SPA-tlight: Nigel Thain

DropShots_SPANigel Thain, Squash Pro at Philadelphia Country Club, Philadelphia, PA

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ottawa, Canada, and moved to the United States in 1995 to be the Assistant Squash Professional at the Chatham Club in New Jersey.

When and why did you start playing squash?
I started playing squash a bit when I was ten. My dad would drag me along to his weekly squash games, and there were always a bunch of kids just hitting or playing on an empty court. I started playing squash on a regular basis when I was around twelve-years-old.

Do you still compete?
I still love to compete whenever possible. I play in a lot more doubles tournaments these days. I try to play the national singles age group events each year in either the U.S. or Canada. I started coaching squash because I love the game and the competition.

Dating back to the 1890s, Philadelphia Country Club is among the oldest in America and is located in one of the country’s most active squash areas. What makes your club and its squash community unique?
Philadelphia country club has a great community. I will begin my seventeenth year at the club in January—my longevity here is an indication of the type of members and wonderful staff I get to work with. The members make my job enjoyable, they love to have fun, and we provide that environment for them. They are a competitive, welcoming, and enthusiastic group of squash players.

Junior squash is one of the fastest growing areas of US Squash, can you say a little bit about the junior squash program at Philadelphia Country Club?
The junior squash program at PCC has continued to grow over the years. It’s exciting to develop young players and teach them a game they will be able to play the rest of their lives. Having worked at the club for so long, the most rewarding aspect of junior squash is seeing the players I first introduced to squash continue on as adult players, coaches, competitors, and young doubles partners for older pros! Being a squash pro gives me the chance to play more of the sport I love.

Philadelphia Country Club has several doubles league teams, how would you characterize the doubles community at your club?
Squash doubles at the club is extremely active and competitive. The club added its second doubles court in 2007, and since then the adult programs have flourished. Having a well-balanced club with so many different programs for everyone is the most satisfying part of my job. We host many of our own doubles events throughout the season, creating a competitive and fun environment. There is nothing more fun than seeing all the courts filled, with people waiting to get on to the next open court!

Philadelphia Country Club hosted the 2013 U.S. Open Doubles Championships in early December. What kind of work goes into hosting a professional event like this? Can you talk about the experience for you and your club?
The U.S. Open Doubles Championship was a lot of work but a very rewarding experience! There is a lot to do leading up to one of these events. I had a lot of help with this event. The committee was excellent with their fundraising efforts and input. Preston Quick helped tremendously with scheduling, draws and preparing our patron packages. Narelle Krizek had all the women organized for the WDSA’s involvement as well as aiding with fundraising. Over the four days of the event, Graham Bassett took care of the SDA portion, refereeing and overseeing the men and posting results. My assistant, Gavin Perrett, my staff and the club were all instrumental in making this event a success.