Southernmost Court

 On New Year’s Eve my father, my son and I got the chance to play on the southernmost squash court in the world. We were in Ushuaia, a town in Argentina, just a few yards over the border from Chile, on the Beagle Channel on the tip of Tierra del Fuego. It is at 54.8 degrees south.

There is one squash court in town. It is at Las Hayas, a hotel a dozen minutes outside of town. Las Hayas sits perched on the side of the Martial glacier. The squash court is a part of their luxurious, candle-lit spa in the back of the hotel—two hot tubs with a Bhudda frog meditating in between; a swimming pool; and a gym. The loudest noises came from clients padding along in their slippers and robes as they headed for their massages.

The court, without a gallery, was fine: a dark wooden floor, a handle-less door with a small viewing window and quite playable. Except the low, lob-resistant ceiling. It is just a foot or so above the red line.

I showed the receptionist the then-current issue of Squash Magazine. Inside was a feature article about the ambassador tours that Andrew Shelley has run for two decades.

The table of contents page featured a photo of Nicol David, Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Rachael Grinham at the court at Las Hayas in 2007. They are pictured standing at the back corner with their arms lifted, their racquets touching the ceiling. More than eleven years later we stood in the same spot in the same pose.

In 2006 David and Fitz-Gerald had been squash ambassadors in Norway and played on the world’s northernmost court. It is at a leisure center in Longyearbyen on the island of Svalbard, at 78.2 degrees north. After visiting Ushuaia and playing at Las Hayas, they had pulled off the very rarest of squash feats, possibly achieved for the first time: playing on both the northern and southernmost courts in the world.