Washington, DC — In the three years that I have been playing squash for GW, I have been to Yale twice including this weekend. Standing on those courts surrounded by some of the best players in the country I am consistently in awe of those people who are so good at a sport that a great deal of people below the Mason Dixon line have never even heard of. Washington DC is also below that line, and, as should be expected, many of my fellow students at GW not only have no idea that we have a team, but also don’t know what squash is outside the grocery store. Despite the small fan base it has around the country, I am consistently blown away by the amount of people who turn out to see these amazing athletes play their matches, and I too wish I could watch every one of them. However, with the exception of the occasional high ranking, sometimes ill tempered men’s matches that occur on the glass courts, I can usually only see ours, and in all honesty, that is more fun for me anyways.
We went into this weekend knowing that something big needed to happen, and that would need to come in the form of a victory against Bowdoin, a team we’ve never beaten in our program’s history. A match that in previous years would have resulted in a slaying of us by our northern friends for once became one that went our way. Believe me, after our devastating loss to Georgetown a couple months ago, the win over Bowdoin did not come a moment too soon. This match will stick in my memory for a few reasons, the first one obviously being the 6-3 victory we achieved. The second one has to do with my friend Lauren Mathieu winning the second game of her match 28-26 in what has to be the longest game thus far with this new scoring system. I will not soon forget the players from other teams eager to see just how long the game could go on, and the whisperings of several people, including myself, asking “If this game can go this long, how long do you think the match will actually take?” A legitimate question if you ask me. Thankfully that game was simply an anomaly and we were able to get out of there before my bedtime.
The final reason I’ll remember the Bowdoin match is that following Lauren’s match I discovered that the girl she played was from Atlanta, my hometown. I have always enjoyed watching my teammates catch up with the girls they played with or against in high school, even though I knew I would never run into an old friend at a match. For the first time in my brief squash career, I had common ground with someone. Despite the awkwardness that sometimes results in talking to your own opponent or a teammates opponent following a match, I always do enjoy getting to know them just a little bit, and this introduction was definitely fun for me.
Though we went into Saturday fresh off our big win the night before, Bates and Middlebury — two great teams that have always given us trouble and clearly show no signs of letting up — routed us. In the midst of these matches I realized that I find it mildly amusing to watch the people getting taped and iced at the height of their big weekend. I can think of few things as uncomfortable as walking around with two bags of ice taped to your knees hoping that the pain goes away, or is at least numbed, in time for your next match. I guess I had it coming because I too got iced up in perhaps the most beautiful fashion of all: ice on my back, which, once the wrapping masterpiece is completed, looks like a corset, a classy look for anyone living in the 21st century. After a good six hours at the courts that included losing two matches, watching our men lose, and playing with a bulldog sitting in an office (a dog that I should point out is far friendlier and much softer than our dead patriot of a mascot), we returned to the hotel tired, sore, and ready for bed.
We went into Sunday’s match against Colby tired and ready to go home, yet we knew that we could produce another exciting win, and despite our exhaustion, it would be well worth it to fight through. Although it was not the quick match that we would have appreciated it to be, we managed a 6-3 win against them, and I think that I would take that glorious victory any day over the possibility of getting home just a little bit earlier with the agony of defeat weighing on our shoulders during the six hour bus ride that included more episodes of the O.C than I have seen since high school. Seeing Ryan and Marissa finally get together would not have been nearly as exciting without that big W.
Our weekend at Yale was everything we wanted it to be. We peaked at all the right times against the right teams, and showed the teams that beat us that we can be their competition as well. I looked at the sports section of our school paper this morning and saw articles on the losing streak of our women’s basketball team, and a hefty chunk of print dedicated to a girl on the team who appears to have spent most of the season sidelined. Was there anything in there about the team that even though after falling in the ranks considerably is still one of the better teams at our school, a team that routed difficult competition? There was not. Though people at GW will not get to read about our unprecedented weekend in New Haven, I, along with some of my closest friends, got to live it, and that is enough for me. When I graduate in May what I will miss most will be these long squash weekends at schools I never expected to set foot near, and the time I spent playing a sport alongside some of the best players from the best schools with some of my best friends.