What is it about a squash-playing woman that reverts the average racket-wielding joe into a goofy knock-kneed fifth grader?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at my club playing a match, minding my own business, working up a good sweat and trying to return the favor to my opponent, when between games someone will walk over to our court and mutter something about the presence of women players who have been spied playing a match a court or two away.
This is received as electric news, worthy of immediate investigation! Women players! Here?! Woo-hoo!
So the match is stopped and the decision is made to reconnoiter. Let’s just check this out…. But just like in fifth grade, you are self-conscious about going over and blatantly gawking. You have to play it cool; you are just going to casually stroll by, have a look, and get back to your game. You are a New York City sophisticate, for god sake!, so you pull yourself together, and off you go.
You stare at these creatures, marvelling at their form. There is something very sexy about a fit woman running the diagonal, glistening a bit with sweat, sure of her footwork and her positioning. You take in the sight, approving the backhand, the lunging, the skin…. The Squashist is married, and happily so, so the activity on court 3 is for him only an exercise in aesthetics.
The percentage of girls who play squash through high school is not so different from that for boys, but as the girls go on to college and become women, participation has historically dropped off. After graduation, the dual challenges of career and motherhood further reduce the number of female players.
Over the last few years, however, I have noticed an uptick in female participation, and though I am not sure why this has happened, I welcome the development. I like taking a break from my matches to check out the exotic creatures on court 3! Women, be advised: the Squashist may be watching….