Regina's Nikki Todd competes in Queen City Open squash tournament
Todd loses in semi-final battle to Egypt's Mayar Hany, but enjoys support of hometown crowd
Nikole Todd took up squash out of an unusual desire, not necessarily prompted by the sport itself.
"To be honest, I actually started because my brother played and he got to travel a lot," said Todd, who hails from Regina.
Now, as a professional squash player based in Toronto, the 27-year-old travels the world competing. But, this past weekend she found herself back in her hometown for the first ever Queen City Open.
The four-day tournament welcomed professional female squash athletes from far-flung countries such as Egypt, Switzerland, India and Colombia to Regina's Evolution Fitness.
"It's really exciting. I've never been able to compete in front of a home crowd at a pro level before," Todd told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend.
While she felt perhaps a little bit more pressure in competing before her family and friends, she said she could feel the support of the crowd behind her.
"They know I'm doing my best."
Todd advanced to the semi-final on Saturday, where she took on Egypt's Mayar Hany, with an appearance at the final, and a potential $15,000 prize in the offing.
Todd and Hany would rally hard before a full crowd, with the two athletes trading points and games, but Hany would ultimately win, carrying three out of the five games.
It was really nice to have the crowd behind me, and such a supportive community.- Nikki Todd, Queen City Open tournament competitor
"It was an awesome match," said Todd, describing it as "a battle all the way through.
"It was really nice to have the crowd behind me and such a supportive community."
She hopes the professional tournament will take place again next year, and perhaps broaden to include a men's tournament as well, capturing others' interest in the sport.
Next up for Todd is next weekend's Saskatchewan Open, followed by a trip to Australia for the Commonwealth Games.
"In an ideal world, I could do this for life," she said. However, she knows she has a limited number of years to compete at a professional level in squash.
"I'm going to play as long as I can, as long as my body will let me and as long as I'm still having fun."