They looked cool in their black zoot suits, even as over two hundred women from fifty squash teams danced and sang and celebrated all around them.20151107_204509_LLS-ANIMATION

It was a glorious New England
autumn weekend.
Beginning with balmy soft air.
Then blowing and swirling red, gold, and yellow through breathtaking blue.
Ending with zipped up jackets and shivery sunshine. Continue reading

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What Do Greek Olives Taste Like? Revelations in the Peloponnese

Olive grove overlooking the Ionian Sea

Olive grove overlooking the Ionian Sea

“Here,” the man said, walking over to some waist high earthenware jars, “you should try these.” He lifted the dinner plate sized lid, revealing dark purple olives glistening in brine. He took a ladle and scooped up four or five olives. “Take one,” he directed, holding the ladle out to us. I picked out one, the size of my thumbnail and put it on my tongue. Continue reading

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What’s better than the best burger in NYC? Victory at the ToC!

Beer and burger at the Ear Inn, NYC

Beer and burger at the Ear Inn, NYC

What could be better than a mid-afternoon lunch at one of New York’s oldest bars—the Ear Inn, the Australian Open on the telly, and a cold beer and warm burger in front of you? Not much, trust me. But I was eating late so I could last through two finals at the Tournament of Champions in Grand Central. And I was definitely hoping that they’d give my burger a run for the money. Continue reading

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Who’s Afraid of a Five Game Match?? Not the Women.

Nour El Sherbini vs. Allison Waters, ToC Semifinals 2015

Nour El Sherbini vs. Allson Waters, ToC Semifinals 2015 :  iphone photo credit: Clayton Gates

Deep into one of Thursday evening’s women’s semifinal matches at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, a woman sitting near me yelped loudly with disappointment. One of the players on court had made an error, losing the point. Usually, many other spectators are vocal enough to make it a group groan, but in this instance the crowd had quieted and her voice broke the hushed silence. “Sorry, sorry!” she whispered, a bit mortified. But I quickly smiled at her and nodded. I could relate. That was usually me apologizing.

I love to see other women utterly enthralled and involved by watching a sport. And both semifinal matches had me cheering and clapping, stomping and eye-rolling, as well. The evening began early with Raneem El Welily (EGY, rank 2) and Laura Massaro (ENG, rank 3). So early, that my end-of-day dash from work involving two subway trains and a game of dodge-the-Metro-North-train-commuter made me miss all but the last few points of the first game. I was still breathing heavily as El Welily took those points to an 11-7 win. Continue reading

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A Night of Frustration, Exhaustion, Surprise, and Predictability

42nd Street on a Winter's Night

42nd Street on a Winter’s Night

New York in winter. West Village wood smoke in the cold air. A steaming slice of John’s pizza burning your tongue. The white lights of the Chrysler building shining more beautiful than any constellation. It is supposed to be snowing, but instead the Bryant Park skaters will have to do without the added atmosphere. And in Vanderbilt Hall, where four glass walls gleam under a grand chandelier, no one cares about snow. They’ve come to watch squash, and talk squash, with friends who play squash. They don’t care about snow.

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Camille Serme vs. Laura Massaro; ToC 2015

The women’s quarter finals of the J. P. Morgan Tournament of Champions are frustrating and exhausting, predictable and surprising. At lunchtime, I get frustration. Along with a dose of exhaustion. Camille Serme (FRA, rank 6)) goes quickly up two games against Laura Massaro (ENG, rank 3) 11-3, 11-4 with her aggressive volleys that keep Massaro scrambling and just a step behind. By the end of the second game, I’m already writing her off. But the wind changes and Massaro shows that she’s not seeded 2nd for nothing. Continue reading

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