Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Great One: A Meeting With Peter Nicol at the ToC

Serendipity smiled on me this past Friday. As a commuter who goes through the lovely Grand Central Terminal every day to get to work, I went by the Tournament of Champions site on Friday night. I will be attending Monday night's quarter-finals, but I like to hang out at the ToC as much as possible when the games are on. I see a lot of my fellow squash addicts from the city and we get to indulge our addiction in sight of the best of the best. And it is quite a show! One of the fun things to do is to hang out on the opposite side of the front wall of the squash court and listen to the comments from everyday New Yorkers who are looking at squash for the first time. Some of the comments are absolutely hilarious. One from Friday, as a youngish couple gazed wide-eyed at the spectacle of the very close Touminen-Waller match : "What the HELL!? Just looking at that makes me tired!" She rolls her eyes; he looks annoyed.

Event Engine knows how to do these things right. And it turns out I know the engine in Event Engine from my long-ago youth. Melissa Winstanley works with John Nimick to organize these events, a fact I only recently became aware of. And on Friday, lo and behold, there she was. Back then she was called Missy Conkling, my next-door neighbor growing up in suburban Nyack, 30 miles north of the Big Apple. My parents actually bought the Conkling's old house; the Conkling's then built a new house on the parcel of land next to ours. When anyone brings up Missy Conkling in our family, it's always accompanied with the phrase, "I always thought Missy was great...."

We hadn't seen one another in over 30 years, so we had a very nice chat and caught up on the various doings of our family members. She then offered to introduce me to her daughter, who lives in Scotland (that should have tipped me off...). "Sure, she's right over there." We go over to say hello, and I see this beautiful young lady sitting talking to a man. He looks familiar, though I can only see half his face. Then I realize who it is: Peter Nicol!

Now I looooove Peter Nicol. You may recall in an earlier blog (here) I opined that Peter was the best player of the past decade (tied with Shabana). Despite interrupting a private conversation, Peter was very pleasant and interested in my ramblings about squash topics. In addition to being one of the greatest players of the game ever, he is a relentlessly positive ambassador for squash and blessed with a stellar personality. He is every bit the gnetleman he is purported to be. And, it turns out, he is marrying the daughter of my long-ago next-door neighbor!

He told me he hasn't been playing a whole lot of top-level squash lately, so it will be tough for him on Monday when he plays Jonathan Power. Nonetheless, he's still very fit and I expect a good showing.

I have a very nice picture of us sitting together chatting, which to protect my secret identity I can't share with the world at large!

If you are in New York City, or anywhere near it, check out Event Engine's ToC. It may surprise you!

1 comment:

  1. Wow that is an amazing story. I wish I lived in New York and could go to the ToC. I love Peter Nicol! Though I must confess I favor Jonathon Power's style! Thanks for the great story!


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