Emily Miller wiped a bit of sweat
from her forehead with a magenta wrist band that appropriately matched
her skirt and white tank top with magenta trim and stepped out of court
3 at the Copacabana Squash Club. Julia Brown followed. The two plopped
themselves on a mint green and pale blue striped couch flanked by
floor-to-ceiling lush tropical plants in the spacious lounge area. They
tossed their racquets aside and immediately checked their cell phones.
“My dad keeps texting me about my
match, but I keep telling him I still don’t know when I’m playing.
What’s with this freakin’ tournament anyway?” complained Emily, fixing
her blonde pony tail.
“I know. My mum’s been calling as
well,” said Julia with a sigh, taking a swig of her now tepid sports
drink. “They’re so bloody slow.”
Emily, a college recruit hopeful from
the New York area, became friends with Julia, a petite
sandy-haired player from Cambridge, on the European junior circuit and
at summer camps. Emily’s dad, Maxwell Miller, II, a lawyer and avid
player, hoped that squash would be Emily’s ticket to an Ivy League
school and thought this tournament would help raise her squash profile
plus provide some needed motivation. While Emily liked the game
and has had plenty of training and tournament play, her focus wasn’t
always there. A little less texting and tweeting and more rails and
cross courts would certainly help.
Julia’s parents were also optimistic
about their daughter’s squash future, especially now with the Olympics
a reality. Julia’s uncle had played for Wales so it seemed only natural
for her to carry on the squash pedigree. Like Emily, Julia’s head was
sometimes elsewhere, and quite often, celebrities and pop stars
commanded her attention. Not that long ago, she and her friends camped
out for two nights waiting to see a pop star perform in rain-soaked
Hyde Park. She missed her squash lesson and was too wiped out to play
in a tournament that weekend, which didn’t bode well at home.
When Emily learned that Julia had
entered the qualifier in Rio, that sealed the deal. Both sets of
parents felt somewhat relieved that the girls would be together and
hopefully stay out of trouble at least until Maxwell Miller arrived
after finishing an important case. The girls kept their fingers crossed
that they wouldn’t be on the same side of the draw. And more
importantly, they prayed that neither of them would have to face
“I wonder what’s up with
Florencia. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t show,” remarked Julia, standing
up briefly to stretch and smooth down her lavender skirt.
“Trust me, she wouldn’t miss this if
her life depended on it.”
“Hmm, I guess she’ll just run through
everyone here and look amazing at the same time.”
“Yeah, with that backhand that’s so
frickin’ annoying. Why is that allowed?”
“I bet since Shelley Anderson is from
tennis, that’s why.”
“So what’s next from Shelley
Anderson? Are we gonna have freakin’ nets on the squash court?
She should have just stayed in tennis.”
Julia looked at her phone again.
“Here’s something. Tyler Wolf has been arrested on drug charges.”
“You’re kidding,” said Emily. “I
wonder what Shelley Anderson will do about that.”
“Hmm. I don’t know, but there’s
nothing about Florenica. Let’s check the board to see if there are any
They got up and walked over to look
at the notices. Flyers announcing everything from beach fitness
training to squash samba parties covered the wall. A posting about the
tournament caught Julia’s eye.
“OMG,” she squealed
breathlessly, with eyes wide open.
Look who’s on the players list who
wasn’t there before!” gasped Julia, practically jumping now. “Andres
Lopez from Colombia,” she cried in a whispered scream.
“No way!” said Emily. “He’s
like so hot. He played an exhibition at our club last year and he was
“Have you seen him in the Nutra Water
“No, he’s on TV? We haven’t seen that
in the U.S.”
“He’s a real star now. You can find
it on YouTube. He’s at the beach, it’s really hot.” Julia had to stop
to catch her breath. She continued: “He takes off his sweaty shirt
after a jog, drinks this water and all these girls come running after
him. He’s just innnnncredible.”
Emily pulled out her iPad and
immediately logged on to YouTube. “Got it.” The two stared at the
screen, fixating on the sizzling six pack, chiseled shoulders, long
wavy brown hair and vividly inviting dark eyes of Andres Lopez. “Don’t
you just love his tattoos?” whispered Julia.
“I thought he was banned from World
Squash Tour because of temper tantrums in Toronto.”
“I bet Shelley Anderson let him in.”
“I’m sure she did.”
“Hmm, I just got a brilliant idea.
Why don’t we have a look for him? He’s got to be around somewhere
and there’s nothing going on here.”
“Cool! Let’s bounce.”
The courts, which were overrun with
players, were steamy now and infused with the faint yet familiar scent
of muscle rub. Carlos was tired. As a longtime club manager, he
had never encountered so much chaos with a tournament. The phone didn’t
stop ringing. Players who had been sitting around had now
resorted to pacing and several peppered him with questions. “You’ll
have to speak with John Allenby,” he said, somewhat exasperated. “I
have a call into him now. He should be here any moment.”
“There’s a woman on the phone,” said
Alberto, Paulo’s assistant. “A Miss Jackson, she’s asking about Tyler
Paulo took the phone. “Hello Miss
Jackson,” he said, trying to maintain a calm voice.
“Mr. Paulo.” The voice was intense
with an Australian accent. “I’m trying to locate Tyler Wolf?”
“Tyler hasn’t come to the club yet. I
believe there was some problem with lost luggage.”
“Lost luggage! Mr. Paulo, are you not
aware that it’s all over the Internet that Ty has been arrested on drug
charges. What’s going on? You must have some reasonable
explanation of what this is all about.”
“What? Miss Jackson, I can’t
“Mr. Paulo, I left my number with
your assistant, and I expect to hear from you with any news.” Click
Carlos tried to reach Allenby’s cell
phone to inform him about this mysterious and disturbing phone call,
but before he could, the TV crew from NBR arrived.
“Shit,” said Carlos, under his
breath. Perez and Wolf, both scheduled for interviews, were
nowhere to be found.
Carlos greeted the reporter and
cameraman who started to shoot some footage of players practicing.
“Player Tyler Wolf isn’t here right
“I know,” said the reporter, Bruno
Diaz. “We will interview another player, but quickly. We have to leave
in a minute to cover a surfing event at Barra da Tijuca, and that
British boy band is rehearsing later at the Plataforma, so we have to
get there before the crush. Busy day, typical,” he said,
grinning, flashing his sparkling white teeth.
“We film glass box?” the cameraman
said to Carlos in broken English. Bruno explained that they went
down to the glass court but it was still being assembled.
“When will it be finished?” he asked.
“Never mind,” he said before Carlos could figure out an answer. “We’re
on a tight schedule, so we got what we need here. It will have to do.”
Amid the clamor, more commotion
exploded from the club entrance. Clapping and cheering, a swarm of
people gathered to meet and greet a player dressed all in black with a
black headband. He gave high fives and shout outs to fans and
friends. Like a rock star suddenly appearing on stage or a
political favorite taking the podium, Andres Lopez had arrived.
Andres Lopez, thought Paulo. Is he
even in this tournament? Wasn’t he banned for conduct?
“Oh, here’s a player for us,” said
Bruno, sizing up that this guy had to be important. Relieved that
he could finish up this squash story and move on, he made his way over
to Andres who acted as if he knew the crew was expecting him.
“But...er,” Carlos tried to follow
and stall them, but the cameraman already affixed a mic on Andres.
The camera rolled. “I’m here at the
Copacabana Squash Club where players from all over the globe are
getting in gear for one of the world’s major tournaments right here on
the beach on a soon-to-be completed all-glass court,” announced Bruno.
“Here with me is player Andres Lopez from Colombia. How’s it going
“It’s going great, Bruno. I’m so
excited to be here in Rio,” responded the made-for-TV Andres, as if he
had rehearsed his answer to perfection.
“And now that top player Tyler Wolf
has been reportedly arrested on drug charges, how does that impact you
in this tournament?”
“The draw is wide open. It’s anyone’s
game now,” responded Andres, beaming, with a bottle of Nutra Water in
“Thank you. Mr. Lopez. Bruno
Diaz here reporting from the Copacabana Squash Club.
“This will air on tonight’s news,”
Bruno called out to Carlos, rushing off with his cameraman as quickly
as they raced in.
This can’t get any worse, thought
Carlos who immediately called Allenby’s cell phone. Allenby answered:
“Carlos, let me get right back to you, I’ve been down at the docks and
I need to check at the concierge again about Perez.”
If Carlos was at his wit’s end,
Allenby was just about over the edge. Wolf and Perez were still
missing, and play was supposed to start today. He’d been hours at the
docks and still hadn’t gotten to the bottom of the two missing panels
of the glass court. Worries about doping, kidnapping and drugs, let
alone the more minor tournament woes were all too much. And that phone
call between Shelley and Victor was more than upsetting. But, he had to
get back to the club. The players were there waiting. First, though,
Passing the free form swimming pool
nestled in the sun, filled with turquoise water, and two open-air
Jacuzzis under the broad shade trees, he couldn’t help but notice
guests relaxing on rattan lounge chairs with soft white cushions
looking as if they didn’t have a care in the world. That’s the life, he
thought. He raced through the lobby with its glistening white-tiled
floors and elegantly appointed furniture in complementary pastel hues
and headed to the marble front desk adorned with large pots of
“Just checking again about the
airport pick up for Florencia Perez,” Allenby pleaded desperately.
“Oh, yes, Mr. Allenby. It seems that
TAM Flight 163 has been diverted.”
“What? Where to?”
About the Author
the director of media relations for the Pro Squash Tour. Born and
raised in New York City, she acquired the passion for squash through
the legacy of her late father, Joe Lordi, a national squash tennis
champion and two-term president of the New York Athletic Club where the
squash courts are dedicated to his memory. A longtime public
relations professional, she has also contributed to a variety of
publications, such as Hearst’s HealthyLife, the Rye Record and
others. Georgetta is the founder of the squash program at the Rye
school district in New York’s Westchester County and was instrumental
in creating the Fairwest league for public schools. She is the mother
of three athletes, including a son who plays on the squash team at
Franklin & Marshall College.