Canadian Champion Eyes New Career

2013-02-28

By Neil Trousdale

 

Miranda Ranieri, the three-time defending Canadian Champion, has announced she is retiring from competitive squash. Miranda joins Stephanie Edmison as the 2nd member of the Senior Canadian National Team to retire this winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  Miranda Ranieri (foreground) at the 2011 Canadian Squash Championships

Miranda Ranieri never planned to be a squash star.

When she picked up the racquet as a kid she was not picturing herself as the number one ranked US college player, or a three time Canadian champion, or a Pan-American Games gold medalist.

Miranda may have excelled in squash as a kid, but she was also active in many other disciplines growing up, and she was just as passionate about other sports like soccer all through high school.

Miranda never really imagined where the sport of squash could take her; but as it turned out, squash became the guiding force in her life, opening up doors and providing her opportunities that may never have existed otherwise. 

……………………………………………………

Miranda’s start in squash was family driven. Her parents and her older sister all played squash and Miranda would be no different; she started playing at age seven and the Ranieri family spent many a day competing against each other at the local club. As she grew up, and with the help of dad as her coach, Miranda began to excel. Miranda won the Canadian Under 12 title in 1997 and the Canadian Under 14 title in 1999. Miranda followed those successes by winning three Canadian Junior Opens. In 2004, squash would present one of its first big opportunities to Miranda - a chance to see the world. “I got a chance to go to Egypt for an event. As an 18 year old that was amazing, and it still ranks as the favourite trip I have taken.”

Since that trip to Egypt, squash has taken Miranda to fifteen countries on six continents; only shy a tournament in Antarctica for the perfect seven for seven.  

Experiencing some of the incredible places the world has to offer was one of squash’s first offerings to Miranda but squash was also to play a large role in her educational pursuits. Coming out of high school, Miranda was unsure of where her next step would be; but then Yale University, one of the most prestigious schools in the United States, offered Miranda a scholarship to play squash for the Bulldogs.

The opportunity to play NCAA squash while receiving an education from an Ivy League school was too great of an opportunity to turn down, and one Miranda would not regret taking. Miranda would become a three time First Team All American, a four time member of the All-Ivy Squash team, and win two NCAA National Team Championships with Yale. In her senior year Miranda would be named captain of the Yale woman’s squash team, win the  Women’s Intercollegiate Singles Championship, attain the #1 U.S. College Individual Squash Association Ranking, and be named Women’s Squash Player of the Year as well as Betty Richie Award  winner for Collegiate League MVP.

In 2008, after her last year at Yale, Miranda was offered a job to be a research assistant in New York City. It was an offer that Miranda thought long and hard about; but in the end, Miranda was not ready to call it quits on the sport that had given her so much. “If I had taken the job in New York, it would mean I could not play squash anymore, and I was just not ready to do that. I had an alternative offer to play and coach squash and that was just the right choice for me.”

Miranda receives the 2012 Kitchener Waterloo
Athlete of the Year Award.

Once again, the choice to follow squash led to great achievements and memories for Miranda. Starting in 2010, Miranda would win the Canadian Championship three consecutive times, only the 2nd women in the history of the event to do so. Miranda would also get a chance to represent Canada on the international stage at World Championships, Commonwealth Games, and Pan-Am Games events. In 2012, Miranda received the Kitchener-Waterloo athlete of the year award. She had been nominated six previous times for the athlete of the year honour in her hometown and finally broke through on her seventh opportunity in what Miranda described as an incredible moment.  

One of the largest reasons Miranda loves squash is that it combines individual and team environments. While the actual matches are singles in most of the international competitions, the competitions are still team events as each country is represented by a group of players competing together. Being able to share her success with teammates is very important to Miranda and there was no better example of this than at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, when Miranda and her teammates Steph Edmison and Sam Cornett won gold for Canada.

“To stand on the podium with Sam and Steph and listen to our national anthem, that was incredible”.

……………………………………………………

Miranda’s success has always been driven by her ultra-competitive nature; her game is built on giving her all and using her speed to chase down shot after shot after shot from her opponents. More than one adversary was left demoralised as they watched Miranda keep sending back everything they threw at her.

Ironically, and as is sometimes the case in sport, Miranda’s greatest strength could also play a critical role in her defeats.

“I was too impatient. I would try to make all these difficult shots for winners when looking back, the smart play was just to stay patient and wait for the right moment; but I was just too competitive and wanted to win so badly that I couldn’t help myself.”

Miranda’s full throttle attitude also left her with numerous injuries over her years as a squash player. “I had numerous back problems, rolled each of my ankles at least two or three times, pulled my hamstrings; I am the definition of injury prone.”

Miranda’s all in approach does not just apply on the squash court, and naturally, it can lead to injuries off the court as well; Miranda tore her ACL this fall playing intramurals at school. “I think I need to learn how not to give 110% all the time”, Miranda says with a laugh.  

Miranda’s injuries played a role in her decision to retire from competitive squash but the largest reason has been her desire to take on new challenges in the academic career she put on hold four years ago. “I have always had the desire to go to medical school and become a doctor and now that I have accomplished all my squash goals I am ready to move on.” Miranda is currently in her first of four years at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, studying to be an optometrist. “You need good eyesight to be a squash player” jokes Miranda. 

Miranda (foreground) returns a shot during the gold medal match of the
2011 Pan-American Games.

Now that Miranda’s time as a professional squash player has come to an end, she looks back and thinks of all the people that helped her along the way. “My family obviously, my coach at Yale, Dave Talbott, Gareth Weber, everyone at the National Squash Academy, Shauna Flath, there’s just too many to name. But none of this would have been possible without them”. And as a little reward for their help, Miranda says “in four years, they all get repaid in free eye exams!”

While she is ready to tackle the new pursuits in her life, Miranda’s years in squash will always be close to her heart. “I am really going to miss the tournaments, all the places I got to visit and experience, and all the amazing people I met over the years; but the thing I am going to miss most is the little moments with my teammates. The long plane rides spent sitting side by side, making each other smile and laugh. That’s often when the best memories happened.”

 

……………………………………………………

 

 

 

 

 

Top