Before US Open champions Mohammed El Shorbaghy for the men and Camille Serme for the women are presented with their trophies, they will wait for the head coach of the Penn men's squash team to call their name.
For the past four years, Gilly Lane has made the trek next door to Drexel University to serve as an emcee for the yearly US Open of Squash tournament.
Before every match, the emcee is responsible for introducing each of the players and giving a quick bio before getting the crowd pumped up for the game. In between games, Lane also kept the crowd enthused with t-shirt giveaways along with other freebies.
After each match ends, the emcee is also tasked with interviewing the winner and keeping the crowd ready before the next round of matches begin.
“You get to hear the ins and outs of what’s going on on the tour and you get a different perspective as a player and a host,” Lane said. “I feel that I appreciate the game more.”
In 2012, US Squash found themselves in the market to hire someone new to serve as host for the US Open. Looking to choose someone with local ties, former Penn squash player and director of doubles and professional squash for US Squash Graham Bassett recommended his former teammate for the job.
“I said sure I thought it would be fun,” Lane added. “One year turned into more... and now I’m four years in and it’s been a great experience.”
The Philadelphia native has also added his own personal touch to the gig. Each new day brings a new bowtie strapped around the collar of Lane’s suit. The fashion statement has actually become so well-renowned around the squash community that the emcee actually has heard complaints on days that he eschewed the accessory.
“It started last year since my brother loves bowties,” Lane said. “It’s something fun, and I like to have a good time.”
The job wasn’t solely confined to the emceeing. Lane also split time coaching three different players early on in the tournament’s qualifying rounds. Sophomore Reeham Sedky and junior Hayes Murphy of Penn squash were coached by Lane in the tournament’s qualifying rounds.
With just two points separating Sedky from qualifying for the main draw, an injury forced the Washington native to concede the fifth game and the match to her opponent Nele Gillis of Belgium. Murphy also found himself close to securing a victory before losing his game ball advantage.
“It shows how hard they worked and their progression,” Lane said. “I think they represented themselves and this university in an unbelievable way.”
With another successful stint at this year’s tournament, the bowtie-clad host will be looking forward to what new challenges await at the 2017 edition of the tournament.
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