Thessaloniki in Greece was the destination of of choice for our latest Squash World Tour match. Why Thessaloniki? Reason was a business trip of mine and cheap flights, which make for a nice city trip for Peter #teamyellow and Jasmin our content creator and vice president of the Squash World Tour.
And let me say: the Greek food and hospitality is second to none.Although large parts of the city beg for some renovation projects, people in Greece are friendly and the weather allows for some nice walks along the seaside. Which we obviously used for a bit of #sitesquashing
Unique Squash Court in Thessaloniki
Peter was already able to inspect the squash court at the YMCA Thessaloniki the day before, promising a little surprise for our game. He was giggling each time I mentioned the court. And then I understood why… Not only does it have “special” upper corners. It’s also about a meter shorter and thinner than a standard court. Finally we know how the bigger players feel on a normal court. Aaaand yes, and the tin was unusually high. Anyways, a special court need special rules and so we decided to count each interaction with the corners as a let ball.
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Check out Nasos’ comment underneath this post about the current squash situation in Thessaloniki: Unfortunately, this is what we only have as a solution, to practice our beloved sport here in Thessaloniki….along with an old squash court which is based inside Hyatt regency hotel. For years, we had our training center (two professional squash courts) based on a very modern gym called aquaforum, but unfortunately the Bank shut it down. Now we are learning padel, waiting for better circumstances for the sport that we so much love (squash)!!
Let’s play squash
After taking the “warm up game” we use to play, Peter #teamyellow had the privilege to serve. It became apparent in the warm up set that the higher lob serve was not going to be part of the game as the ceiling height just didn’t allow for it.
- In the first game I managed to get a good lead of 5 to 6 points, till Peter started his engines – but too late. The first game went 11-8 to #teamorange.
- The second also started promising for me before #teamyellow could read my shots better and thereby defend two game balls and ultimately took the game 12-10.
- The third set started like the second ended and I was getting frustrated as Peter anticipated my shots very well and I had the impression that I couldn’t put up enough pressure to make the point. I managed to hold on and equalized at 10-10, I even took the lead at 11-10. But my poor movement resulted in a stroke and two points later it was 13-11 and 2-1 in games for #teamyellow.
- But as per my usual tactics, there had now been a few lung opening rallies and together with better placement and better shot selection I could take the fourth game pretty swiftly with 11-5.
- So it had to be decided in the fifth game. Again. The previous wins and the fourth game gave me confidence, but Peter is not to be underestimated and I knew he was burning for retaliation to not let the “sweep” happen. And so he managed to get an early lead with good serves and a clever shot selection as well as improved precision.
I tried to keep the rallies short, playing to my strength and hoping for poor reactions due to tiredness. And it was enough to catch up and take a small point lead at 8-6 and 9-8. I remember diving a couple of times to still reach the balls that seemed to “die” a bit early in some areas. Even when not making the point, it’s important to let Peter know that #teamorange is fighting for every ball and no mistakes are allowed.
I managed to get a 10-9 lead and convert it 11-9.
3-0 sweep for Joel #teamorange
Another 3-2 win for Joel #teamorange on the 2021 Squash World Tour. And as this was probably our last game of the year given the current outlook, it is a 3-0 sweep.
No costs were avoided for the winner’s price on this very special court.
There was a small complication: the showers were closed due to Covid19 measures. And we had to go directly to the airport. Luckily, the sea is only a few minutes walk from the court. And so we decided to go for a little swim, as a courtesy to our fellow flight travelers. It wasn’t the nicest place nor the best time for a swim – but at least we where in the sea.
It also attracted some tourists – our estimate approximately as many as Alexander the Great – who will probably remember that squash players are the coolest.
Once again the Austrian government decided to enforce a lockdown to “celebrate” a Squash World Tour match and our return to Austria. (Last year after our trip to Slovenia the same thing happened – read the story!) We see it as an honor, but want to state clearly that we are humble in our taste for celebrations and we had nothing to do with the decision for said lockdown from 22 November – 11 December 2021.