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‘A Day in the Life of a Professional Squash Player’ (Part 4)

Part 4. China

I’m writing this on the plane home from Shanghai. It’s a 12 hour day flight which is probably the hardest flight. Day flights are no fun, it’s so hard to sleep. I have watched 3 episodes of ‘The Killing’ so far and the flight time remaining is telling me 6 hours 12 mins to go!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhh. I’m only halfway and I’m as bored as hell.

So Shanghai was the final stop in this miniseries of tournaments. This was always going to be tough as from Philadelphia the time difference is 12 hours ahead so sleeping could prove difficult. I had got my head round this trip and was looking forward to playing especially as the American tournaments hadn’t gone as well as I would have liked. It’s sometimes quite nice to get straight back out there and get on with it and I had got my head more or less in shape and wanted to show myself I could bounce back.

Shanghai is an interesting place, it’s strange as it’s an 12 hour flight which is a long way but you really do feel like you are literally miles away from home. It’s tough with the language barrier at times and makes for some funny conversations. I rang up the hotel reception once asking for the maintenance man to come and fix a light and me asking for the maintenance man was reception thinking I was asking for the internet and then checking out. So Its hard as you end up laughing really hard whilst trying to get something done. You kind of just have to go with the flow in China and this was the theme for the week.

The first few days were pretty brutal for jetlag. It was the hardest I have ever experienced. It was a zombie like feel for the first few days with trying to practice and getting used to the courts at the same time.

It was almost better when the first round started as when you have a match your body  has to get ready for it so even if you are feeling jetlagged you literally have to switch into gear otherwise you are going home. First round for me was vs Nouran Gohar. An up and coming Egyptian player and one to definitely keep an eye on in the future. I wasn’t taking her lightly going into the match as she had beaten two seeds in qualifying so I knew she was playing well. I won 3-0 but it wasn’t easy and I was really impressed with Nouran. I really enjoyed the match and felt like I played well especially after two disappointing tournaments my goal this tournament was to go and enjoy playing and just play my game. I did this and it was a good start.

Quarter finals moved onto the glass court which was outside on the harbour front. It was a good location but it was a cold night and proved some tricky conditions for everyone. I was up against Nat Grinham who has been up to number two in the world so I knew that it would be a tough match. I started well and Nat seemed to take a bit longer to get used to the conditions. So I found myself 2-0 and 5-1 up and signs were looking good and I was feeling good. Nat to her credit dug in well and changed her game and tactics around. I think I had 3 match balls in the 3rd but couldn’t convert any of them. It was tough as Nat had the momentum going into the 4th game and on a court where it’s dead the momentum can change so quickly and once it’s switched its a real fight to get it back. I didn’t get it back and ended up losing 3-2.

Tough to take especially having match balls in the third and matches like that you end up playing over in your head thinking all I needed was one point to win 3-0 and I end up losing 3-2. That one final point can be the hardest point which is crazy as it should just be thought about as any other point. It being match ball should be irrelevant.

I felt much better and played much better than I did in Philadelphia so that is a positive to take home with me and something I can use to move on from these tournaments and focus on what’s coming up ahead. So after a month of travelling I’m looking forward to getting back home for a bit of normality. I have a month before the next tournament in Hong Kong so this gives me time to freshen myself up and change things around a bit. I’m always learning and hopefully I will look back at this time and think yes I needed to go through this rough patch to work out what I actually really want in squash. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

This is the last part of ‘Life as a touring pro’ and I have enjoyed writing down and sharing my thoughts and feelings during and after tournaments and my life away from home. It’s actually been quite hard writing this as squash wise it hasn’t been the best month and when you lose it is defiantly harder to write down how you’re feeling as you just want to forget about it. It’s easy to write a blog when you are winning and playing well so this has been a challenge in itself for me and actually I think it has helped me by writing this. Hope you have enjoyed it as well.

Ali

email: alisquash@outlook.com

 

 

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