A fabulous fiftieth United States Open just wrapped up. Here are some sudden thoughts and second thoughts:
—Brink of eliminations. Holy tension. In the quarters Nour El Sherbini was down 6-2 in the fourth, just five points away from a loss, before going on to win and eventually snag the only major trophy missing from her cabinet. Also in the quarters, Amanda Sobhy was down 6-1 in the fourth, also just five points away from a loss, before going to win. And Ali Farah saved a match point in the third game against Tarek Momen before taking the match in five.
—Best match? Probably Coll v. Farag in the men’s final: going into overtime in the fifth game of a Grand Slam? That is exciting.
—Team USA did well. Two American women (Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Fietcher) reached the semis for the first time ever and an American man (Timmy Brownell) made in the quarters for the first time since Houston in 1986 when both Ned Edwards and Mark Talbott reached the quarters. Brownell’s run propelled him to world No.40 in the rankings and for the first time heading the list of American men on the pro tour.
—Good crowds. It was the twelfth time at Drexel, third at the Specter Center. A lot of people there for early round day matches and a vibrant atmosphere every night. Nearly four hundred people came for the annual celebration of SquashSmarts; hometown, tee-shirt wearing support for Fietcher; and a boisterous group came to honor Berwyn which is officially marking its fiftieth anniversary this weekend—as the first and now lone mega-club left in the country, it is a remarkable milestone.
—The Open is a crossroads and one person courtside for the first time in a long time was Paul Price. It had been a decade since we had last seen Price. The former world No.4 in singles and dominant hardball doubles player had departed from Toronto to return to his native Australia. He’s now working with a number of players on the mental side of the game.
—Oh, and the thing that came at the beginning or end of almost every single conversation at the U.S. Open? Squash getting into the Olympics. More on that next time.