Squash King of Queens

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By Chris McClintick
Photographed by Samuel Vélez

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.23.59 AMA downtown B train flashed by as it pulls into the 81st street station on the upper west side of New York City. The trek from the Wharton Performance headquarters, one block north of the Natural History Museum, south of Central Park then east to Chris Gordon’s apartment in Elmhurst, Queens, is a regular part of the twenty-eight-year-old’s training schedule when not traveling the world on the Professional Squash Association tour.

Gordon’s New York City roots run just as deep as the country’s most expansive transit system. Gordon has lived in the nation’s largest city for the majority of his life. At fourteen, a home-schooled Gordon and his parents moved to England from their home on the upper east side—a four-year period abroad that fostered Gordon’s professional ambition. After his first spell on tour while based in New York from eighteen to twenty-one years old, he relocated to Hartford, Connecticut, where he spent the next four years training with Trinity College when not on tour. At twenty-five, the Big Apple beckoned once more, this time in Long Island City. At the beginning of 2012, he settled into his current residence located in Elmhurst—one of the world’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods.

Gordon’s move to Queens coincided with the most successful spell of his career thus far. In 2013, Gordon won his first U.S. national title and reached his highest world ranking of forty-four six weeks later in May, which marked his first time amongst the world’s top fifty. With ten years of professional experience already under his belt, Gordon eyes further success in the coming years: improving his world ranking, notching a few more U.S. national and professional titles, and representing the U.S. internationally.

Gordon’s future professional prosperity is inextricably linked with his current day-to-day routine in New York City.

Squash Magazine tagged along with “Flash” Gordon for a glimpse of his life in his city.

Gordon’s pace and intensity on court earned him the nickname “Flash” Gordon, dubbed by Joey Barrington when Gordon lived and trained in England as a teenager.

Gordon’s pace and intensity on court earned him the nickname “Flash” Gordon, dubbed by Joey Barrington when Gordon lived and trained in England as a teenager.

Gordon also began working with his coach David Pearson in England. Despite being separated by the Atlantic, Gordon consults Pearson on a regular basis and trains with him when tour travel permits.

Gordon also began working with his coach David Pearson in England. Despite being separated by the Atlantic, Gordon consults Pearson on a regular basis and trains with him when tour travel permits.

At eight years old, Gordon picked up squash on the dungeonesque hardball singles courts of the Harvard Club of New York in Midtown under the tutelage of Richard Chin. Shortly after his return to New York from spending four years in Hartford, the CityView Racquet Club courts in Long Island City became his squash home and sponsor. The conveniently-located club is just a few stops on the 7 train from Elmhurst and almost just as important—three blocks away from a hockey rink. Training days typically begin with some form of squash at CityView whether solo, or practice matches, followed by strength and endurance training later in the day.

If squash were to make it into the 2020 Olympic Games, Gordon dreams of sustaining his career to represent the U.S.

If squash were to make it into the 2020 Olympic Games, Gordon dreams of sustaining his career to represent the U.S.

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The Wharton team encouraged Gordon to record his daily training routines in a work out log book, which he still maintains today.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.28.59 AMLocated in what could easily be mistaken as a storage closet just inside the entrance of an apartment building on the north side of 81st street between Columbus and Central Park West, Wharton performance New York facility has been Gordon’s performance training headquarters since he was eighteen. Complementing Pearson’s guidance, the musculoskeletal health and fitness experts are an essential element to Gordon’s physical development. Having already honed his physique for ten years professionally, Gordon describes his training as being of better quality and more specialized now, as opposed to obsessing over personal bests, and certain numbers and distances early in his
career.

Not only are Gordon’s home courts and hockey rink located in Queens, so too are his clothing sponsor—Solfire.

Not only are Gordon’s home courts and hockey rink located in Queens, so too are his clothing sponsor—Solfire.

Living in a city with multiple professional sports teams in basketball, baseball, hockey, football, and in 2015, soccer, is a constant reminder of the professional disparity between squash players and other sports.

Living in a city with multiple professional sports teams in basketball, baseball, hockey, football, and in 2015, soccer, is a constant reminder of the professional disparity between squash players and other sports.

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A thirty-minute urban run from Gordon’s apartment in Elmhurst dips into the Corona and Jackson Heights neighborhoods including Mexican, Ecuadorian, Colombian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Nepalese, Indian, and Pakistani communities before returning to Gordon’s mainly Chinese neighborhood. Having spent his career traveling the world and experiencing different cultures and ways of life, Gordon has found that New York City is one of the few places in the world where one is always on the brink of discovering something new and different.

A Hamstring tear led to Gordon rekindling his love for hockey—a sport he played before squash in his youth. Temporarily disabled, Gordon watched Hartford’s local minor league hockey team, The Wolf Pack—part of the New York Rangers’ farm system. Upon recovering, Gordon rediscovered the sport on Trinity’s rink, which then led to accumulating an assembly of old Wolf Pack gear. Now playing recreationally on rinks in Queens, Gordon still sports the Wolf Pack, and now dons the skates of The Islanders’ Kyle Okposo. Gordon prides himself on playing tidy defense in pick up games that are prone to goal-greedy amateurs. In some ways, Gordon’s game on the rink is similar to that on the court: pacey, well-calculated, and industrious.

Depending on pick up schedules, Gordon sometimes travels to the Flushing Meadows Natatorium, which shares a subway station with the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The complex was once part of the 2012 New York City Olympic Bid.

Depending on pick up schedules, Gordon sometimes travels to the Flushing Meadows Natatorium, which shares a subway station with the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The complex was once part of the 2012 New York City Olympic Bid.

During this shoot, Gordon swatted a goal-bound puck in the crease and, as he predicted, was often the last line of defense.

During this shoot, Gordon swatted a goal-bound puck in the crease and, as he predicted, was often the last line of defense.

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