By: Matt Serediak, Touring Squash Professional | Toronto Athletic Club
As the weather becomes nicer, we all start taking a break from the squash courts and shift our activities outdoors. This break is nice and refreshing not only for the body but the mind as well. The Pro Squash Tour is no exception to this. As May and June roll around we see less tournaments on the calendar and many of us use the summer months for a much-needed break from competition and do some off court training and coach a few camps. With the break looming most of us look to make one last push to improve the ranking and use the results to fuel our off-season training. I decided to play five tournaments in seven weeks (New York City, Las Vegas, Guatemala, Paraguay and British Virgin Islands).
My first event was in the New York City area (Greenwich, Connecticut to be exact). This tournament was a smaller event, a PSA 5K, which meant that my ranking was high enough that I didn’t have to qualify and was seeded 7th. My opening round was against a physical player from Jordan. Unfortunately, I lost 12-10 in the 5th while having match balls at 10-9. It was a frustrating match full of contact and lets. Not something I enjoyed and was especially sour losing while having match balls.
I had a week back in Toronto to do some training to try and fix what went wrong for the upcoming three tournaments. Las Vegas was a PSA 10k and I had to play in the qualifying draw, as everyone wanted to play in Sin City. My first match was against a Mexican player, who I beat in a long 3-1. Then I had a player from India who I took down 3-2. Those two wins meant I qualified for the tournament and I drew the top seed from Mexico in the opening round. Unfortunately, the two previous matches took a bit too much out of my legs and I lost 3-0. I was disappointed with my play on court but I was pleased to still have found a way to win…and avoid the perils of Las Vegas!
Right after Vegas I flew down to Guatemala City to play their PSA 25k. Playing in Central and South America is a whole different beast than playing in North America. Food and water can become an issue and the courts are open air (no AC), so you have to deal with the heat and humidity of your surroundings. Plus, Guatemala City is at a high altitude so we use a different ball and doing anything at high altitudes always becomes extra difficult! I played two members of the Guatemalan National Team, and dispatched them both 3-0, and qualified for the largest event I had ever qualified for. I drew a player from Malaysia and lost 3-0, but none the less it was a good performance.
From Guatemala I flew to Asuncion, Paraguay. The tournament was a PSA 10k and I was straight into the main round. Thankfully, we were down at sea level, but the weather was much more humid, so the conditions on court were physically challenging. I had a player from Switzerland opening round, and won 3-0. In the quarterfinals I had a player from England who I beat last time we played. This time, however, he got the better of me 3-1. I was disappointed to let a good semi-final opportunity slip through my grasp, but it had been a good three weeks of tournaments. One week back in Toronto and then off to the BVI for my final event of the season.
My training week in Toronto was a good one, but it was tough as I was mentally tired from the previous four tournaments. Just one more tournament though and I could take a bit of a break. Playing in the BVI was my first time going to the Caribbean, and being there in June meant the sun was hot. Outside it was 35+ degrees with humidity, and it was even hotter on court! These conditions were the most extreme I had ever played in. I would lose close to 10lbs a match and was changing shirts every game and socks every two games. There was even a point where I was sweating through my shoes! The tournament was a PSA 5K and I was seeded 5th for the event. The conditions were tough for everyone, and I played good squash making it to the semi-finals, beating players from Guyana and the British Virgin Islands 3-0 and 3-2. I ended up losing 3-0 to a player from Wales. I was pleased with my showing though and happy to be done my whirlwind tour of five tournaments in seven weeks.
New rankings for the PSA World Tour come out on the 1st of every month and with my recent results I am poised to move to a new career best! I am anxiously awaiting the new rankings and looking forward to a bit of a break.