U.S. Open Celebrates Fifth Annual Women in Sports Day

(l-r) Panelists Katline Couwels, Olivia Blatchford Clyne, Nyree Dardarian, Betsy Pulick and Caroline Glain

The fifth-annual Women in Sport Day took place Wednesday during the 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open at Drexel. The program featured a panel discussion, a clinic run by U.S. Open professionals for SquashSmarts students, and a reception and on-court ceremonies honoring leaders empowering girls and women in sport. A portion of the proceeds from Women in Sports Day benefit the US Squash’s Women’s Fund, helping build women’s squash programming in emerging and new markets across the country.

The day began with a mid-afternoon panel discussion at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Like last year, it was moderated by Katline Couwels. A former world no. 42, Couwels is co-director of the new innovative six-court club, MSquash Accelerator, along with her husband Shaun Moxham.

Joining her were Betsy Pulick, a treating physician at Ridgefield Sports Medicine in Connecticut; Caroline Glain, a fasciatherapist and sports mental coach from Brittany, France; Nyree Dardarian, an assistant clinical professor at Drexel and the director of Drexel’s Center for Integrated Nutrition & Performance; and Olivia Blatchford, the Team USA star and world No. 16.

Last year’s panel discussed the mental side of squash; this year it was about how to build and maintain a strong physical body. The discussion ranged from what to eat during a match—Dardarian introduced a new product, the Dragon Gel, a sports snack—to resistance training and the protection joints to the prevalence of low vitamin D levels in squash players.

“You want to be strong, balanced and flexible,” Glain said. “You need to work on your weaknesses. Don’t work on your dominant muscles, work on the weaker ones so you can be balanced.” Both Pulick and Dardarian spoke about the need for players to be wet sponges not dry sponges—to warm up properly so that the body was elastic and flexible.

The discussion ended with a question-and-answer session. Watch a replay of the panel discussion on the U.S. Open Facebook page.

On the Kline & Specter Squash Courts at Drexel, in addition to the panel, Women in Sports Day also included squash practice session with girls from SquashSmarts. A cohort of PSA players—2017 U.S. Open Champion Nour El Tayeb, Alison Waters, and Nele Gilis—led the clinic, giving the students a first-hand look at life on the professional tour.

SquashSmarts, now in its eighteenth season, is the central community partner of the recently announced $40 million Arlen Specter US Squash Center. Founded in 2001, SquashSmarts is a free, intensive out-of-school academic and athletic mentoring non-profit changing the lives of Philadelphia’s public school students. It operates daily out of two facilities—the Lenfest Center in North Philadelphia and Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center.

The Women in Sports Day Reception was held beginning at 5:00pm in a dramatic setting adjacent to the ASB Glasscourt. At the beginning of the speaking program, Kevin Klipstein, the president and CEO of US Squash, welcomed the many guests to the reception and introduced Mia Fioravanti, the manager of corporate communications at FS Investments and executive director of the FS Foundation. Fioravanti spoke about FS Investments synergy with US Squash, as both seek to develop access, community and excellence.

At the reception, Julieanne Harris of the Philadelphia Cricket Club was presented with the US Squash Achievement Bowl–the organization’s oldest award–and Alexandra (AK) Frazier was presented with the Women in Sports Day Special Recognition Award.

Quarterfinal play commenced following the reception with two women’s and two men’s matches, with world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini and 2016 U.S. Open Champion Camille Serme advancing to the women’s semifinal, and world No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and first-time semifinalist Paul Coll doing so on the men’s side.