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  • Nicole Bunyan

Training before Black Ball Open {Week Recap}

Updated: May 5

Hello from Cairo!


I'm happy to report that my trip to Egypt has gone without a hitch so far- no issues with the Covid tests, luggage, or anything else. It's off to a good start!


Olivia and I flew together from JFK and arrived on Monday afternoon. Danielle and Karim's father picked us both up from the airport, and took us directly to Black Ball for a practice hit. I have to say, hitting on the glass court with no sleep after a 12 hour flight was very humbling, but it was good to shake the legs out and sweat.


(This is Danielle & Nadine on the glass court).


After our hit, Nadine and I ran a couple of errands before heading back to her place for the night. Nadine was kind enough to let me stay and train with her for a couple days prior to the tournament- thank you again, Nadine!

I had to arrive early for the tournament, not only because of the time difference (7 hours ahead), but also because of current Covid restrictions in the US. Because of the travel ban in the US for non-citizens (I'm on a visa), I can't fly through certain countries (UK, Europe, Iran, China). This includes layovers, so it means I have to fly direct. There are only a handful of direct flights between the US and Cairo, the only one which would get me in with enough time left on Sunday night. So, I used my extra couple of days to acclimate and get some training in the squash hotspot of the world- Cairo!


Tuesday- Training and PCR test

After a solid 9 hour sleep (for me!), Nadine and I went to a club called Familyland, which is a squash club located within a movie theatre complex. You'd never know it was there!


(Danielle and Olivia having a practice match).


While Nadine hit with her coach, Danielle, Olivia, and I grabbed a quick coffee nearby. I then did a little solo, followed by a few games with Nadine.

Again, it wasn't the sharpest of hits, but 100x better than just sitting around hoping to beat the jetlag.


I have a few tips for getting over jet lag- one of them being mindset. I remember I was at Canadian Junior Open 2007(?) in Ontario, and I kept speaking to my coach, Stuart Dixon, in "west coast" time. I remember saying, "oh, but that's 5 am at home". Stuart, a well-traveled and experienced coach immediately responded: "stop thinking in the old time zone. It doesn't matter anymore. You need to pretend you are in this time zone now, otherwise you'll keep thinking that you're tired". Those aren't his exact words, but it was something to that effect.

Stuart's advice regarding jet lag has stuck with me through the years, such that I no longer even think to myself "it's 2 am at home", because then I'll subconsciously end up convincing myself that I "should" be tired.

Anyway, that was a bit of an unexpected tangent. Unfortunately, Stuart passed away about a year and a half ago, and this is one of those times I find myself wishing he was still around so I could share this with him. He was always so supportive of my endeavors, and was especially helpful when I have doubted myself and my path throughout the years. Thinking of you, Stuart!


OK- back to present time. After our hit, Nadine and I went to her gym for a fitness session!

Fun fact- this is the gym where Raneem El Welily trained for over a decade!


They've even mapped out a squash court on the mat! I love seeing how people train in other countries, and was especially keen to see how the Egyptians train on and off court, since they're such a squash powerhouse.


We warmed up for about 15 minutes on the bike, then headed to the mat for some footwork. It was an intense session, but didn't last too, too long. It went something like this:


Ghosting (60s)- effort ~9/10

Sprints (10)

Fast feet (20s?)

High knees (20s?)

Walkout to pushup (6)

Rest for a couple minutes


There wasn't any rest in between the exercises, so let's just say you definitely earned your rest at the end of the set! I think we went through that circuit for about half an hour (I honestly have no idea 😂), and then had about 15 minutes of core work (which was brutal). My abs are still sore today- it even hurts to laugh!


Overall it was a great session, and I loved doing the footwork on the mat as opposed to a court. My joints felt so much happier afterwards!


After fitness, Nadine and I had to go take our PCR tests. Although I had a negative Covid test before flying, I needed another one which was more current in order to enter the tournament. Once at the hotel, I also had to have another test to officially "enter" the tournament bubble.


Wednesday

Wednesday was pretty similar to Tuesday, except we had Emilia with us!


We went to Familyland in the morning (Emilia and I just did some easy drills), then to fitness, and then to Black Ball for practice matches. Nadine played with Salma, and I had a hit with Menna.


After our practices, we checked into the hotel, and called it a day!


Thursday

Today is pretty relaxed- the complete opposite of the past couple days, which is fine by me! I could use some time to get some programming and work done, and let my body rest.


After breakfast, I had my PCR test, and am now isolating in my room until we receive the results. Also, "isolation" is really not a hardship here... check out my setup!


I was writing this post from the balcony, until my computer began to overheat.


Okay, that's all for this post! I'm going to work for a few hours, and then hopefully I'll have my covid results later this afternoon, so I'll likely get a practice hit in this evening. My match isn't until 8 pm tomorrow, so it'll be good to have a late practice today, even if just to figure out my food timing.


If you want to keep up with the happenings of the tournament, definitely check out Instagram! I'll be posting updates on my page, Squashletic, and for general tournament info you can look at PSA World Tour's instagram, or their website for live scores. The glass court will be streamed, but I'm not sure about the side court (where I'm playing). If it is being streamed, it'll likely be on the PSA Youtube channel!


If you enjoyed reading this sort of post, drop me a comment below, or send me a message on Instagram and let me know!


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