Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Squashist Is Not Dead -- It Just Seems That Way

I had to laugh a while ago when a blogger bemoaned the death of the Pro Squash Tour on the Daily Squash Report's website. I thought, that's funny, I don't think Joe McManus would let the PST quietly curl up and die, not at least without a little sturm und drang before kicking it.

So I wasn't surprised to read that the PST is not in fact dead, and of course the Squashist ain't dead yet either.

The PST's often-entertaining e-zine, which also seems to be the best place to get juicy squash gossip, ran a little piece yesterday about my last blog and commenting upon my evident demise, a sorry state of affairs caused by a bum knee that forced me to hang up my squash togs and throw away my racket forever. At the end of last year I announced that I had had enough, time to move on, thank you very much, and goodbye. 

I got a few emails expressing disappointment, urging me onwards or offering sympathies. I'm happy that PST took the time to notice my "passing."

A funny thing happened though.... 

I continued rehabbing at my club, which is the Princeton Club of NYC. You can't enter the gym area without looking down into the two squash courts, and because of that proximity squash kept beckoning to me, come hither it said. The lure was not the sweet singing of the sirens but the plonk-plonk-plonking of the squash ball and the occasional agonized screams of the players -- all music to my ears. As I made my way to the gym to rehab, trying fruitlessly to avoid the magnet of squash, I grimly recalled a great poem about New York City by John Reed, whose words might well apply to me and the great sport of squash:  

Who that has known thee but shall burn
In exile till he come again
To do thy bitter will, O stern
Moon of the tides of men!

I'd climb up on the bike for another 20-minute rehab session, ever hearing the alluring noises from the courts below, mocking my decision to give up the game, and the nub of doubt would eat away at my soul....

Within ten days I was back on court. 

Adjustments were necessary. I've had to accept a lower level of play. I've had to time things such that I need 15-20 minutes of warming up the knee before I get on the court for the knock-up. I've had to realize that on some days the old knee just doesn't want to run that much, and if I'm caught off guard and my opponent does a sudden dropshot that I didn't anticipate, there is no way in hell I'm going to try to run that ball down. My movement on the court looks a lot like a guy dragging a dead appendage behind him. John Musto, the pro there, has stared at my movement with a look that can best be described as somewhere between pitying and shocked. ("Oh mio dio," he has mumbled.)

So there have been compromises, but I am indeed playing the game and I am indeed having fun doing it. (I'm also playing a bit of tennis on har-tru or clay courts, which are easier on the knees.) 

So the Squashist is back, thank you very much. Still playing, and always anxious for a game. It's an addiction, and I need my fix. Indeed, at the end of May I will take my game to international shores, as I am going to visit Stockholm on business where I hope to play a little socialist squash. I hear the balls there are red....


  1. too bad you don't understand the difference between socialists and social-democrats even if meant in a ironic way... still squash is good in Stockholm.

  2. Actually I do understand the difference between the two, and indeed feel there's much to admire about the Swedish model. Particularly healthcare, which in the US, far from being the 'best in the world', as we are regularly told, is a mess. I've talked to many leading academic doctors and many agree with me -- its time for universal healthcare in the US. But the US population is afraid of 'socialism', so its untenable....

  3. "Adjustments were necessary. I've had to accept a lower level of play."
    How much lower than "4 year old recovering from lower extremity fracture" could it get?

  4. James, your blog of hanging up the racket was like another nail in the coffin for our game and its aging demographic. Truly warms my heart you are back on court.

  5. Shawn, thanks for getting in touch, hope you are doing okay. Hope your knees are better than mine!

  6. Thank you very much for sharing such a beautiful article.

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Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....