The British Virgin Islands

 

So the second leg of my trip saw me head to the British Virgin Islands for a 5k PSA event. I had seen this event come up early on and decided it would be a great trip to get me started and a really interesting place to visit post exams. 

 

 Initially I was low down in qualifying, but due to it being a difficult a place to get to there was a lot of withdrawals and I found myself with a great first round draw to face a qualifier in the first round. All being well it could set me up for some very good points to go on my ranking as I started to focus on my squash and turning more towards my training.

 

 The ferry was an experience, having somehow figured out in my sleep deprived state what ferry I needed to get they then chucked all the bags on, and boarded us all up. They then after a short wait declared half the boat needed to go re check in! It was amateur hour at its best! However the views of the islands on the journey where spectacular, it's a very unspoilt area of the world with so much green and white beaches, with what appears to be largely un-inhabited parts. The islands appear to jut out of the sea in a very steep manor, looking like triangles sticking out of the sea.e American Virgin Islands I then had to get a ferry to the British Virgin Islands as there are very few flights direct to BVI. Not the easiest journey in the world.


On arrival to the BVI I got picked up by Mark Chapman, the tournament organiser and he dropped me at the club to hit before heading to his place where I was staying.
Their place was very close to the club; literally a 5min walk up the hill, which was ideal for the squash. I was staying with Mark and his family, along with Ben Coates in a nice little annex they had at their house. Their son Joe was also playing and was the BVI no.1.



The first hit was very interesting. The club is a tennis and squash club and the facilitiesseemed really basic, in comparison to the luxury I had experienced in the states previously, but non the less very nice. The courts sit outside with a tin roof, which leaks a lot when the short bursts of heavy rain hits. The main thing that stood out was the heat. I had adapted well in San Fran, and thought it would be an easy transition across to here. How I was wrong, the heat was about 10 degrees C hotter at a constant 30 degrees with outrageous humidity. The only thing to reduce this on court was a couple of fans at the back of the 

 


The day after I arrived there were three main tasks to be achieved, adjusting to the heat inpractice, catching up on sleep and court. After the knock up for a practice hit I felt drenched and needing a shirt change. Strong chance of passing the first round and bagging some good points. watching the qualifiers. I got a couple of good hits in but still was well off adjusting. I felt happy watching the qualifying, within the draw there was only one PSA player the rest were locals and I was lucky enough to get a local first round, which gave me a 


 Match day came quickly. If I am honest I was still really worried about the heat, I wasn't quite sure how to adjust to it and was quite scared it could cause hydration problems or just suddenly sap my energy without me realising. My first match I didn't take any chances and tried to get on and off as quickly as possible, winning comfortably. Despite the easy game I was very cautious to recover properly and refuel well ahead of the match. Fortunately there was plenty of good food to be had at the club, and I became used to the coconut water to help get the important salts back in the body. 

 



 Later that day I was through to the quarter to play Shahjahan Khan, a Pakistani who lives on the US training out of Seattle who played with Tecnifibre. Interestingly he had played Harrow’s Charlie Johnston who I stayed with in SF in the tournament prior, he gave me a few good tips to take with me. The first and second game proved quite tough for me as I failed to settle in the conditions and tried to force the play to often. Due to the heat the ball would just sit up if it was slightly off and it rewarded a more counter attacking and patient style, it also caused me to rattle through the shirt changes and I nearly even a shoe change. In the third I adjusted to this and after a few attempts took a close game. This gave me hope in the fourth that I was now adjusting to the demands of the climate. As the fourth went on it was close up to about 6-6. Then more than anything I got mentally tired rather than physically and dropped some cheap points that gave away that game. I wasn't too disappointed with how I played it was better than I thought I could have done at first and bagged some good points. I was more frustrated that I didn't feel I was to far off the pace there and with more experience that could have been a result in my favour and a really strong result to give me a spring board from. None the less I will learn a lot of this experience and come back much stronger.

 Now the tournament was over it gave chance to visit the island and more importantly a beach! Joe who I was staying with dropped myself, Ben Coates and Phil Bull off at the beach to chill for the morning. He took us on a little tour of the island. He showed us what he described as a commercial beach, consisting of one small beach bar, about 4 people on it and a few houses dotted on the hills. Think they need to go to a European beach resort to re-assess their idea of ‘commercial’! The beach we stayed at was very isolated. He dropped us at a track to walk down to the beach, which had a couple houses overlooking and that was it! We spent the morning messing around throwing a ball around in the sea and chilling out. We spent the afternoon at the club, had a few drinks and generally chilled. No squash balls hit!


 Final day. The final day saw me get back into some training. I did a couple of solos and a hard continuous rally session with Laurence Green. After some of the players and I did a clinic with the children of the families that had helped out with tournament. It’s always great to see these kind of things going on at the tournaments you go to, I believe its very important for the players to give back like they do on the MANTIS Fantasy Squash Academy week camp we have in our August festival.


 We finished off watching the final, which Head’s Peter Creed of Wales won. After of which we mingled at the club for a bit and got some food. I then wandered back and packed my squash bag for the travel back.


 The travel back proved eventful. I went to board the 9.00 ferry to the American Vigin Islands, for the flight back. After I while waiting it soon loomed that the 9.00 was cancelled, but a replacement was on its way for 10.30. This was goner make getting my flight very tight! Eventually the 10.30 came and this had a engine problem and didn’t run either. In the end I was boarding the ferry at 11.30 with 30 minuets till my flight was due to leave. It’s fair to say that was a flight missed. After a strange change of ferry mid route due to the problems with broken ferries, I eventually arrived at the airport rather late. Luckily enough I managed to get a new flight for a small fee that got me back home via Atlanta, lunchtime the next day.


 Overall it was a great trip this one, some good PSA points to start my attack to get my ranking up, some really interesting places to visit and travel to, and probably the hottest climate I have played in. Next up is a tour of South Africa before coming back for all the Summer Camps to commence!