While most of Amsterdam woke up to sun (at last!) and thoughts of the beach on Saturday morning, 3 of the Squash Stars (Nicol, Annelize and myself) and our webmaster Kid de Winter had more important things on their minds—World Squash Day and The Battle of the Sexes at Amstelpark—our tan-seeking would have to wait. Our orange-haired Dutch colleague Annelize is the head pro at Amstelpark and she organised a fun day of squash for all including King of the Court, Lightning Squash and several exhibitions with the ladies premier division team pitted against men of varying levels including past and present Dutch team members. To publicise the event our current World Champion Nicol even designed a poster for the day herself—is there any end to her talents one wonders?!
Battle of the sexes
Kid was among the first to play and after an outstanding first game decided to lull the guys into a false sense of security with their first win, losing in a narrow 4 setter to Martin Spijker. Team mate Annemarie however, managed to beat Julien Suzor in 4 games, so the score was even. Cigany Sierveld then put up a brave fight and kept her opponent Sander Bunck quite busy on the court. Despite some good squash and some close games, Cigany couldn’t win the match. Next up was Annelize against former member of the Dutch National team Eric Smit, who’s now a journalist here in Holland. After cruising to a 2-0 lead (after which Eric thought the game was over as he assumed it was a best of 3!) Annelize went down in 5 games. Another win for the men, oh dear.
Ever so close!
Meanwhile on the other court, I was playing a Rotterdam based Dutch player named Michael Ernst who I reckon was about 9-feet tall and hit the ball at approximately a hundred miles an hour (at least that’s what it felt like from where I was standing…). Michael and I battled it out for over an hour or so, again I was leading 2-0, was sure I had him on the ropes when he found some second and third winds to take the match 3-2. And I thought I was going out for a nice game of social Saturday squash, by the end of it I was calling for the stretcher he had me running around so much…
Nicol to save the day?
So our hope for a win and some salvaging of self-respect rested on Nicol’s shoulders. She took to the court against René Mijs who’s currently no. 4 on the Dutch mens’ team and took the first game in a close battle. She had the crowd enthralled with her lightning fast movement around the court and amazing retrieving as René used his holds and flicks to great effect. It was not to be our day however and despite some help from the ref (our very own Kid de Winter!) Nicol lost in 4 as well. However the show itself was worthy of the huge applause both players received after the match and I reckon overall us girls can walk away with our heads held high!
The crowd enjoyed the day, lots of club players were taking part in the other events held alongside the exhibition, so all in all a very successful World Squash Day here in Amsterdam.