Ex-England captain runs thriving junior program in the Big Apple
When the time comes to hang up the racket from the professional tour it can be exciting and also daunting going into the next chapter of your life.
Going from the familiarity of training and playing tournaments to something new can be a challenge. I remember clearly when I retired which was just before Christmas.
Some go down the route of a complete career change, where others stay involved in the game with mostly coaching positions. Many of these positions are in the USA and with thriving squash programs in the Universities and clubs it is an attractive proposition.
One of those thriving squash programs is at the Brooklyn Heights Casino in New York. It is a popular place with the WSA players as for many years it has hosted the Carol Weymuller Open and, once you have played this tournament, you always want to go back. The current director of squash is former top English player Linda Elriani.
Linda was one of my closest friends on the tour. My many years competing and travelling the world were made a lot more enjoyable by her friendship. Many fantastic experiences and memories shared and I even have to thank her for meeting my husband, but that’s another story!
She had a successful career on the WSA Tour, achieving a career-high world ranking of three. She was British National Champion in 2005 and with 70 plus caps for England was captain when England won the World Team Championships in 2000.
After moving to the USA in 2006 and spending a year in Greenwich, she and her husband Laurent have been at the Heights Casino since 2007. Hearing Linda explain what her job entails she really does run a fantastic program.
She said: “As director of squash my job is to run the squash program from week to week, run/organise tournaments and organise our 6 full time pros coaching schedules. I also attend committee, board and budget meetings and do all the admin for this.
“As well as the adults we have approximately 160 kids on the program. With 6 courts our challenge is to give everyone exactly what they would like.
“Our program consists of group classes and also private lessons so that the kids get a good combination of technical and tactical practice so hopefully we are meeting that challenge.”
Wow, what a booming, thriving club and as well as running the program her and Laurent have their young son Jack to keep them busy and it sounds like they love life in the Big Apple.
“We love living in Brooklyn Heights as it’s a lovely, small, friendly, safe neighbourhood in a big city. We can basically stay within about 6 blocks and have almost everything we need.”
I am sure Linda’s enthusiasm and personality plays a big part in the program and it is lovely to hear that the next chapter in her life is such a successful and happy one. May it long continue.
Pictures from the Squash Mad archive