Sue Strachan works as a kidney doctor at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and normally uses a high-octane game of squash to destress. But lockdown has put paid to after work matches and she had to adapt her way of working to focus on Covid-19.
Speaking of the stresses, fears and anxieties associated with working on the frontline, the 56-year-old said: “Nothing beats a hard game of squash, a shower then a drink. Everything feels well in the world. It’s such an incredible stress buster. Squash gives you that pocket of time that no other sport can really offer which is helpful when you have a busy lifestyle.
“Not having that outlet to get rid of my stress and anxiety, which squash has always given me, has been really hard.”
Sue explained that she has been busy during the pandemic and said: “I’ve been doing my bit in hospital, seeing all-comers being admitted and trying to make them better. And hopefully I’ve been a stabiliser for the young doctors as well. They’ve needed pastoral support during this time, we all have.
“It’s been scary and frightening and whilst it would be great to have had a squash court to run about, smack a ball and get that stress out, the current reality is that, survival is success for us all just now.”
She has found other avenues to channel some of that stress, however — she’s been back on a tennis court at Dumfries Sports Club recently, where she also normally plays hockey and cricket competitively. Sue’s also cycled 500 miles since lockdown and has been doing virtual squash training.
And once everything begins to ease, she will take on her role as Cricket Scotland’s first ever woman president. At Scottish Squash she’s part of the Equality Advisory Group and has been a key influencer in helping increase women’s participation through the governing body’s Girls Do Squash campaign, launched in 2018.
But it’s being on a squash court where she thrives competitively, having represented Scotland at Masters level for the best part of 15 years. Winning the Scottish Masters Over 55’s title last year was her proudest individual achievement, she says. Yet nothing comes close to captaining Scotland’s Over 50s women’s team to Home International glory in 2014. She said: “I was part of the Scottish Squash junior set-up as a youngster but when I became a doctor I had to give up squash until I was about 40.
“I tried curling, golf and running but nothing did what squash does. When I got back on court I could smell the plaster, sweat and wood. It felt like I was home.
“I’ve since won three national titles but victory as a Scotland team in 2014 is the win I cherish the most. I won my match 3-2 against an English player I’d never beaten before to secure the title in Dublin. It felt amazing.”
Sue has won two domestic titles this year and was on track to be part of the Scotland team this year before lockdown.
To quench her squash thirst, Sue even took matter into her own hands, and explained: “I’ve been able to work on some aspects of my game I wouldn’t normally have done and created a court outside my home with some duct tape. But I can’t wait to eventually get back on court.”