Monday, July 18, 2011
With a squad session under our belt and lactic acid in our muscles, Olivia and her 'hornet' lead the way to the Blatchford house for a very necessary bite before the long(ish) journey to Boston. Though it was clear Mrs.
Blatchford had essentially bought out the entirety of Walmart's American flag collection, an aura of eagerness and pride was undoubtedly tangible as the team devoured burgers, or in Bean's case the cheese plate.
As we finished up dinner and managed to maneuver approximately 21 bags, 9 people and 1 megaphone into the dimensions of a white van ( in essence our batmobile) we waived goodbye and began our drive.
Now I've been on a few of these, well maybe a few more than a few and mind you we've always been traveling by plane so team mingling or journey experiencing is a foreign feeling to me, but we had the most wonderful and truly incredible thing flowing throughout the van. An air of ease, of comfortableness, of acceptance, of closeness that can only be described in one word TEAM penetrated through the entire vehicle.
Yes we had managed to take 7 completely different girls and become an entity where we could push each other and laugh with each other.
As we arrived at the Hyatt, and were eagerly greeted by offensive ten year old, Darien lacrosse boys we headed to the coaches room for an ''in the clouds' talk where we threw around ideas of team and country representation and then more important things like breakfast and Jack's addiction to team uniformity.
Though we risk things such as 'bodily injury, paralysis, and dismemberment' ( direct quotation from the liability waiver US Squash gave us to sign...) we are ready, ready to fight, ready to enjoy and ready to win.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Peter Briggs (the head pro at the Apawamis club) generously allowed Team USA to use their facilities whenever we needed. At Apo Nat always pushed us to the limit on court and then sent us upstairs to the gym to work some more with Max (the gentle giant – Hulk man of a trainer.) Over the four months we could really see all of our work paying off.
One of Nat’s favorite exercises…the deathly 2,000 meter row was one example. Don’t try this at home people (in fact, I had my Dad try in the basement gym at the Heights Casino and he didn’t make it.) The goal is to row your butt off (literally) and get 2,000 meters in eights minutes or under. The first time we did this Nat said it will be hard but all of you will definitely be able to do it. We – as big-time, hot-shot athletes – strolled upstairs to the rowing machine and thought this would be easy. Bean’s first go took her upwards of 10:45…we had a long way to go and Natalie was not impressed. I still don’t know how she does it – but Liv (B) just keeps improving her time. She started at 9:30, worked her way down to 8:30, and two weeks ago got the best team time of 8:06! Go Liv (B)!
In my case I came to my first squad barely able to do three push-ups in a row…Nat had me doing push-ups every day (I liked to do them when I brushed my teeth every night so I always remembered.) Long story short – I’m now cranking out sets of 25. My shoulders don’t quite look like Amanda’s yet, but we can now do the same amount of push-ups!
Along with our weekly training squads in Rye, we have done a few overnight squads together as a team as well. We did an all American team squad in Hartford for a couple nights, a month ago, where we got some good sessions in with Gilly Lane, Julian Illingsworth and the entire American crew. It was a lot of fun to be able to all play together. We also did an overnight in Philly (we figured it was fair to Liv (F) and Jack that we all came down to them for once,) and the Fietcher’s were nice enough to host us all for the trip.
And throughout this whole intense training schedule the US Team was also doing various exhibition matches along to East Coast as good practice and to try and promote the World Juniors. We started off the matches when we lost 5-0 to the Heights Casino team out in Brooklyn Heights – the good news was we could only do better. Then the Apowamis team barely escaped with a win beating us 3-1 but Beans and I both lost in five-gamers that could have gone either way. We were happy, we had at least gotten one win under our belt as Amanda wiped the court with Manak Mathur securing our first match win. Next we went to Philly where we lost again 5-0 at the Germantown Club… Going into our last match at he New York Athletic Club we were looking for a win. Showing our teams depth, Sabrina, Liv (F), Julianne, and I won our matches and we ultimately beat them 4-2.
Early in July when the US found out that someone had pulled out of the individual draw and someone could enter to fill the gap – the team welcomed Julianne and she was able to join us for our last few squads and helped to secure our win at NYAC.
As you can see – we have put a lot of hard work in the past four months and we are so excited see it all pay off up in Boston! Thank you to all our personal coaches, all the players that helped get us ready and served as sparring partners, and to all the clubs that welcomed us and let us use their facilities to prepare. Hopefully we will see you all in Boston! Go Team USA!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Youngsters Maria Elena Ubina and Katie Tutrone fell short in the plate but, again, gained invaluable experience at the international level. Haley Mendez continued her successful run in search of 17th place defeating the #1 Dutch player Tessa ter Sluis. Olivia Blatchford, gunning for 5th place, fell short in a tight 4 game match versus Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy (EGY). She will play for 7th place tomorrow.
In the main draw semi finals Amanda Sobhy booked a place in the final with an EXTREMELY tight 3 game victory over world junior champion Nour El Sherbini 12-10, 14-12, and 11-9. It was a match that had the spectators (and coaches) mesmerized. Amanda will play Nour El Tayeb for the championship tomorrow at 8pm Cologne time.
US Junior Women's Coach
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Olivia wasn't as fortunate. She started slowly and by the time she got going it was too late, Nour El Taeb was too far in front and secured a three game victory.
In the back draw Maria Elena moved on with a withdrawal, Katie won her second straight 5-gamer and Haley lost to an on fire Anwesha Reddy (IND). All five Americans will be in action tomorrow.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The first round matches included mix results for Team USA. Olivia and I won our first round matches, the youngsters weren’t so lucky. Haley, Maria Elena, and Katie fell 3 love but put up a good. This was the first time for Katie and Maria Elena to be representing the US at a World Championship, and although they lost, they gained valuable learning experience to take with them in future matches. Tomorrow, with a fresh start, each member of the team will show their opponent what the US is really made of.
Round of 16
Today was the second round of matches for everyone and US performed very well. Haley was first up beating her opponent from Germany in four tight games. Katie also prevailed, pulling through to win in five over the #1 Austrian. Maria Elena put up a good fight against her French opponent, only to lose in a close four gamer.
The afternoon session was great for the US. Olivia performed beautifully and put to rest last summer’s tough round of 16 loss in the 2009 World Juniors. Olivia was poised and got the win over Melissa Alves of France was in three tight games.
I was next up taking on an up and coming Egyptian, Yathreb Adel. It was a tense affair but I stuck to my game plan and managed a close 4-game win. Two Americans in the quarterfinals is a great accomplishment for the team and represents how far the USA has come internationally.
Now, we can enjoy the rest of the night and cheer on USA in the World Cup. GO USA!!!!
Friday, June 25, 2010
After breakfast we made our way to the courts for a hit. We played a few games–Jack said the best way to get used to the courts is to play games. Once everyone felt prepared we packed it up and tried to get on the shuttle to the hotel. We had to wait a long time (very un-German-like) for the shuttle but finally got dropped off directly at our favorite new lunch spot - Vappiano. Katie and Maria Elena had a hard time getting the chef to cook what they really wanted but in the end no one went home hungry.
After lunch Olivia headed into the city to do some pre-tournament shopping with some of our new international friends: Tamika (Australia) and Catalina Palaez (Columbia) while the other girls worked on cleaning their hotel rooms and modeling our new Harrow uniforms.
Everyone reconvened in the center of Cologne to check out the cathedral and grab some dinner. On the way home we learned the art of ghosting people (following strangers copying exactly what they do) while buying the tickets at the tram station to go back to our hotel. As Haley was ghosting Jack to the tracks they got separated from the rest of the group and then we all missed the train - but luckily there was another one 5 minutes later.
Once back at the hotel we made a plan for breakfast and shuttle bus times to make sure we are all on time for the opening ceremonies in the morning. Then everyone was off to bed to get some sleep before the first day of action.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Amanda who had flown in from Egypt at 4 in the morning looking surprisingly refreshed went for a hit as the others relaxed at the hotel. Although we parted ways for lunch, US representation would not be lost, to Olivia's absolute joy, the US soccer team scored with 2 min to go in over time putting them at the top of the pool! YESSSSS! Later we reconnected and this time the US team would experience what can only be described fierce German national pride, while we sat down for dinner surrounded in a sea of crazy Deutschland supporters! With Maria Elena snapping pictures and Khaled generously buying our dinner we were able to experience the true energy that is football! And now we look forward (especially Amanda) to a cozy nights sleep so that we start the day with pizazz, ready to dominate!