16 December 2010
NICK MATTHEW CROWNS PERFECT
YEAR WITH WORLD OPEN TITLE
Nick Matthew wrote down a wish list for 2010 that
included three major
targets: the world No.1 ranking, the Commonwealth Games
gold medal, and the World Open title.
Last week he completed a dazzling full house of
achievements by lifting the World Open crown in Saudi Arabia. Delivering
in style on all fronts, Matthew certainly made the year 2010 his own.
Achieving those three targets certainly tasted sweeter
after his long lay-off because of a shoulder injury. He returned fitter,
stronger, faster and more focused. He always possessed phenomenal mental
discipline, especially in the face of adversity, and he numbers many
sensational victories from seemingly hopeless positions throughout his
The new, improved version was even harder to beat. Simply
put, he would not allow matches to drift away from him as he sometimes
had in the past.
Matthew took over the world No.1 ranking in June and will
be back there, ahead of Egypt's Ramy Ashour, in the January list.
His global rivalry with Ramy perhaps eclipses his
domestic competition with fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop. But,
played out on the international stage, their matches always deliver
contests of high quality with a definite edge and intensity that no
other current rivalries propuce.
Matthew, the top seed, faced Willstrop in the final in
Saudi, as he did in the Commonwealth Games gold-medal decider, and there
was a special frisson surrounding this first all-English World Open
Willstrop had not beaten Matthew in three years, and he
had a point to prove. The opening game took 21 minutes and it went to
Willstrop. With 40 minutes on the clock Matthew had drawn level at one
The effort clearly took its toll on Willstrop, who had
battled through marathon matches against compatriots Daryl Selby and
Peter Barker in the third round and semi-finals.
Matthew dominated the third and fourth games to triumph
8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 in 74 minutes, collecting the biggest purse in
squash history along the way.
Next year promises to be equally fascinating. Matthew,
now 30, begins in pole position and the 27-year-old Willstrop will have
to dig even deeper if he is to catch up.
He began the year with a spectacular series of victories
over Amr Shabana, Ramy Ashour and Karim Darwish to win the Tournament of
Champions in New York but could not reach those heights again during
2010 as the supremacy swung between Ashour and Matthew.
MATTHEW PAYS TRIBUTE TO WILLSTROP
New world champion Nick Matthew paid tribute to runner-up
James Willstrop after their battle on the beach in Al-Khobar.
Matthew said: "I only thought about winning the title in
the last few rallies. You are only human. At that stage you are playing
against yourself instead of your opponent.
"You are sort of fighting the demons in your head. You
see the finish line and as it comes closer in terms of score it gets
further away because you are drifting in your thoughts.
"With every single thought I tried to tell myself 'next
rally, next rally'. I didn't play badly in the first game but James was
just immaculate. He was unlucky that he had had those hard matches which
took it out of him."
Referring to the shoulder surgery in 2008 which kept him
away from the PSA World Tour for nine months, Matthew added: "I never in
my wildest dreams thought that all this would happen to me. As for that
shoulder injury, it taught me to keep things in perspective - not to get
too low on the low points, and not to get carried away either with the
high if I am in a big final."
ENGLAND'S BEST SHOWING
England enjoyed their best-ever performance in a World
Open with three semi-finalists lining up at Sunset Beach. Peter Barker
reached the last four when his quarter-final opponent, Karim Darwish,
conceded with a thigh injury when he slipped on the floor with the match
score at one game all and the Egyptian leading 7-6 in the third. After a
three-minute injury break, Darwish returned to the court but before a
ball could be struck he offered his hand to the left-handed Londoner.
A subdued Barker said: "I thought I was playing well and
had a good chance to go through. But no-one ever wants to do it like
that. It's a very physical game and when there's a bit of sweat on the
court that can happen to anyone. I really feel for Karim and wish him a
"I'm in the semi-finals of the World Open, and I'll get
to play Shorbagy or James. If it's James, then I've never beaten him -
what better time to do it!"
After a marathon battle, it was Willstrop who overcame
the No.8 seed 8-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-8 in 87 minutes. Matthew, meanwhile,
overcame Amr Shabana 11-6, 12-10, 12-10 in 59 minutes. After the final,
Matthew thanked his fellow English team-mates for their support, saying:
“It’s been such an amazing year for me and winning this title means a
lot. I would also like to give credit to the rest of the England lads,
and James in particular, as they have all been fantastic throughout.”
Back home, the celebrations continued, with a cork or two
heard popping in the Manchester offices of England Squash and
Jim Lord, Operations Director for ESR, said he was
delighted but not surprised with the way the English contingent
performed. He said: “What an achievement for English squash! To see two
Englishmen that have worked hard all year competing at this level, and
producing such a gripping final, is a great feeling.
“With our success at the Commonwealth Games, and Nick
achieving his World Number 1 status, it has been a truly great year for
squash in England. Having such a talented elite squad that continue to
excel at such prestigious events proves the work that we’re doing at
grassroots is paying off, and that is something that we are keen to
2011 and beyond.”
2nd December 2010
coach reveals inner turmoil
My respect for leading American coach Paul Assaiante has
grown enormously after reading an interview this week which heralded the
launch of a coaching book in which he also deals with personal family
In the book, called “Run To The Roar: Coaching To
Overcome Fear,” Assaiante revealed the enormous contrast between
coaching the most successful college sports team in US history and
dealing with a son who is a heroin addict.
During an interview with the Hartford Courant, Assaiante
done a better job working with other people’s children than with my
over the Trinity College squash programme, Assaiante has led his squad
to 12 national titles and enters the new season with an unbeaten record
stretching over 224 matches, which is thought to be the longest winning
streak in American collegiate
the spotlight, Assaiante blames himself for his son’s drugs problems.
Here is an
extract from the interview by Kathleen Megan published in the Hartford
Success on the court tempered by troubles with
In 1996, Trinity College President Evan Dobelle asked the small school’s
squash coach, Paul Assaiante, what it would take to compete with the
Ivy League colleges that dominated the sport like an old boys’ club.
“Not to be national champions, Paul, but just contend and maybe knock
them off once in a while,” Dobelle said.
To contend, Assaiante told him, he would have to recruit players from
the world. Dobelle gave him the go-ahead. Then, as Assaiante went to
Dobelle added, “Don’t blow this.”
Today, Assaiante has collected 12 national titles and is running a
winning streak, reportedly the longest streak in American collegiate
history. He has recruited players from all over the world - every
except Antarctica - and somehow turned the tightly wound, highly
individualistic premier squash players into a team that cares about each
But while the accolades have piled on his shoulders for his coaching
success, Assaiante has faced personal tragedy for which he largely
himself: His son Matthew has wrestled with a heroin addiction for years
has been in and out of jail.
“I’ve done a better job working with other people’s children than with
own,” said Assaiante in an interview this week.
Now Assaiante has written a book, “Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome
Fear,” in which the above scene with Dobelle is described. In it, he
details his theories on coaching; his good decisions and bad ones; the
nail-biting matches when it appeared certain the streak was over; as
the journey with his son.
Here we talk to Assaiante, 58, about his book.
Q: What is your approach to coaching your championship teams?
A: My feeling is that what you fear owns you. Most of my contemporaries
will sit down before the season and say: What do we want to accomplish
team this year? What do we want to accomplish as individuals? I don't do
that. We don't goal-set here. I just ask the guys: What are you afraid
What's your biggest fear? When you come to grips with those, you are
reach your top physical performance because you are not encumbered by
Q: What comes up when you ask that?
A. Well, of course, right now, the big thing that they say is the
don’t want to be on the team that loses.” They are afraid of letting
teammates down. We emphasize team so powerfully here. They talk about
disappointing their family. The natural fears. You know, Arthur Ashe
told me that everyone chokes, everybody. But the people who are more
successful are the people who are more able to manage their choking. The
first thing is to recognize that it's going to happen, because if you go
the court and you’re thinking “Oh god, I hope I don’t choke,” then it’s
going to happen and you are going to be scared to death of it. So we
all the time about, when you’re choking, take deep breaths and move your
feet. We try to help them come to grips with their fears. My biggest
becoming too wed to winning. I didn’t come here to win. I came here to
touch young people and I don’t want to be wed to winning.
Q. How do you deal with the burden of the streak?
A. It isn’t tough on me at all because I don’t care. I look forward to
we lose. It's going to be wonderful, a celebration, because then we can
on with the business of starting a new one. For the kids who practice
day under 12 banners, that’s a little more problematic, so we talk about
a lot. The first day of practice I held up a piece of paper that had the
number 12 on it and then 224 which is the number of wins and I tore it
pieces. I said, guys, it doesn’t mean anything.
Q. How did you decide to weave your son Matthew’s story into your book?
A. Having Matthew in there was always important. You have to have a life
that's balanced. My life has not been balanced. And it doesn’t matter
you accomplish professionally. Something in the ledger is going to give
my children, particularly Matthew, paid a dear price and so it has to be
shared. Otherwise it would be living a lie. You have to be honest. When
sign up to be a parent, you promise to be omnipresent and there was a
in Matthew’s life where I wasn’t there to guide him at every fork in the
road, so he was making decisions that I wasn’t there to help him with
invariably made some very poor choices and I can’t have that time back.
in a program in Vermont now. We talk often. I’m hopeful now. I’m not
optimistic, but I’m hopeful.
Q: Where does the title, “Run to the Roar” come from?
A: In the jungle, lions hunt in packs and they take with them with the
oldest female of the pride. Usually, by this point, she can’t catch her
food, she’s infirm. They put her in the middle of the field and she has
deep roar. All the lions are hiding in the bush, so when she roars, the
run away from the roar to their deaths. It means go directly at the
problems. The problems are never as bad as they seem.
18th November 2010
I am so proud of a young man I have the privilege of
coaching. James Evans won the British Under-15 title in Manchester
recently and showed enormous determination and composure to fight back
from 2-1 down in the final to beat the top seed, Hamish Falconer from
James has certainly made his mark on the Kent senior
squash scene in the past few months, recording several notable victories
for The Mote Squash Club first team.
He is currently chopping up most of his first team
colleagues and recently beat former county champion Duane Harrison in
the Bexley Open. His victory in Manchester crowned a fantastic year in
which he made a successful debut for England juniors and led the Kent
Under-15 team to the national inter-county championship.
He should be very proud of his British title and it’s a
wonderful achievement also for his mother, Sharon, who introduced James
to squash and has been at his side in tournaments all over the country
as he has developed into being a real star in the making. Having said
that, he is a very modest and polite young man, an intelligent pupil and
a real pleasure to work with.
James is already one of our leading under-19 players and
many of last season’s successful Kent under-15 squad are playing
alongside him in that age-group. While celebrating their success, the
fact that these guys are also filling the under-17 squad highlights a
disturbing lack of junior activity at many squash clubs. Here in Kent we
have made enormous strides following the successful launch earlier this
year of the Kent Open PSA tournament and the Kent Junior Festival that
ran for three months leading up to it.
We are already making plans for next year’s Kent Open and
Junior Festival and our priority is to introduce a large group of
under-11s to the sport each season. That way we will have the most
important age-group in place to start the junior development conveyor
belt. We have already launched an under-11 coaching squad on the back of
the Festival and our intention is to repeat the process every year. That
way we will have an under-13 squad next season, an under-15 squad two
years after that, and so on through the age-groups.
I have said it before and I will happily say it again if
it helps to kick-start some action elsewhere in the country. British
junior squash is suffering because we are losing the numbers game. We
simply do not have enough junior players across the board in all the age
groups, largely because the majority of our clubs are poorly managed by
committees who fail to see the bigger picture.
It’s not just about elite players and the next wave of
county squads, but also about creating a new generation of members who
will keep clubs alive in the future.
CANARY WHARF TICKETS ON
Tickets are now on sale for the 2011 ISS Canary Wharf
Squash Classic and it will be a real pleasure to welcome reigning
champion Nick Matthew to the East Wintergarden venue as the Commonwealth
The eighth edition of the ISS Canary Wharf Squash
Classic, a PSA Five-Star world-ranking tournament, takes place from
March 21-25 next year and co-promoter Peter Nicol is looking forward to
Nicol, who held the world No.1 slot for more than five
years, was delighted to see Matthew win the Commonwealth gold medal in
Delhi in an all-English final against James Willstrop, a three-times
champion at Canary Wharf.
Matthew’s triumph followed Nicol’s Commonwealth Games
wins over Australia’s David Palmer in Melbourne four years ago and
Canadian Jonathon Power in Malaysia in 1998.
Nicol said: “The competition for the No.1 position
between Nick Matthew and Ramy Ashour of Egypt is producing an
electrifying era for squash
“Ramy is one of the most gifted players in the history of
the game but Nick produced the most consistent squash of his career to
claim the No.1 position for several months earlier this year.
“He thoroughly deserved his gold medal in Delhi and was
clearly the best player in the competition. He plays fast, aggressive,
attacking squash and not many players can get close to him at the
Matthew’s triumph over Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in the
final at Canary Wharf in March this year helped him to reach the No.1
slot for the first time in his career but his marathon semi-final win
over Willstrop was the outstanding match of the tournament.
Nicol added: “Those two played themselves to an absolute
standstill in a match of incredible quality lasting two hours and ten
“Nick needed two hours of treatment from the
physiotherapist to get ready for the final the next day and it showed
just how fit and strong he is to get back on court less than 24 hours
later and dominate the final against Gaultier.”
Nicol is urging squash lovers to book their tickets early
to avoid disappointment. He added: “With squash of that quality, it was
no surprise that this year’s Canary Wharf tournament broke all records
by selling out every ticket on every day of the competition.
“The crowds at Canary Wharf are probably the most
knowledgeable and vocal anywhere in squash and they obviously love
cheering on their home-based heroes.
“We are very proud of the fact that we are able to stage
the event at the East Wintergarden at Canary Wharf and over the years it
has become one of the most popular venues on the world tour for players
and spectators alike.
“We have wonderfully loyal and supportive Title Sponsors
in ISS Facility Services and we are enormously grateful to them and our
Host Sponsors Canary Wharf Group plc for making it possible to showcase
top professional squash in such a spectacular fashion.”
Kent Open Exhibition Evening
Alan Clyne, our reigning Kent Open
champion, is heading back to The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone on Friday
December 10 for a special exhibition evening.
The Scottish international from Edinburgh
will be joined by his Commonwealth Games doubles partner Harry Leitch to
take on Kent’s finest doubles exponents after a special coaching clinic
with some of the county’s leading juniors.
Alan and Harry reached the semi-finals in
Delhi after knocking out England’s highly-fancied pairing of Peter
Barker and Daryl Selby. Depending on how the English boys perform in the
World Open, it would be nice to set up a re-match.
A Scottish bookmaker friend of mine is
happy to lay some interesting odds!
World Squash Day
News has flooded in with some major
events taking place in Fiji, Iran, India, Russia, Malaysia and the USA.
Things were a little quiet in England
Interestingly, a number of English
counties made it known that they wanted to see some changes in the way
the game is run in this country ahead of the England Squash and
I emailed several of the counties to see
how many were supporting World Squash Day. The number of replies led me
to believe that many of our leading county administrators are more
interested in the politics than in doing something practical to develop
Next year World Squash Day is planning to
focus on attracting more females to the sport. Ideas to the usual email
Scottish squash ace passes away
Former Edinburgh squash star John McGhee has died, aged 53, after a long
illness. Capped 44 times, McGhee helped introduce a new generation to
squash during the boom period of the 1970s and 80s.
Former Scotland and Edinburgh Sports Club colleague Ray Stevenson paid
tribute, saying: “John and I didn’t come from the traditional private
school background but from Firrhill High, where teacher Dougie Yule was
a squash enthusiast. As a player John was renowned as a battler and it
showed in the way he fought his illness.”
23 September 2010
Siri Fort Sports Complex
Competition dates: 4-13 October 2010
TEAMS ON HOLD IN COMMONWEALTH GAMES CRISIS
Taking a late summer holiday in Tunisia meant a squash-free and
media-free escape from the everyday stresses of life. I deliberately
left my mobile phone and laptop at home and refused to buy a newspaper
during the holiday.
However, I couldn't resist tuning in to the BBC World Service on the
hotel TV to catch up with the headlines.
Sadly, the biggest news item of the week was the seemingly shambolic
preparations for the Commonwealth Games.
The collapse of a spectator footbridge near to the main stadium
highlighted the fact that short-cuts were being taken in a desperate
attempt to complete the building projects ahead of the opening events on
My first calls when I arrived home were to check the mood inside several
national squash teams heading for Delhi. The official response from the
squash camps was that the players were keen and hungry to go, but higher
up the management scale several national federations, including New
Zealand, Canada and Scotland, decided to delay their departure pending
emergency Commonwealth Games checks on building progress made in the
next few days.
Reports from the BBC today (Thursday) included pictures of unfinished
building work and unhygienic conditions in several accommodation blocks
in the athletes' village.
Despite angry comments from various national federations, Team England's
chef de mission Craig Hunter announced that he is optimistic the
problems will be solved at the last minute "like an Indian wedding".
English squash supporters will be hoping that, should the Games go
ahead, Nick Matthew will have recovered from the illness that forced him
to withdraw from a PSA tournament in Manchester.
Ramy Ashour beat James Willstrop in the final of that competition then
flew across the Atlantic to overcome Gregory Gaultier in the deciding
match of a one-day squash extravaganza in Boston's Symphony Hall last
SELBY WAITS FOR DECISION
England's Daryl Selby says he is confident the Games will go ahead. The
world number nine from Essex told the BBC today: "People from Team
England are out there and they say that the preparation is fine. They
have the best perspective, so we have to trust what they say. Team
England have put our minds at rest and have said everything looks fine
from their end."Selby added: "If they make the decision not to go
then we'd have to trust them and believe it was the right decision.
Hopefully everything will be sorted, it becomes a smoothly-run Games,
and everyone enjoys it for the athletic ability.""Unfortunately squash
is not in the Olympics at the moment, so for us it's the biggest major
Games. It's going to be an honour to represent my country and hopefully
I'll bring back a medal."
NOW DAVID AIMS FOR NUMBER SIX
Congratulations to Nicol David for achieving a fifth World Open victory
in Sharm El Sheikh. Her straight-games victory (11-5, 11-8, 11-6) in the
final over Egypt's local favourite Omneya Abdel Kawy brought the
Malaysian level with Australia's Sarah FitzGerald on five world titles.
In her typically humble and modest style, David was quick to thank
Fitzgerald for the guidance she had given her earlier in her
career, along with her long-time coach Liz Irving, another Australian.
David will certainly be back next year to aim for a sixth world title
and cast an indelible mark on her domination of women's squash.
BOSTON REFS PASS THE TEXT
We all know how squash fans love to debate refereeing decisions - and
sometimes let the officials know their feelings during major
tournaments. Well, the Boston Symphony Hall audience had the opportunity
to influence decisions by texting the referee to let him know if they
agreed with his calls. This took place during the third-place shoot-out
between Jonathon Power and Amr Shabana, with both players having two
"lifelines" to ask the crowd if they agreed with the
decision. For once, Power was happy to side with the match
official as decisions went his way during his 11-4 victory.
Earlier, Power had lost a new-style tiebreak against Ramy Ashour with
the score level at one game all. Given the option of playing to three or
a single point, Power continued the habit of a lifetime in opting for
sudden-death. This time it was Ramy who clinched it to reach his place
in the final, but it was crowd favourite Power who won the biggest cheer
of the night.
Good to see more interesting innovations from promoter John Nimick
following the introduction of a five-let rule in an exhibition series in
America organised earlier this year by US Pro Squash chief Joe McManus.
9th September 2010
WILLSTROP ON PAKISTAN
Willstrop aired his forthright views on Pakistan in his latest column in
the column Evening Post and accused the country or cheating in World
Junior Championships. He wrote:
the websites on Sunday morning made it palpably clear that either the
sporting world is in a complete mess, or the media and the public's
thirst for scandal far overbears the interest they have in a plain old
first of the two main headlines concerns the astonishing news of
Pakistan's inane cricket team, who could not be in worse position if
second is yet another allegation of adultery by a high-profile
sportsman, this time Wayne Rooney.
Rooney's extra-marital dalliances are any of our business is doubtful,
the former matter however puts the reputation of a whole sport in
jeopardy and the public has a right to know the outcome.
Amir at 18 looked to have a potentially brilliant future; how sad that
one so young and talented has potentially sacrificed his whole career
for the sake of money.
than a symbol of hope for a country in political turmoil and most
recently ravaged by floods, some of these players have disgraced their
nation and let down their sport.
it now comes to light in another undercover interview that a team-mate,
Yasir Hameed, has confirmed that some of his colleagues are guilty of
unsavoury piece of video, he claims that he has never taken the offer of
money in matches, and ironically states that he "had been saved by God"
and that it was "fate"!
have to pray that God is still listening because he may need to be saved
again from charges of withholding information.
the years, Pakistan has produced a number of amazing squash players,
most notably Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan.
Pakistan's reputation in squash has in the past also been tarnished by
what can only be called cheating.
of the two world junior team and individual championships in which I was
involved there were Pakistani players taking part who appeared much
older than the official age limit.
the second of these events one of these players was sent home, and the
tournament hierarchy cited personal reasons for his ejection.
players never reappeared on the pro-tour which fuelled the suspicion
that they had been brought in to significantly strengthen the Pakistan
allegations were eventually confirmed years later by other Pakistan
players who were against this practice of age misrepresentation.
Unfortunately, cheating in sport is something I fear will always have to
be combatted and certainly doesn't restrict itself to Pakistan – which
has perhaps been unfairly singled out in this column.
thing is certain, corruption in sport needs to be harshly dealt with –
maybe a life ban is the only reasonable penalty in this most recent
eyes another Commonwealth Games medal By JONATHAN MILLMOW - The Dominion
Post Last year Tamsyn Leevey decided to have one last shot at squash.
year-old solo mother from Wainuiomata could see the Commonwealth Games
on the horizon and she liked the thought of adding to the silver medal
she and Shelley Kitchen won in the doubles in Melbourne in 2006.
other option was to return to work, possibly processing GST accounts.
with three-and-a-bit weeks to go, Leevey feels she is ready and says she
is fit and hitting the ball well.
been training four hours a day, six days a week," she said. "I can get
better but I feel at a good level."
Everything was going to plan until a few weeks ago when Kitchen withdrew
from the Games due to exhaustion.
threw a spanner in the works. Leevey's doubles partner, Joelle King, was
switched to pair with Jaclyn Hawkes and Leevey had to strike up a new
combination with Matamata's Kylie Lindsay (51 in the world).
to have diminished her medal prospects.
wouldn't say that. We know each other's game very well.
"Communication is a big part of it. Maybe we won't have the higher
seeding that Joelle and I would've had but there is no pressure on us at
all and sometimes that can work in your favour.
racquet skills are amazing, she was very good at a young age.
had a couple of hits together.
of us are playing singles at the Comm Games so we can spend the whole
time playing doubles to get ready."
is yet to be made, but Leevey jokes that having a court to play on is a
greater concern to her, given the venue construction delays in New
competition will be tight, it is on the day, it is so cut-throat, best
of three sets, first to 11."
career has been stop-start. She had a career-high singles ranking of 25
in 2005, retired in 2006, then drifted in and out of the game before
committing again last year.
happy with my decision," she said. "I get to go and experience it all
again – it is going to be amazing. I'd love to come home with another
medal, any colour."
went to India in 2004 for the world doubles championships. She finds the
overseas trips unusual given all the downtime she has compared to the
busy life being a mother to sons Niwa, 9, and Cassius, 3.
Wellington coach Nick Mita has helped prepare Leevey. They have finished
her strength phase and are now focusing on her speed.
was a speed bump at the weekend when Cassius was hospitalised with
asthma but he says Leevey never complains.
12th August 2010
CLOUGHIE: TOP MANAGER AND TOP BLOCKER!
Former Nottingham Forest striker Garry Birtles gives a vivid insight
into the often unfathomable mind of football manager Brian Clough in his
weekly column for the Nottingham Post.
Clough knew that all sporting combat is eventually solved by individual
strengths and weaknesses, and he was a pioneer of what we now call mind
games. In his column, Birtles admits that being Clough’s regular squash
partner was something of a poisoned chalice. And he also reveals that
the wily old fox was something of an expert blocker in the middle of the
squash court. Birtles writes:
I am a
shocking loser. Just ask my old
squash partners at Chilwell Olympia. I used
to play there every Thursday afternoon when I was at Forest.
You can't even go for a stroll for a carton of milk 48 hours before a
game these days without asking permission of the fitness trainer and the
The Gaffer loved squash though and it was never a problem in those days.
I was a pretty good squash player. I thought about taking it up before
football and I must have been half decent because the Gaffer had me play
with him at Trent Bridge
squash club on a regular basis.
But I lost count of the number of racquets I smashed up in anger on the
back wall because I had lost a poxy game of squash to a mate! But that
was the way I had been brought up. The Gaffer always drilled it into us
that if you are 3-0 up, go 4-0 up and 5-0 up. Never let up. Never take
the foot off the pedal. That is a weakness. Destroy them, grind them
into the dirt.
Once the gaffer discovered I played squash, that was it. He had me
earmarked as his new playing partner and that might sound a privilege,
but let me assure you, it was not.
The way it would work was fairly simple. He would let me go down to
training and complete virtually the whole session and then, as regular
as clockwork, ten minutes before everyone was allowed to pack up for the
day and return to the ground, an apprentice would come jogging over in
my direction and utter the immortal words 'you're playing squash with
the Gaffer in ten minutes'.
I used to have to sprint back up the banks of the Trent and get back to
the dressing rooms in double-quick time.
The best I could hope for was to rub most of the mud off my legs and
filthy training kit, before grabbing my squash gear and shifting my
backside to the front of the ground where the Mercedes would be running
and he would be looking at his watch.
He would drive us over there and we would be straight on the court,
which was where the fun began!
Despite always complaining about having a dodgy knee, he was a bloody
good sportsman and loved squash and tennis, but I was better than him.
He knew it and I knew it, but I don't think I ever won a game! It was
not that I was some pathetic brown-nose who let him win in the vain hope
that might curry favour and get me in the first team. He was a terrible
cheat and hated losing.
Whenever I was attempting to manoeuvre myself towards the T and into the
optimum position to make my next shot, I would somehow bump into this
immovable object that went by the name of Clough.
Or he would play his shot and accidently set up a personal road block on
the exact route I needed to take to continue the rally. 'Would you like
that point again son?' was his usual response when that occurred.
There was no such thing as a let when he was playing squash. Effectively
I was left apologising for running into his racquet with my teeth and
the point was his!
It was a ritual humiliation I endured for an hour a couple of times a
week. We had some great games and battles, but whenever it got to key
points, or tight, I knew the offer of replaying the point was never far
Cheating? He would have called it gamesmanship and he hated losing,
especially to a carpet fitter.
HARVARD TO LEARN
Mike Way has been named director of the men’s and women’s squash squads
at Harvard. Way has coached a number of leading professionals on the PSA
and WISPA tours, including former world champions Jonathon Power of
Canada and Sarah Fitzgerald of Australia.
Way has said he is looking forward to becoming part of college squash. A
press release Way says: “I am delighted and
honored to have been offered the position of director of squash at
Harvard. I have coached a number of young men and women over the years
who have gone on to compete at the varsity level. This opportunity will
enable me to be an important part of their further development. I am
also excited to be part of the broader and dynamic community that makes
up the college squash scene.”
Way, who most recently served as the head squash coach at the National
Squash Training Centre in Canada, helped create the training center and
was an integral figure in developing over 50 world and national
champions, All-Americans and junior national champions. Way has been
the primary coach from the U13 category to some of the most successful
U.S. college players over the last 10 years, including Harvard’s Laura
Gemmell, the 2010 CSA national champion and Ivy League Player and Rookie
of the Year. Way also worked since 2003 as the head squash professional
at The Oakville Club, where he was directly responsible for all aspects
of the program, leagues, tournaments, clinics, exhibitions and coaching.
Way will take the reins of
the Harvard squash program after the controversial dismissal of Satinder
Bajwa in April. Last season, the women’s team won the Howe Cup—the team
national championship—but the men’s team, which took second place
nationally at the start of Bajwa’s tenure, placed fifth for the second
At the time, athletic director Robert Scalise said in a press release
that the athletic department “decided to go in a different direction
with the leadership of the program.”
A man who has led several players to worldwide prestige, Way’s most
notable success was the career of Power, who clinched the No. 1 spot in
the Professional Squash Association’s world rankings in May 1999 and
held that rank for 14 months during his career. Power retired from
professional squash in March 2006 after reclaiming the first-place spot
from Australian David Palmer, though he still played for the Canadian
national team at the World Team Championships in 2007 and 2009.
Way has also coached other noteworthy players, including Graham Ryding,
a three-time Canadian squash champion, and Shahier Razik, who won the
most recent Canadian squash championship—his fourth—after Power withdrew
due to a leg injury.
But though Way has never headed a collegiate team before, he does have
experience coaching younger players, including rising Harvard sophomore
Laura Gemmell, who posted a 16-0 overall record at No. 1 on the women’s
team last season en route to an individual national championship.
Working with junior squash players, Way said, enables him to participate
in a “broad spectrum of coaching” and illustrate to players that as
young adults, their abilities can still improve.
“I want us—and I know it sounds like a cliché—but when I tell them I
really want them to enjoy the program, I mean it,” he said. “I really
want to show them they can still develop as players.”
Way said that finding assistant coaches will be among his top priorities
when he arrives in Cambridge, but rather than radically changing the
existing program, he said that fundamentally, he’ll be doing what any
other coach would do—“working very hard and very smart”—though he does
offer his players this piece of advice.
“Get ready—and I mean that with an exclamation mark.”
Sources: College Squash Association (www.collegesquashassociation.com)
and Harvard Crimson (www.harvard.edu)
SYLVAN JOINS THE REDS
Richardson is a familiar and popular figure around the squash circuit,
treating a succession of tired bodies during major tournaments.
former Simply Red musician traded in the fame game with Mick Hucknall to
learn a new career as a physiotherapist.
his success obviously travelled far beyond the world of squash and this
week he was announced as the new masseur to Liverpool FC.
joined the Anfield club for pre-season training in Switzerland and told
BBC Liverpool: "They have been giving me a lot of stick, especially
assistant manager Sammy Lee."
Sylvan will be looking forward to Liverpool’s fixture on September 19,
when he might well be meeting up at Old Trafford with his former Simply
Red band-mate Hucknall, who is a keen supporter of Liverpool's main
rivals, Manchester United.
Richardson was kept extremely busy by the walking wounded during the ISS
Canary Wharf Classic in March, with champion Nick Matthew thanking him
during his victory speech for the two-hour treatment he received from
Sylvan after his brutal semi-final victory over James Willstrop, which
lasted a similar length of time.
will be charged with helping to keep some of the most expensive athletes
on the planet in prime condition in the treament rooms at Anfield and
the Melwood training ground.
READY FOR GAMES
Bailey is a real inspiration to anyone struggling to overcome illness or
injury. For years she has been fighting the effects of a debilitating
virus infection and, more recently, a knee injury.
determination has been rewarded with a place in England’s Commonwealth
Games squad heading for Delhi in October.
30, won a silver medal in the women's doubles at the 2002 Games, and
bronze in the same event in 2006.
slipped down the world rankings following a serious knee injury.
told BBC Lincolnshire: "It was a goal of mine but it looked a long way
off over the last two years, but the team selectors have kept faith in
who was a beaten quarter-finalist in the women's singles in 2002 and
2006, added: "Having played in two previous Commonwealth Games, my
experience probably helped with their decision."
squad - men: Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, Peter Barker, Daryl Selby,
Jenny Duncalf, Alison Waters, Laura Massaro, Sarah Kippax, Tania Bailey.
HOTELS IDEAL FOR COURTING COUPLES
always on the look-out for special hotels that include squash among the
facilities on offer to guests. I can now happily add another venue to
Avisford Park Hilton Hotel, situated on the A27 between Arundel and
Chichester in glorious West Sussex, possesses an 18-hole golf course,
two squash courts and a delightful outdoor swimming pool. Your humble
correspondent and his long-suffering wife celebrated their 30th wedding
anniversary last weekend and Avisford Park was an ideal location.
might imagine, the idea was to get as far away from squash business as
possible and I was banned from stowing the squash rackets in the boot.
I look forward to another visit when I might be able to squeeze in a
game or two.
favourite haunts with courts on-site include the Racquet Club Hotel,
Liverpool, and the White Oaks resort at Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada.
Ideal for courting couples.
24th June 2010
WIN A HIT WITH NICK MATTHEW
great challenge for any aspiring junior squash player: the chance to get
on court with world No.1 Nick Matthew!
coming weeks he is going to be fronting a squash challenge with the new
Talent Nation website (www.talentnation.com),
encouraging youngsters to film them trying to hit as many “figure of
eight” shots in a minute. The winner will get to spend a training
session with Nick.
Nation is a brilliant new website created for genuine sports
Squash is among 128 sports with its own channel.
Users are invited to create their own Locker (like a profile), to upload
videos and photos of their sporting achievements, to safely interact
with other users and stars, and to share comments and tips on their
Unlike other social networking sites, TalentNation has employed
specialist security software which ensures no inappropriate language,
behaviour or contact is allowed on site.
with Nick Matthew and many other sports stars on:
KENT OPEN SUCCESS: NO
RESTING ON OUR LAURELS
already started on developing next year’s Kent Open and Kent Squash
Festival following the success of this year’s first edition.
professional tournament, held at The Mote Squash Club in the county town
of Maidstone, was the pinnacle event of the three-month Kent Squash
Festival, which introduced more than 300 school pupils to squash and
of play in the PSA One Star tournament produced a week of top-class
entertainment at the Mote and it was great to see spectators travelling
to watch the action from all over the county.
events like this is always a major undertaking and we are grateful to
England Squash and Racketball for their enormous support, with further
sponsorship emerging from Harrow Rackets, Kent SRA and the Shepherd
Neame brewery, plus a number of generous individual donations.
sponsorship search for 2011 has already begun and a number of solid
pledges are already in place.
wonderful to see the PSA players willingly giving up time in the
afternoons to help coach school children during the daily clinics at The
Mote and we look forward to seeing a significant growth in the number of
junior members at squash clubs throughout the county as a result of this
targets for the Open and the Festival were to raise the profile of the
sport through an ongoing publicity campaign and to attract new players
to the sport. We would like to think we achieved both targets but there
is no resting on our laurels.
ambition is to reach every school in the county over the next few years
to attract new players and provide a much larger playing base for our
interested to learn from one of our Egyptian visitors that his home club
in Cairo has around 180 junior members.
of programme is bound to create the kind of competitive atmosphere
responsible for the recent surge in Egyptian squash at all levels.
numbers will also sustain a team of full-time coaches, and increasing
the number of qualified coaches in the county has to be another of our
priorities as we look to build on this year’s success.
squash to compete with the likes of Egypt, we need to build our junior
participant base as quickly as possible.
27th May 2010
WILLSTROP’S TRIBUTE TO WORLD NUMBER ONE MATTHEW
James Willstrop and Nick Matthew enjoy a phenomenal rivalry on court.
Much has been made of Willstrop’s reaction to his defeat by Matthew in
last year’s British Open final. But any thoughts of possible friction
between the two players were clearly dispelled at the climax of their
phenomenal two-hour battle in the semi-final of the ISS Canary Wharf
Willstrop’s challenge in that match was ended by injury, a freak fall
causing a painful spasm of cramp that completely immobilised the 6ft 5in
Matthew’s response, one of obvious concern for Willstrop’s well-being,
and his refusal to accept an instant victory as he insisted on his
opponent being given more time to recover after the referee had gone on
court to award him the match, clearly illustrated the enormous respect
both men have for each other, as did the hug in mid-court when Willstrop
was finally able to stand up and concede defeat.
That respect was echoed this week in Willstrop’s column in the Yorkshire
Evening Post as Matthew celebrated his elevation to number one in the
Willstrop’s commentary provided a clear insight into the stress that
Matthew had to overcome to beat Thierry Lincou in his semi-final of the
Sky Open to collect the ranking points necessary to overtake Ramy Ashour
at the top of the rankings.
Here’s what Willstrop wrote:
It has been a week that those involved in squash in England will
remember for a very long time. England has a new world number one in
squash in Nick Matthew.
There are very few English sportsmen and women who are the very best, so
we have a major story on our hands.
Nick has stood at world number two behind
Ramy Ashour, who had one of his whimsical weeks in his hometown, Cairo,
when he lost to Karim Darwish comfortably in the semi-finals of the Sky
Open, since January.
Karim's victory over his fellow countryman
was a decidedly frustrating match for me personally to observe, seeing
as though 24 hours previously Ramy played as a different being, ending
any hopes I had in three games.
However, Ramy's flying off of the handle
against Karim paved the way, quite nicely, for Nick to achieve his
dream, though it was utterly tantalising.
Nick had watched Ramy's defeat as he
prepared for his match and I might suggest that it was a good thing Nick
was on immediately afterwards, so he had little time to consider the
precipice on which he stood.
After all the trials and tribulations over all the years, it came down
to one match; he had to beat Thierry Lincou on Friday night to gain
enough ranking points to hit number one; the calculations were done
after Ramy's match. He knew exactly what needed to be done.
Thierry is a player of vast, vast experience. He has been world number
one and world champion, and he is immensely tough to beat. On any other
day, and especially considering the form Nick has produced of late, he
would have been a definite favourite, but this was not just another
Nick said afterwards he finally knew what it was like to play with a
'glass arm', and declared that it was probably the toughest match of his
life. He may not have meant this in a tactical or physical respect, but
rather in terms of what was at stake for him.
It wasn't just the match he had to think about, but the threat of injury
too. One ankle roll and the dream ends. In a situation such as this it
is probably best not to think, so as not to realise the enormity of the
Nick not only completed the win against Lincou, but he also held out and
reproduced again to beat Darwish in four games on Saturday to win the
Going to bed on Friday knowing that he had achieved the ultimate but
still had another match to play must surely have been a tortuous
counter-punching of feelings for his head to deal with, but the job was
completed. England's squash fraternity has cause to celebrate.
Let's hope the rest of the country's sporting fraternity joins in, as
this sort of achievement doesn't happen every day.
Nick Matthew has finally made it to number
one in the PSA world rankings and a chorus of congratulations is echoing
round the squash community.
finally overtook Ramy Ashour after the Egyptian was knocked out in the
semi-finals of the Sky Open in Cairo by Karim Darwish, whom Matthew
overcame in the final.
29, Matthew has left it slightly late in his career to hit the top. But
that’s an irrelevance. His achievement is a phenomenal one in an era of
strong competition at the top of the rankings where any one of half a
dozen players is capable of winning major tournaments these days.
Alongside Matthew, Ashour and Darwish, Amr Shabana, James Willstrop and
Gregory Gaultier make up the Super Six.
now Matthew will be savouring this moment and reflecting on the
tremendous strides he has made in the past year since returning from a
shoulder injury that kept him off court for many months.
has added a ruthless efficiency to his high-paced, attacking game and
will be keen to extend his career, and his period at the top of the
rankings, for as long as he can.
generous to acknowledge the help and support he has received from
family, friends and a variety of support systems down the years.
more recent development has been his involvement with the English
Institute of Sport in his home city of Sheffield, where he has worked
alongside athletes from a variety of disciplines and learned how to cope
with the frustrations of dealing with a long-term injury, and absorbed
the knowledge necessary to programme his recovery.
James Willstrop, he has emerged a better player after returning from
players have returned to the competitive arena following these setbacks
as more hardened professionals, learning how to strengthen both mind and
body in the process.
Matthew, the return to top form after a back injury has given him a new
perspective on life.
said: “I’m feeling good right now and I have learnt throughout my career
that when you have a good win you can’t stay on that high for too long.
There is a gap between tournaments when you come down and at some point
you have to get yourself up for the next one. Sometimes, if events are
back to back that doesn’t happen until the middle of the next
enjoyed a long chat with Matthew ahead of the recent ISS Canary Wharf
Classic, and he is clearly chalking off a lot of ambitions this year.
His first Canary Wharf followed, beating Gaultier in fairly
straightforward fashion after his brutal two-hour semi-final battle with
a well-earned summer rest he will be aiming to get himself fired up for
the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
said: “Getting up for tournaments, I am grateful to have such a
fantastic team behind me, starting with national coach David Pearson who
has been at my side for so long. I am also indebted to Mark Campbell, my
physio, and Mark Bawden, a psychologist based at the English Institute
of Sport in Sheffield. I am now working with him on a more regular
want to thank them for giving me all the help they can. Ultimately it’s
all down to me but the EIS has been a massive part of my life. There are
athletes there from all walks of life. Jessica Ennis, the heptathlete
from Sheffield, is a leading light and a good friend.
great to be part of it all and you can’t help but learn from all the
different influences that are available. You absorb things from other
sports and it is so nice not to exist purely in a squash bubble.
are always watching other athletes in action, and watching how they
prepare for events. It is great to be part of it and to see how they
handle the different stresses that arise in all the different
disciplines, and especially those sports that attract more publicity
than we do.
“Normally squash players just exist in a squash community but being part
of this kind of sporting community leads to good habits.”
Matthew has certainly taken those habits with him on court in recent
months as he has added tournament triumphs in Qatar, Sweden, Virginia,
Canary Wharf and now the Sky Open to his tally of two British Open
victories and another national title in Manchester.
threatening cluster of so many powerful Egyptians around the top of the
rankings is a constant presence but not something Matthew chooses to
said: “This is not a conscious rivalry that we think about all the time.
You just have to take each match one at a time and try to beat whoever
you are drawn against, wherever they are from.
is a very good time for English squash. We have lot of players who are
now approaching their peak years, and they can’t be called promising
players any more. They are right at their peaks and delivering some
excellent results. This is a very prosperous time for English squash as
a whole, with tremendous strength in depth in both the men’s and women’s
would be nice to leave a legacy to the next generation coming through
and hopefully they can learn from us and carry the torch at the top
after we have gone. I don’t see that happening at the moment but there
are players around like Jon Kemp, who has yet to hit his peak, so a lot
of things can happen in the next few years to prove everyone wrong about
the next generation.
lot is made of the Egyptian thing and rightly so, but as players you
have got to do it for yourselves. So, yes, they are exciting to watch
but it’s not something we think about all the time.
simply have to beat the next guy in front of you wherever you are
playing and wherever they are from.”
Matthew admits that he has learned a lot from two experienced
campaigners, Frenchman Thierry Lincou and Australia’s David Palmer.
are still playing superb squash well into their 30s and I asked Matthew,
who is 30 in July, if he had a similar long-term plan.
said: “Me? A five-year plan? I don’t have a five-minute plan! Five hours
is about as far as I go these days!”
JONAH BACK ON COURT AS DUNLOP TEAM UP WITH ESR
Squash legend Jonah Barrington took to the court again at
Canary Wharf when England Squash and Racketball announced a five-year
sponsorship agreement with Dunlop.
Jonah played an exhibition match with his son Joey and,
thanks to some creative officiating from Tournament Referee Linda Davie
and myself, somehow squeezed home 12-10 in a tiebreak.
“That is the first tiebreak I have ever played in my
whole life,” said Jonah. “And hopefully it will be the last.”
In a deal worth in excess of £500,000, Dunlop have become
the Official Development Partner to ESR and will become the lead sponsor
of several high-profile events including the Premier Squash League, the
National Racketball Championships and the Mini Squash Programme.
Dunlop have enjoyed a long relationship with Jonah ever since they
persuaded him to give up his old Grays Light Blue for a wooden Maxply,
and he has been an ever-present Dunlop figure in a constantly changing
world as racket designs and shapes have evolved in keeping with the
technological strides being made in all areas of the game.
Jonah was the driving force behind the launch of a
professional world tour and the introduction of glass courts has allowed
the PSA and WISPA to develop the ideas he formulated some 40 years ago.
It was a treat to see Jonah in action again, with Joey
using one of his dad’s old wooden rackets and Jonah using one of Joey’s
The 68-year-old Jonah clearly enjoyed the rules of
combat, which meant that Joey had to strike all of his shots to the back
of the court and Jonah could hit the ball anywhere he liked. This
resulted in a lot of sliced drops to the front of the court which had
Joey scrambling to keep the ball in play.
Before the match, Jonah could be seen stretching and
ghosting in the Canary Wharf corridors outside the East Wintergarden,
bringing back so many visions of his phenomenal training workload down
the years which either inspired or frightened off opponents or the
generations of younger players subsequently sent to him to acquire a
Towards the end of their one-game challenge, Jonah was
clearly warming up, moving smoothly and happy to rally up and down the
At the end of the game, I couldn’t resist joking with him
that after 50 years he had finally realized that he was a touch player
after all and that if he hadn’t wasted all that energy in two-hour
battles with Geoff Hunt he could still be playing on the PSA Tour.
Jonah’s comments throughout the match clearly unnerved
referee Linda and as the tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks I was
happy to take the microphone and try to restore some semblance of order.
But up against a master wordsmith like Jonah there was only ever going
to be one winner!
Later in the evening Jonah was looking forward to
commentating with his son on the semi-finals and said: “We can never
have a conversation for more than a minute, or maybe a minute and a
half, without arguing so it will be interesting to see how things go.”
Joey countered: “This time it’s my job to try to keep him
under control for once.”
The audience at Canary Wharf enjoyed it enormously and
they were delighted to cheer Alison Waters to victory in her racketball
challenge that followed against Jonathon Kemp.
Kempy may have climbed into the world top 20 but he
clearly needs to brush up on his racketball skills!
SQUASH IS A TOP SIX SPORT AND DON’T FORGET IT
Before the exhibition, I was pleased to welcome Nick
Rider, chief executive of England Squash and Racketball, who explained
the details of the hugely encouraging tie-up with Dunlop.
Nick was keen to point out that squash is rated a top-six
sport in England, meaning that we have more active players than sports
such as tennis, rugby and hockey.
Nick said: “Squash is one of the few sports where England
has genuine world class talent with four men and three women ranked in
the top 10 in the world. We want to continue this tradition which is why
the partnership with Dunlop will help increase resources at a grass
roots level to make the sport more accessible to all.
“One of our strategic aims over the next five years is to introduce
122,000 children to squash and racketball and this partnership will help
us achieve that. The announcement of the partnership is an important
milestone for us as we have been working with Oaks Consultancy in
restructuring our sponsorship offering in order to create more value to
sponsors and revenues for the sport.”
Dunlop already sponsors elite players such as Egypt’s Amr
Shabana and England’s world No.2 Nick Matthew, who beat France’s Gregory
Gaultier in an all-Dunlop final on Friday.
How’s that for a sponsor’s dream?
Nick Matthew couldn’t resist going on court for a quick hit during the
Dunlop Radar Gun Challenge, but his top speed of 147mph (and Jon Kemp’s
148mph) was soundly beaten by Declan James from Nottingham, who struck
the ball at 158mph.
ISS CANARY WHARF CLASSIC IS A SELL-OUT SUCCESS
The ISS Canary Wharf Classic is a total
sell-out. Every seat for every session, from Monday to Friday, has been
sold in advance. I'm pretty sure this is a first for a major PSA ranking
Even in the good old days of the British
Open selling out all 3,000 tickets for the finals at Wembley Conference
Centre, there were always hundreds of empty seats during the early
Fellow promoters Peter Nicol and Tim
Garner are naturally delighted. Peter said: "It's a first for us in our
seventh year of competition and I'm pretty sure it's a first anywhere in
He added: "It's a sign of the quality of
the squash on show, the fantastic atmosphere in the magnificent East
Winteregarden venue and the culmination of seven years' hard work by the
organising team. I can't wait for the first game on Monday."
RICHARDS IN FOR KHAN
An already strong English presence in the
tournament has been increased by the inclusion of rising star Tom
Richards. The world No.33 from Guildford, Surrey, goes into the main
draw to replace Aamir Atlas Khan. The world No.20 from Pakistan withdrew
because of an injury sustained in the Malaysian Open this week.
POWER PLAY AT CANARY WHARF
Jonathon Power will be putting in an
appearance at Canary Wharf. More news on Monday - watch this space!
JOHN DALE Tribute
I first met John Dale when he travelled
down to Kent 12 years ago to play in the Maidstone Open and the European
Squash Festival in Folkestone. He won both tournaments and made a lot of
friends along the way.
John and I kept in touch and it was like a bolt from the blue when he
revealed he was suffering from a brain tumour.
John’s friends swung into action and I was pleased to help out with a
number of fund-raising activities in his honour, including a fabulous
evening at Chichester and two events in a single day in Newcastle, first
of all at the Northumberland Club in Jesmond and then at a packed-out
Tynemouth in the evening.
Peter Genever senior travelled up from the South Coast to announce that
John would be retained in their National League squad whatever his
World champion Peter Nicol willingly supported all three events along
with a number of other professionals, clearly illustrating how the
squash community rallied round to help such a popular guy on and off the
When I visited John with Steve Cubbins he had only just been allowed
home after he had contracted a life-threatening infection in hospital.
Amazingly, John recovered steadily and although he was unable to return
to the professional tournament scene he was destined to carve out a
successful career as a coach.
He was delighted to land a job in the States, but, tragically, the
cancer appeared again and John was forced to return home to Tyneside. At
least he was closer to his beloved Newcastle United.
I spoke to him on the phone a few weeks ago and he was typically upbeat
about fighting the dreaded disease all over again.
Tragically, this time the cancer was not to be beaten and we all lost a
great Geordie mate at such a young age.
God Bless You, John. We’ll all miss you.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Let’s start the new decade by wishing
a Happy New Year to all of our readers worldwide. Let’s hope 2010 brings
a non-stop wave of enjoyment on court, harmony between players and
referees, dynamic leadership from our governing bodies, and a
clear-headed vision of where the sport wants to be as we continue to
pursue the dream of squash becoming an Olympic sport.
PJ BACK ON COURT
It was great to see Paul Johnson back
in action in Kent last week. The former world No.4 turned out for
Bromley Cricket Club in the North West Kent Priory League match against
his old mate James Robbins, from Park Langley.
PJ, who is coaching in America, was
back in Bromley for the Christmas holidays. He looked very sharp as he
won the opening two games at a canter but his old county team-mate hit
back to take the match to five.
PJ then regained his earlier composure
to clinch a 9-0, 9-4, 6-9, 2-9, 9-5 victory which helped Bromley CC to
an important 3-2 win over their Park Langley hosts, who are second in
the table behind Tim Garner’s Dulwich all-stars!
EGYPT RULES THE ROOST
Not only did Egypt dominate the
British Junior Open in Sheffield once again, they extended their mastery
by winning all eight titles at under-13, under-15, under-17 and under-19
Mohamed El Shorbagy led the way with
his third under-19 Drysdale Cup success and his younger brother Marwan
clinched the under-17 championship. And Nour El Shorbini showed what an
amazing prospect she is by winning the girls’ under-19 final at the
tender age of 14.
Both finals were all Egyptian affairs,
as were three others, as the 40-strong Egyptian squad raised the bar in
junior squash yet again.
Everybody wants to know the Egyptians’ secret. The answer is simple:
numbers, with lots of great coaches and loads of kids filling the courts
after school every day.
They seem to have a system that allows
talented children to rise rapidly through the ranks and not be trapped
in the uniformity of the European age-group systems.
The Egyptians have dazzling hotbeds of
squash in Cairo and Alexandria and they are clearly able to concentrate
most of their competition in those two cities. In England, our juniors
(and their parents) are subjected to a relentless slog around the
country to collect random ranking points, with parents often choosing to
select that route before their children have mastered the basic
disciplines required in shot-making, movement and tactics.
That system, by design, will always
discriminate against the juniors who choose not to enter so many
tournaments but are more gifted than those who do.
A lot of our kids spend more time on
the motorway than they do on court, and it’s wearing them out. Some of
the time it’s not just travelling to tournaments, it’s the process of
finding another junior player to train with or play against because they
might be the only boy or girl in their club of county standard.
Clearly, we need more work at
grass-roots level to produce a dramatic rise in junior participation
levels. We need more British hotbeds like Pontefract, where juniors are
inspired by the presence of players like James Willstrop and work hard
to emulate his achievements.
All this brings me back to Paul
Johnson, and the all-conquering Kent junior team of 20 years ago. The
reason for their success? Numbers, once again.
In those days we had big clubs with
massive junior sections creating the kind of competitive atmosphere that
we see in Egypt.
Bromley Town had 16 courts, including
a superb showcourt. That’s gone, along with most of the courts. It’s now
a soulless fitness club with five courts tucked away at the back of the
Also gone are the Howdens Club in
Beckenham (10 courts), Henwood in Ashford (10), Harveys in Maidstone
(6), plus Dartford, New Eltham, Dreamland and many more.
The old Medway Squash Club has also
been taken over by a fitness chain that banned juniors from the
premises, including a child who was number one in the national under-13
All of this has resulted in a dramatic
reduction in the numbers of juniors playing squash, especially girls.
It’s so serious that any child who picks up a racket can almost walk
straight into a county squad. And I know that Kent are not alone in
It’s hard to fight against that kind
of depressing backdrop, but rest assured those of us who are left are
trying to do something about it.
In the next few weeks I look forward
to announcing a major development programme being launched in Kent
alongside a new professional tournament, the Kent Open.
We might not be able to match the
Egyptians at the moment, but to start with we’re trying to get the
Watch this space.
SAINT NIC HAS THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT
If you are wondering what Christmas
presents to buy for the avid squash fan, then Peter Nicol has the
answer: wine and dine your loved one with tickets for the 2010 ISS
Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
The seventh edition of this PSA Five-Star
world-ranking tournament takes place from March 22-26 next year and
co-promoter Nicol is urging squash enthusiasts to book tickets early to
The former world champion said: “This
year we attracted eight of the world’s top ten players and it was no
surprise that the event sold out so quickly. The fact that tickets are
so hard to come by adds premium value to every back-wall seat.
“The Canary Wharf tournament is unique in
that the East Wintergarden venue offers a wonderful gallery restaurant
with spectacular views over the court.
“We get lots of calls every year from
wives and girlfriends who surprise their partners by buying tickets that
include a fabulous meal with the best view of squash anywhere in the
world. The fact that they will be guaranteed a visit to their table by
the game’s leading stars is an added bonus.
“We are very proud of the fact that we
are able to stage the event at the East Wintergarden and over the years
it has become one of the most popular venues on the world tour for
players and spectators alike.
“This year, for the fourth year running,
we sold every back-wall seat for every night of the tournament and I can
assure you the players love the atmosphere.
“We have wonderfully loyal and supportive
Title Sponsors in ISS Facility Services and we are grateful to them for
making it possible to showcase top professional squash in such a
Tickets for the 2010 ISS Canary Wharf
Squash Classic are on sale via Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk)
and the Ticket Hotline is 0844 847 2419.
For details of dining and tickets to the
VIP Bar, please visit the tournament website:
ROLL ON RICHMOND
While on the subject, I am looking
forward to helping out at the North American Open in February to sample
my first taste of Virginian hospitality.
The event promises to be a magnificent
tournament, with nine of the world’s top ten players having confirmed
their entry into this spectacular PSA (Professional Squash Association)
Super Series Silver event with a prize fund of almost $100,000.
Tournament Director Gus Cook said: “The
North American Open is renowned as being a “fan-friendly” tournament and
we look forward to welcoming squash enthusiasts from all the squash
hotbeds here on the East Coast and from further afield.”
This year’s tournament boasts a new title
sponsor in Quantitative Investment Management, based in Charlottesville,
The event is hosted by Virginia Squash
and the action takes place on the all-glass McWil exhibition court which
will be erected in the Millhiser Gymnasium on the campus of the
University of Richmond.
The tournament runs from February 21-27
and Cook added: “We are delighted to welcome back to Richmond so many of
the world’s leading players.
“The quality of the entertainment
provided by our sport’s top athletes is absolutely sensational and we
are fortunate that the current era has so many gifted, talented players
who produce full-on attacking squash at all times.
“This is one of the premier professional
squash tournaments in a rapidly developing North American squash
“The players enjoy coming to Richmond and
spectators are treated to a week of exceptional squash in a superb
CURRENT ENTRIES INCLUDE
(with latest rankings):
1 Karim Darwish (Egypt)
2 Gregory Gaultier (France)
3 Amr Shabana (Egypt)
4 Nick Matthew (England)
5 Ramy Ashour (Egypt)
6 James Willstrop (England)
8 David Palmer (Australia)
9 Thierry Lincou (France)
10 Wael El Hindi (Egypt)
12 Adrian Grant (England)
13 Alister Walker (England)
15 Cameron Pilley (Australia)
COLLEGE BOYS KICK UP A STINK
Squash is in the unusual position of
attracting a blaze of publicity in the USA at the moment. However, like
the media feeding frenzy engulfing Tiger Woods, not all of it is
The headlines concern spectator behaviour
at a recent college game between Dartmouth and Harvard, where the home
team’s soccer squad came along to cheer on their friends in the squash
team and welcome their visitors with some ribald banter.
This, they claim, is commonplace on their
soccer road trips. However, in the more intimate confines of a squash
gallery, the jibes become more personal and hostile.
Harvard’s female players eventually sought the protection of an
assistant coach after they said they were called ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’
while they cheered on their male team-mates. Despite this, much of the
media comments focused on alleged anti-Semitic taunts aimed at Harvard
player Franklin Cohen.
The Boston Globe reported:
About 300 fans packed into the narrow
spectator gallery at Dartmouth College’s squash courts, hoping to see
their underdog team topple fifth-ranked Harvard for the first time. But
the cheering soon turned to heckling, and then a full-fledged verbal
For at least 90 minutes, about a dozen
Dartmouth students pelted Harvard’s men and women players with
obscenity-laced insults that some witnesses described as misogynistic,
homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Women on the Harvard team were called
“whores’’ and “sluts,’’ witnesses said; the men were taunted with crude
comments about their masculinity.
The Dec. 2 incident, which shattered the
genteel world of college squash, has prompted a flurry of apologies this
week from Dartmouth’s president, athletic director, and students,
including soccer players and fraternity members involved in the
The incident also has sparked
soul-searching on the secluded Hanover campus that has tried for decades
to shed its “Animal House’’ image, and presented a challenge to a new
Dartmouth president intent on fostering a climate of tolerance and
“I am extremely disappointed and upset by
this behaviour,’’ President Jim Yong Kim said in an interview yesterday.
“There is no question it was inappropriate. Players and families
shouldn’t feel threatened like that.’’
Kim said he apologized to Harvard’s
president, Drew Gilpin Faust, during a meeting of Ivy League presidents
at the Harvard Club in New York City.
The above article attracted almost 150
comments from readers.
The Boston Herald reported:
Dartmouth College administrators are
looking into allegations that student fans pelted visiting Harvard
squash players with obscenities and insults, including what one parent
of a visiting player interpreted as an anti-Semitic slur.
“One parent says her son was asked
whether he liked bagels, which she viewed as referring to their Jewish
“Dartmouth student Bryan Giudicelli says
he and his soccer team-mates were trying to create an intimidating
atmosphere similar to what they encounter on the road but didn’t realize
how hostile their behaviour would appear in the crowded squash court.
“He said the bagel comment referred to
the zero, or “bagel” on the scoreboard.”
The incidents have generated some heavy
editorial comment, including the following from the Boston Globe:
“Squash usually conjures images of
middle-aged businessmen giving their joints a workout, not of rowdy
collegiate spectators. And yet on December 2, a group of about a dozen
Dartmouth College fans rained an hour-and-a-half-long verbal assault
upon the Harvard squash team during a match in Hanover, New Hampshire,
spewing forth obscenity-laced insults that witnesses described as
misogynistic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. The ruckus led to a series
of apologies, one of which came from the Alpha Delta fraternity, which
counts among its alums the creator of ‘Animal House’.
“The hecklers could use a lesson in local
history. Dartmouth has suffered for decades from an image as the Ivy
League school most in need of putting an end to its extended
adolescence. Long after other top schools strove to become inclusive,
diverse places, Dartmouth was still seen as a campus that revered its
frattish, clubby past. The school has gone a long way toward refuting
that image, but this latest incident serves as a reminder that not
everyone has gotten the message.
“If Dartmouth’s students really want to
squash their school’s image problem, they should behave better at the
next squash match.”
Well, the nature of the incidents and the
depth of media coverage prompted a flurry of apologies from Dartmouth,
including the offending soccer players.
An agency report, published in
a variety of media outlets across the States, included a statement from
Dartmouth College. It said:
The president of Dartmouth College has
apologized to his counterpart at Harvard University over profanity-laden
taunts made by Big Green athletes to Harvard players during a squash
President Jim Yong Kim spoke to Harvard
President Drew Gilpin Faust when the two attended an Ivy League
presidents’ meeting in New York, a Dartmouth spokesman said. Kim also
has been trying to reach Harvard player Franklin Cohen and his parents,
who complained that an insult directed at their son sounded like an
A group of about 10 Dartmouth students,
including members of the school’s soccer team, heckled Crimson players
during the match.
In an e-mail sent to students, faculty
and staff Tuesday, Kim and other Dartmouth administrators expressed
disappointment at the students’ behaviour.
“While we encourage students to
vigorously support our athletes, we expect them to do so in a way that
reflects our pride in those teams, not disrespect for others,” wrote
Kim, Acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears and acting athletic
director Bob Ceplikas.
The captain of the Dartmouth soccer team
sent his own e-mail acknowledging that some team members made comments
that ‘crossed the line of what is appropriate and acceptable.’
Dan Keat said the incident made players
think more about sportsmanship and prompted them to start an initiative
to discuss and publicize ways to foster ‘a passionate but respectful
atmosphere’ at athletic events.
Good to be back in action after a short lay-off following
a family bereavement and a spell of intense pressure at work. Lots of
fascinating things are happening in the world of squash right now, and
I’m looking forward to seeing friends old and new at Saturday’s Squash
Awards Dinner at the RAC Club. Hope to see you there.
JENNY’S DOUBLE JOLT FOR NICOL
Interesting change of dynamics at the top of the women’s
game after two consecutive victories by England’s Jenny Duncalf over
world champion Nicol David.
For many professional players, the failure to beat a
player ranked above you can create a massive psychological barrier. The
longer the situation remains, the more difficult the task becomes. For
some, it is an insurmountable hurdle that prevents progress.
With two phenomenal, high-profile victories on the trot,
I imagine that Jenny will now be overflowing with confidence and ready
to take on anyone.
As for Nicol, the Malaysian superstar will walk away,
lick her wounds and plan to come back better than ever. I know she had a
slight injury in one of the tournaments but, like a true champion, she
did not use it as an excuse.
It will be fascinating to see what happens next time the
two girls play.
US OPEN: BOLD PLANS, BIG DREAMS
The US Open in Chicago next year is set to be the biggest
and best event in squash history.
Organisers are planning to erect the glass McWil court on
stage at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a futuristic theatre in Millennium
Park with 4,000 seats in the open-air.
This magnificent venue is close to the city centre, a
short stroll from Chicago’s finest hotels and restaurants, is surrounded
by some fabulous works of art and is just a short stroll from the
world-famous Art Institute of Chicago.
The 2010 US Open is being hosted by US Squash and the
City’s University Club in conjunction with the acclaimed Metro Squash
programme. Plans include both men’s and women’s tournaments, with a
total event budget understood to make this the first million-dollar
When I strolled through Millennium Park during this
year’s superbly successful US Open, I picked up a fascinating booklet
called Bold Plans, Big Dreams.
The publication celebrated the centenary of the 1909 Plan
of Chicago, otherwise known as the Burnham Plan, which was a visionary
masterpiece of city planning.
The ambitious proposals for the 2010 US Open deserve to
recognised as a parallel masterpiece of squash planning. Good luck to
Squash Design launch new USA
Good luck to all concerned in the
ambitious new Squash Design Tour which is about to start in the USA.
The USA is a major growth area for squash
and the development of new professional events is a logical extension of
an increase in court numbers across the continent, the rapid growth of
the US College circuit, and progressive health club chains like the Life
Time group recognising the value of making squash one of their prime
Now the Squash Design Pro Tour is set to
launch with a tournament in Madison, Wisconsin, from October 20-25,
followed by further events in Goshen, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Rhode
Island, Philadelphia and Boca Raton, finishing on December 13.
That’s seven events in less than two
months and represents a major breakthrough for the PSA and their ability
to provide a solid tournament structure for ambitious young members in
“We are hoping to increase awareness of
squash by bringing more events across the United States,” said Sahel
Anwar, partner in Squash Design and Premier Performance
Squash. “It is our hope to organise this tour annually – bringing
the sport to even more cities.”
In addition to players earning PSA World
Ranking points and prize money, there will be a separate points standing
for the Squash Design Tour which will allow the players to earn
additional prize money based on their points standing.
PSA Representative for the Americas, added: “The communities are excited
to see international level events being played in their home clubs. The
players, particularly the new rising stars, are happy to have a tour
support their efforts, and showcase their talent. This is obviously
good for squash.
“Having the events linked together on a
timeline, and not being too far apart in location, should make it much
easier financially for the players travelling from further away. The new
tour could grow to include a number of additional new smaller size
events in 2010 that will provide great opportunities for the
up-and-coming US players along with many others too.”
Leading US touring pro Gilly Lane
also added his enthusiasm for the new initiative, saying: “I am very
excited for the upcoming Squash Design Tour. This series of events is
great not only for the players but for the growth of squash in the US.
“With new tournaments in Wisconsin and
Pittsburgh, Squash is expanding to areas all across the country. These
tournaments will draw some of the world’s best players and provide a
great showcase for our sport in America. I am looking forward to
competing in these events and hope that it is a stepping stone for
future US tours.”
SQUASH DESIGN TOUR: TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Open Madison, WI Oct
Goshen, IN Oct
Open Pittsburgh, PA Nov
Cup Baltimore, MD
Open Newport, RI Nov 18–22
Open Philadelphia, PA
Betty Griffin Memorial
Florida State Open Boca Raton, FL Dec 08–13
One league, three systems
One league and three scoring systems.
Sounds confusing, but that’s the situation in Vancouver as the new
The Vancouver Squash League
will be feature PAR11 for Division One male players, PAR15 for Division
One females, and traditional hand-in, hand-out to nine for all other
competitors from Divisions Two to Eight.
We look forward to receiving
some feedback from the VSL, who have posted the following notice on
their website: “The above scoring systems will be in effect throughout
the season and can only be discussed, changed or debated at the next
AGM. We hope that you attend the next AGM to voice your opinion and vote
on the direction that the league takes in future seasons.”
dazzle in Jersey
THE world’s No 1 squash player, Egypt’s Karim Darwish, is primed to come
to Jersey. According to squash development officer Nick Taylor he has
already spoken to Darwish, who is supported by Head, a sports equipment
company which also sponsors racquet ball and junior squash development
in the Island.
Taylor said: “Head have a certain number of spots when Karim is expected
to work for them and they’re happy to free up one of them for him to
come to the Island. Our idea is to bring him, plus another three top
professionals over to Jersey when the new squash courts have been built.
“The plans have been drawn up and we hope planning permission will be
given by the start of the New Year. So, all being well, in a year’s time
he’ll be over here. I’ve spoken to him already and he says he’s more
than pleased to come across.”
Play squash on your phone
You can now play squash on your
iPhone. News has filtered in from the launch of the first and only
squash 3D sports game, titled Touch
Squash: World Championship 09, exclusively
for iPhone and iPod touch. The game is available worldwide on the Apple
iTunes App Store.
Rohit Gupta, founder of Rolocule Studios
and developer of Touch Squash, says: “Squash is facing a few challenges
when it comes to entertaining non-squash players. Enjoying squash
through the medium of interactive entertainment like video games is
perfect, especially, when you can't go to play real squash, or when you
are new to Squash and want to know about the sport.”
Their media release goes on: “Touch Squash puts the player in
third-person perspective to play squash with artificially intelligent
opponents of varying difficulties, both for the beginners and the expert
squash players. It uses PARS scoring adopted by World Squash Federation
(WSF) as the main scoring method, and provides the players with a
variety of squash courts to choose from. The players can also
participate in the squash world championship in the game featuring 24
countries, across all continents, in 4 tournaments.”
The statement adds: “Rolocule recently released Touch Squash v2.0
featuring AGON Online, a social platform for iPhone games. The players
will be now able to compete worldwide, win awards at different stages in
the game and publish their stories on popular social networking sites
like Facebook and Twitter.”
Available on the App Store, Touch Squash costs $0.99 and requires the
iPhone 2.2.1 software update or later.
How squash star Maria
A fascinating story reached
the ToT desk recently from Pakistan concerning Maria Toor Pakay, a young
lady who, with the support and sacrifice of her family, has overcome
phenomenal restrictions to become a national number one.
The article is by Reza Sayah
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (CNN) -- As a little girl, Maria Toor Pakay would
beat up boys.
Now, she dispenses of anyone who takes her on within the walls of a
Pakay, 18, is Pakistan's No. 1-ranked women's squash player. But what
makes her story remarkable is that she hails from the country's tribal
region of South Waziristan.
The region, along the border with Afghanistan,
is home to the Taliban. There, suicide
attacks are a way of life. And the militants, bent on imposing a strict
form of Islamic law, punish girls who attend school -- let alone play
"They have no future," Pakay said. "They spend their entire lives in
four walls in their home. Their ability is destroyed."
But Pakay wasn't like most girls growing up. She sported a buzz cut and
mixed with the boys.
"If someone argued with me, I used to beat
them up," she said. "I wanted them to obey me all the time."
Her father, Shams-ul-Qayum Wazir, knew early on that his daughter was
"I didn't want her talent to go to waste," he said. "If I would've kept
her in the village, all she could do was housekeeping."
So, Wazir packed up the family and moved to
Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province.
Here, Pakay picked up the racket and swatted down the competition with
ease -- first winning the Under-13 championship, then the Under-15, then
In squash, players take turns hitting a ball to the front wall of a
court, until one misses.
Pakay, it turned out, rarely did.
"I thought nobody could beat me," she said. "From the beginning when I
played squash, I thought I could be a world champion."
Today, despite the lack of a sponsor and few resources, Pakay has gone
pro -- and is ranked 91st in the world.
Her father's sacrifice, she said, made her success possible.
"I think I have a great father -- so broad-minded," she said.
For his part, Wazir -- a teacher -- was more circumspect.
"I sacrificed because I want to promote a message of peace," he said.
"If the tribal people pick up a racket instead of a gun, there would be
click image for larger view
week’s column is dedicated to kindness and giving, two essential
ingredients that help the world go round with a smile. From Chicago to
India and Namibia, it’s great to see individuals in squash setting such
a fantastic example, starting at the top with world champion Ramy Ashour.
Ramy Ashour may have lost the final of
the Aon US Open in Chicago to compatriot Amr Shabana, but he certainly
won plenty of friends with his sportsmanship and transparent love of the
During the fifth game of his final battle
with Shabana, Ashour was clawing back the points as his more experienced
opponent seemed like he was powering to the title.
After one explosive rally, Ashour played
a ball into the front left corner that the three officials saw good only
for Shabana to complain furiously that the ball was down.
After much heated debate between Shabana
and the referees, Ashour completely diffused the situation by calling
his own shot down. It was an extraordinary act of sportsmanship because
that put Shabana on match ball.
Although Ashour claimed one more point,
Shabana duly finished off the job to secure his first US Open title.
That act of sportsmanship was not the
only moment of generosity shown by the 21-year-old Ashour during his
week in Chicago.
Following a sponsors’ reception a few
miles away from the city centre, Ramy was being given a lift back to the
tournament hotel by event official Jill Domke, with the PSA’s US
official Gus Cook also on board.
Suddenly the car struck a large pothole
and a tyre blew out. I’ll let Gus take up the story from here: “As it
was around midnight, Jill wanted me to take Ramy back in a cab and not
hang about, but Ramy was having none of it and so we changed the tyre
“It took a while because we did not have
any tools until a friendly neighbourhood cop stopped to see what was
happening and lent us what we needed.
“All told it took over 30 minutes and we were both filthy by the end. It
just goes to show what kind of guy he is, though, and I hope he stays
I can’t think of many world champions
from other sports who would behave in such a humble and helpful manner,
and long may it continue in our wonderful game. We may have lost the
Olympic bid, but we can continue to set a shining example to other
sports that do not enjoy the same levels of honesty and sportsmanship.
India: Noted coach Baj trains poor
CHANDIGARH - Satinder Bajwa, an expatriate Punjabi, who is a squash
coach, has set up an academy for the underprivileged children in
Chandigarh to draw them to squash.
These underprivileged children never thought about playing squash. But,
at the newly founded Squash Academy called ‘Mind, Body and Game
Connection’, they learn how to play it.
Satinder Bajwa, who has been the manager and mentor of eight-times world
squash champion Jansher Khan, has commenced this social business venture
to promote the game here.
The Academy will nurture 30 children of ‘Khelshala’, a charitable trust,
which serves underprivileged children through sports.
“Everybody wants to help his or her origins or the country that needs
help. I am not a wealthy guy but I have something to give to kids in
terms of a sport, so I thought how I give back to my country and I do a
non-profit programme in the USA called Kids Squash and I thought may be
its needed here in India and may be we can help kids through giving them
something that they can use to help themselves,” said Satinder Bajwa,
Founder of the MBG Connection Academy in Chandigarh.
“You can give somebody money, but money runs out. But if you give them
something like this, maybe if they are good at it, they can become very
good. If they are good students, maybe I can help to get them into some
international university and few a years down the roads, we might see
some results which may enable people to help themselves,” said Bajwa.
He says the objective of the Squash Academy is to highlight that through
exercise and play one can achieve a healthy body and mind for a fuller
The Academy will offer members a comprehensive set of world-class
facilities including top of the line gym equipment and two squash
courts. Bajwa, who immigrated to the USA, is presently the chief squash
coach at Harvard University. He felt the need to give back to his
homeland something valuable.
Many people in Punjab believe that squash is a sport that has a future.
“The game is very nice. There is no age limit to play this game. It’s
very enjoyable and there are no chances of injuries,” said Manjit Singh,
“We were little apprehensive in the first couple of days how may kids
would be interested but we have had an amazing turnout and its been
tones and tones of response from the kids and everyday more and more
kids want to come and play and its wonderful to see excitement and
eagerness of all the kids in the village to come and play,” said
Elizabeth Chaplin, a trainer from Massachusetts, US.
The MBG Connection and Khelshala are a lifetime dream of Bajwa, who also
funded Kids Squash, a US-based non-profit organization that promotes
well-being through sports for children of all backgrounds.
Khelshala will also have an educational component as well as it will aim
to leverage sports to help kids attain scholarships to private schools.
Namibia: Reta Relishes Namibian
By Chris Buckland
Former women’s world number 29, Canadian
Runa Reta, has moved to Windhoek and swapped her professional squash
player’s lifestyle for a six-month placement with Unicef in Namibia.
She will take up a six-month post in the education and sports
department, where she will work on a variety of Unicef and Namibian
League (NPL) football initiatives helping to develop the women’s game in
However, the 28-year-old hasn’t left her passion for squash in Canada,
she is keen to play and become involved in the grassroots squash
programme established by the Namibian Squash Association.
National coach Tyc Kakehongo is delighted to point out that Reta’s
in Namibia is a major bonus. He said: “She has made it clear that she
wants to get involved in all aspects of the game. I’m sure Namibian
squash will benefit greatly from her being here.”
Reta brings a wealth of experience to Namibian squash. Not only is she
current reigning Canadian Open champion, but she has also represented
at junior and senior World Championships, as well as at the Pan-American
Games where she won a team gold, and at the Commonwealth Games, where
finished ninth in the women’s event.
Having had a world ranking since 2001 and made the move to full-time
professional and then back to part-time professional, Reta is keen to
use her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and recently
completed Masters in Political Science from McGill University to good
effect during her time in Namibia.
She said: “I played as a pro for four years and travelled the world and
it, but there comes a time when you start to not enjoy what you do and
question it instead. There is more to life than squash and I wanted to
do something more and I’m looking forward to the Unicef challenge.”
With the current Namibian number one woman player, Isabelle Schnoor,
recovering from a broken foot, Reta’s arrival in Windhoek is a timely
for the game in general at all levels and Namibian squash will
improve with her input.
NICK’S NASTY KNOCK
Nick Matthew had a rude awakening just a few hours after
beating James Willstrop to win his second British Open title, a knock on
his hotel room door by a team of drug testers!
Nick’s posting on his Facebook page said: “Can you
believe it – doping control knocked on my door for a random test at
6a.m. this morning?”
Many Facebook friends expressed surprise that he was
actually back in his hotel room so early after celebrating his triumph
in Manchester after a marathon, late-night two-hour final battle that
was decided on a fifth-game tiebreak.
Shame he couldn’t celebrate at the National Centre. Many
readers have written to complain that they went for a drink during the
Legends match between Ross Norman and Gawain Briars and were very upset
that organisers shut the bar in order to hurry them back to their seats!
Power named to Canadian
He just can’t keep away! Jonathon Power will lead the Canadian
contingent into the men’s World Team Championships later this month in
The former world No. 1, who will compete in his 10th world team event,
is one of four players named to the Canadian foursome that will compete
in the event from September 27 to October 3.
Canada’s men’s national head coach Yvon Provencal said: “Jonathon can
definitely make a difference for us at the world championships. He has a
of experience and still has the ability to beat anybody in the world.”
Also named to the team are Toronto’s Shahier Razik, who is No. 29 in the
world, Shawn DeLierre of Brossard, Quebec, and David Phillips of
Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Ottawa’s Robin Clarke was selected as a
The Montreal-based Power, now 35, helped Canada to sixth place at the
2007 team worlds and fourth at the 2005 event.
He retired from the professional circuit in 2006, but he still plays in
the national championships and represents Canada at major international
He had 32 PSA tour wins and the 1998 world title to his credit. He also
won the gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, beating
his great rival Peter Nicol in an epic final.
Provencal added: “He does a really great job helping out the other
players. He knows our players and he know the international field. He is
a wealth of information for us at that level.”
Razik will be competing in his sixth world team championship, while
DeLierre, who is ranked No. 60 on the planet, returns from the 2007
world team. Phillips, who is ranked 68th internationally, will be making
his Worlds debut.
Willstrop slams IOC vote
James Willstrop was described as an “ex-squash ace” in
the headline that accompanied a story on Yahoo’s sports service
revealing his feelings about squash’s failure to gain one of the
nominations to go forward for a place in the 2016 Olympics.
The confusion for the headline writer must have been
the description of him as “a former world No.2” in the article, which
was headlined: Ex-squash ace slams IOC vote.
The article originated on the Eurosport website and
was picked up the same day by Yahoo. Here it is in full:
Former squash world number two James Willstrop has
accused the IOC's executive board of abandoning the values of the
Olympic Games after golf and rugby sevens were recommended for inclusion
Squash came agonisingly close to getting the nod for 2012 in July 2005
but, along with karate, failed to achieve the required 50 per cent of
And the sport suffered a similar fate in August after rugby sevens was
given a unanimous vote of confidence as the board whittled the original
list of seven - rugby sevens, golf, squash, baseball, softball, karate
and roller sports - down to two.
But it took a further four ballots of second preference voting for golf
to achieve the nine votes needed for recommendation - with the full vote
for inclusion taking place at next month's 121st IOC session in
And Willstrop has slammed the decision as short-sighted, with squash now
ruled out until at least 2020.
Willstrop said: “It was a very disappointing decision and don't ask me
why they made it. There are no words to explain it. Don’t ask me why
they’ve put golf in.
“It’s a decision that has surprised everyone. No-one can believe it -
not just squash players but everyone. But if you’ve got Tiger Woods and
Padraig Harrington behind the (golf) bid then we’ve got no chance as a
minority racket sport.
“It has to come down to the money and that's a sad state of affairs and
goes against what the Olympics is all about.
“You can watch football and golf all the time. No-one cares about them
in the Olympics - and there's no way that’s the pinnacle of their sport.
“Tiger Woods would not care about a gold medal. He’s going to be more
concerned about the US PGA or The Open, but we’d give our left arm for
“Golf has just come out of nowhere and got the vote straight away. We’ve
been making our case for years and karate probably have as much reason
to complain as we do.
“A gold medal would be the highlight of any squash player’s career and
it’s so tantalising for us because it would give the sport a much higher
stars in vegetarian advert
James Willstrop also featured heavily in publicity
last week concerning his support for an advertising campaign aimed at
encouraging people to become vegetarians. One article from the Yorkshire
community website included comments from Willstrop claiming that
switching to a vegetarian diet had actually improved his health and
fitness, and with it his performances on court.
A top squash player from Leeds is the star of a new advert encouraging
people to go vegetarian.
James Willstrop, who is ranked number nine in the world, unveiled the
new Peta ad in Manchester to coincide with the British Open Squash
In the ad, James holds his racket and prepares to volley an orange next
to the tagline Squash Obesity - Go Vegetarian.
James, who lives in Leeds, said: “I first heard about Peta through
Morrissey actually. I’m very keen to support animals and I liked what
Peta were doing, so I got in touch because I wanted to make it known
that meat is totally unnecessary, and detrimental, to a world-class
“People laugh at me when I tell them, and I can’t for one minute believe
that so many people find it perfectly natural to mercilessly slaughter
animals and devour them for their own gratification.
“I did it once, but having seen the atrocity that is the battery farm, I
want to convey to people to stop and actually think that they are eating
dead, slaughtered flesh that has been battered around, tortured and
plied with nasty chemicals.”
James said that since that becoming vegetarian has also improved his
performance on court.
He added: “It’s made a great difference. I am lighter and can feel it,
I’m faster and more alert, and I have won major world events with such a
diet. No one can tell me we need to eat meat to function as athletes.”
A spokesperson for Peta said: “James is one of an ever-growing number of
athletes who choose vegetarian meals to boost their health and avoid
supporting cruelty to animals.
“James sets a great example for his fans by demonstrating the power of a
healthy diet - a diet that keeps him fit, doesn’t hurt the environment
and combats factory-farming cruelty.
“Athletes and non-athletes alike can join James by giving vegetarian
foods a sporting chance to make their bodies and souls feel good. They
can begin by ordering Peta's free Vegetarian Starter Kit today from the
James joins a growing list of celebrities, including Sir Paul McCartney,
Alicia Silverstone, Bryan Adams and Sadie Frost, who have joined with
Peta’s pro-vegetarian campaign.
The print advert will appear on Peta’s website and the charity also said
it hopes to pitch it to sports magazines and other publications.
Peta is a charity dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of
all animals through public education, research, legislation, special
events, celebrity involvement and protest campaigns.
For more information visit
Squash club closed following noise complaints
A SQUASH Club which has been serving south Northants for 85 years has
been closed following complaints over noise.
The Cornhill Squash Club near Pattishall was handed a
noise abatement notice by South Northants Council forcing it to close.
The notice was given following complaints from the family
who moved into a converted barn next door last year.
The back wall of the squash court is shared with the
barn, dividing the court from a kitchen and a bedroom.
Cynthia and Toby Till moved into the barn with their two
young children around 16 months ago.
Mr Till said: “My family has significant health and
stress issues as a result of noise coming into the house. Whenever my
wife or I put our children to bed it was to the sound of squash balls
hitting a wall.”
Mr Till said the abatement notice was made to protect his
family’s health but added: “I’m really hopeful that with some creativity
and a little flexibility, I think we can come up with a solution that
will works for everyone.”
Jamie Hayes, chairman of the club said: “I have visited
the Till family half a dozen times to try to work out a solution.
“But the bottom line is we don’t feel we should have to
pay any money and the family feel the same way.”
Mrs Hayes said the club was valuable community asset
serving around 50 members from Bugbrooke to Towcester.
Club committee member Martin Lamb was introduced to the
squash club 25 years ago by his father, who had also been a member for
the previous 20 years.
Mr Lamb said they were seeking legal advice for an appeal against the
abatement notice. He added: “Essentially the environment health
department of SNC approved the planning permission and now they are
effectively making a decision that has goes against that approval.”
Jean Morgan, chief executive of SNC said she sympathised with both
parties and will continue to help them find a solution but added: “The
law is very specific in this area and says that where a statutory
nuisance has been found to exist, the council is legally obliged to
serve a noise abatement notice.”
SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR SQUASH STARS IN CHICAGO
Egyptian superstars Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana swapped the glass court
for the glass observation decks in the Willis Tower in Chicago today as
the US Open marketing machine moved into overdrive.
Ramy and Amr posed for pictures and were even allowed to play a quick
rally against the walls of the breathtaking glass boxes on the 103rd
floor of the building formerly known as the Sears Tower.
The view from the Skydeck Ledge was absolutely breathtaking and not a
little scary when you looked down to ground level 1,353 feet beneath
The Ledge's glass boxes extend several feet out from the side of the
building and the players, accompanied by a film crew, were afforded VIP
treatment by the Willis Tower management company who kindly arranged for
them to take the fast-track elevator and avoid the queues building up
for the city's premier tourist attraction.
Ramy and Amr were eager to play their part in helping the tournament to
develop and enjoyed the whole experience, although they were not too
impressed when I told them we had to take the stairs on the way back
CHICAGO IS SUCH A GLASS ACT
To say that Chicago is proving a popular location for the Aon US Open
would be a staggering understatement.
The event has been playing to sell-out crowds around the glass court set
up in Pioneer Court, just off Michigan Avenue, which is known as the
And magnificent is a tribute heard often at courtside as spectators
familiar with the sport and those watching it for the first time gasp in
admiration at the speed, skill and athleticism of the world's leading
Photographs of the glass court in front of the architectural splenndour
of the Chicago skyline provide iconic images of squash's location-driven
potential as a money-spinning spectator sport.
Squash enthusiasts unable to secure a seat around the courtside have
been able to take advantage of the free view through the front wall.
Several hundred passers-by stopped to watch the quarter-finals and
organisers were considering the option of installing more seats for the
semi-finals and final this weekend.
Following the disappointment of the IOC vote that banished squash into
the Olympic wilderness for a further four years, this Chicago success
story has given the sport a timely boost.
The players have underscored their entertainment value, which has to be
their greatest priority and a path which leads to commercial rewards,
and reinforced the view that no further tampering with the rules is
The package they can deliver is a high-quality product that has
attracted significant sponsorship interest from Windy City corporations
for this year and future editions of the tournament.
The success of last year's Sweet Home Chicago Open, played at the same
open-air location, resulted in the the organisers securing the rights to
the US Open.
The local media are gradually taking an interest, with TV, radio and
newspaper coverage gradually taking shape and adding further value to
the efforts of US Squash, the sponsors and Imran Nasir's brilliant team
SNUB WAS A FOREGONE CONCLUSION
Sadly, news emerges that the IOC vote to
nominate golf and rugby sevens for the 2016 Olympic Games was decided
before squash even made its final presentation to the IOC.
WSF Olympic Bid Co-Ordinator Dr George
Mieras, writing in his official report on the WSF website, admits that a
well-informed insider had let slip that golf and rugby sevens had been
agreed on as far back as June.
IOC chief Jacques Rogge subsequently
claimed that the sports had been selected in Berlin because “they would
bring extra value to the Games.”
Those remarks were discussed in my last
column, but one glance at the nations represented by the 15-man IOC
Executive Committee responsible for the nominations may also give a clue
as to the likely outcome of any voting procedure, whether genuine or
As well as the Belgian Dr Rogge, the
other officials came from Greece, Japan, Germany, China, Singapore,
Italy, South Africa, Norway, Switzerland, Mexico, Namibia, Morocco and
Now, squash hardly makes a ripple in any
of those countries, and in some, the squash communities, small to start
with, are showing signs of decline.
So it hardly needs an Einstein to work
out that our sport was never going to make much of an impact on such a
collection of individuals, no matter how professional the presentation.
As I mentioned in my last column, we
need to find ways to expand our global base in terms of participation
numbers, and completely rethink the way the professional game is
marketed. Hopefully both ends will meet somewhere in the middle as we
seek to raise the profile of squash.
By becoming stronger at all levels, we
can dream of becoming a sport that can stand on its own two feet,
attract major sponsors, deliver value to those companies by creating
fantastic tournaments that generate extensive media coverage and attract
newcomers to the game. And not worry overmuch about the Olympics until
we can show that squash can provide the kind of commercial value
obviously required by the IOC.
BECKONS FOR US OPEN
I’m currently packing my bags for the
Aon US Open and looking forward to my first trip to Chicago. The draw
looks phenomenal, with Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana the top two seeds,
followed by David Palmer, Peter Barker, Adrian Grant, Wael El Hindi,
James Willstrop, Olli Tuominen, Hisham Ashour, Shahier Razik, Saurav
Ghosal and US wild card Gilly Lane.
This PSA Five Star tournament takes
place in the open-air, with the glass court in a fantastic city centre
location, so let’s hope for some balmy evenings that will help to
attract sizeable crowds.
The organisers have worked phenomenally
hard, in conjunction with US Squash, to get everything ready in time and
they deserve a successful week.
I look forward to filing daily reports
from the Windy City.
TWO SCORING SYSTEMS ARE NEEDED, AND A NEW
Former Lambs Club member Sean Hayden,
who plays league squash in both Surrey and Middlesex, writes with some
interesting points about the choice of scoring systems, plus his views
on the double yellow dot ball.
I just wanted to make a few points about
the scoring system that has now forced its way into both the Surrey Cup
and, from next season, the Middlesex League.
I personally think that squash is a
poorer game for it and I completely agree with you that there is no harm
and more benefits in having two scoring systems in place.
My biggest argument is this: The PAR
scoring system was brought in primarily for the spectators at PSA
tournaments. I don’t know about other leagues, but in both the Surrey
and Middlesex First Division leagues in which I play the only spectators
we get are your team-mates, who are anxious for you to hurry up and
finish, and possibly one of the opposition’s bored girlfriends who has
been dragged out of the house against her free will.
Another example to show how following
the pros has led to a deterioration in the game is the ball. The double
yellow dot was introduced for the professionals and the upper levels of
These days, even during the midst of
winter, you see the ‘beginners’ in the eighth team, where the average
rally is TWO shots, STILL playing with a double yellow dot. It’s
Anyway that's my 2p worth. I must say I
do hope this scoring system continues to be debated and is reviewed
nationally in a year’s time.
Squash addict racks up 2,000 games in one year
Here’s an amazing story, from the Calgary Herald, about a Canadian
squash addict who took his love for the game to extraordinary lengths.
Steve Watson never started the quest
in hopes of fame, glory, or even bragging rights.
His journey to play 2,000 squash games in 365 days began when he picked
up a racket just over a year ago, and has continued simply because he
hasn’t been able to put it down.
“I didn’t pick 2,000 as a number, I just wanted to play as much as
possible so it seemed like a nice round number,” said the 43-year-old
Calgarian. “My winning percentage has gotten a little better as I go on
because I play more than anyone else, which definitely helps.”
Three years ago, Watson joined a local challenge league as a racquetball
player but switched over to squash over a year ago, just for fun. But
earlier this month, he took his game to another level and managed to hit
the 2,000-mark in a 365-day period, which came with an 11-3 thrashing of
fellow player Graham Mellof on July 14.
From Monday to Friday during regular working hours, he's a construction
surveyor. Yet Watson manages to fit in games four times a week split
between Mount Royal College, Oakridge Community Centre and Southland
Leisure Centre. On average, Watson will play about two hours per night
which usually means between 10 and 15 games a day.
“It adds up pretty quick,” he said with a chuckle. “There's no real
limit on it. Before you know it, you’ve played 2,000 games in a year.
“But I don’t think I could do 4,000 (games). I played 300 games in a
month one time and that was too many. Basically, the goal for now is to
keep it over 2,000.”
It’s quite a feat considering Watson is a recreational player. The
league’s previous high was set by Brent Johner, who played 1,200 games
in a 365-day period.
Currently, Watson’s record stands at 1,331 wins and 697 losses. And he’s
still going strong.
IOC decision, My Comments
that squash was not selected as one of two sports to go forward to the
big IOC vote in October was disappointing enough. To learn that the
sport failed to register a single vote at the IOC meeting in Berlin
yesterday was devastating.
consider that position.
No votes at
all. Zero. Nil points. Nothing. A total blank.
where we are, folks. Not even on the radar when it came to the big IOC
terms, it was like the ultimate humiliation of a triple-bagel scoreline.
and rugby sevens got the nod, ahead of squash and four other sports, IOC
President Jacques Rogge said: “In the end, the decision came down to
which two sports would add the most value.”
protocol shorthand for “these two sports will make the most money for
us”. I have written many times in the past about this subject and
perhaps Mr Rogge’s admission proves that the IOC places higher value on
commercial success than sporting integrity.
always led to believe that the ideals and moral values of the Olympic
Games meant that we were watching the purest form of sport in the world.
However, by adopting a “variety” of a major sport, as in the case of
rugby sevens, it is like having the synchronised swimming and diving but
without any actual swimming events.
Lots of raw
emotions came tumbling out from squash lovers yesterday as the IOC
decision was announced. There were bitter criticisms of the IOC on
Facebook and various squash forums, plus one or two minor snipes at the
squash governing bodies, but let’s examine Mr Rogge’s statement in
In terms of
the IOC’s commercial activities, large American corporations who sponsor
the Games, and the TV networks that pay large sums for the broadcasting
rights, must surely have some kind of input into the decision-making
process. We would be rather naïve to expect otherwise.
broadcasters know they can sell prime-time advertising slots for
commercials during the golf and rugby sevens competitions, but squash
does not enjoy the same kind of profile.
surprising.I hope I don’t get lynched at the US Open in Chicago for
saying this, but ask any American about squash and 99 per cent of them
will tell you it’s a vegetable. Most of the other one per cent think
it’s a kind of racketball.
don’t believe me, set up a Google Alert to have any article about squash
sent to your email inbox. You will soon be inundated with all kinds of
recipes about what to do with left-over squash.
terms of product recognition, we are not performing terribly well in the
world’s major economy.
despite a vibrant governing body, a booming College League and a growing
number of professional tournaments in the USA, which is rapidly becoming
a major magnet for many of the world’s leading coaches.
considered, perhaps it’s not too surprising that an excellent
presentation by the WSF for a sport that ticks all of the necessary
Olympic boxes failed to make any headway.
do we go from here? Our priorities as a sport must be to raise the
profile of squash at all levels, increase participation levels, fight
court closures and deliver high-quality TV coverage on a regular basis
throughout the world.
preparing a dossier for the WSF with a selection of ideas as to how we
can achieve this and look forward to reporting back in due course.
I do know
that one brave individual is attempting to mount a legal challenge aimed
at proving that the IOC’s voting procedure in Singapore four years ago,
when squash and karate were voted in at the first stage and then removed
by a subsequent second round of voting, was illegal.
next week we will know if squash has made it on to the Olympic
shortlist. The IOC meet in Berlin next week and two sports will be
nominated to go forward to the crucial vote in Copenhagen in October.
been lobbying alongside baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby
sevens and softball for a place in the 2016 Games.
narrowly missed out on a place in London 2012, the World Squash
Federation sport launched a highly credible and professional bid, led by
president N Ramachandran of India.
professional bid manager was brought in to supervise the process and
Scott Garrett is to be congratulated on delivering a first-class job.
focused on the sport’s international appeal, the absolute commitment of
the world’s leading stars to participate, and the low cost of adding
squash to the Olympic rota.
Many of the
rival sports may have enjoyed bigger marketing budgets, but squash’s
presentation certainly made an impact, with Squash 2016 Day helping to
raise awareness of the bid all over the globe.
certainly deserve to be there and here’s hoping the vote goes our way.
SYSTEMS STILL ON THE AGENDA
we are forced to revisit the question of scoring systems in squash.
Various governing bodies are campaigning for a unified scoring system
across the board, and a considerable coating of spin is being applied to
some of the lobbying processes.
The PSA has
led the way with PAR 11 and the system appears to have bedded in
successfully. Many seasoned pros, whose games were based on their
ability to withstand the excessive physical demands of the sport, feared
that an advantage was being taken away from them when the scoring system
was reduced from 15 to 11, and that shorter matches might favour the
shot-makers. However, match times have crushed that argument and the
game appears just as physically demanding as it was before.
followed suit, and at the very top level there are no complaints.
However, I have yet to be fully convinced that some of the early round
matches in certain events provide full value for money.
The move to
impose PAR11 across the board at club and junior level is a matter of
listened to all the arguments I believe that there is a very solid case
for continuing with two scoring systems for one very simple reason: the
majority of club players want it that way.
Kent we have two very solid lobbies, with many (not all) of the top
players demanding PAR11 and lower league players absolutely rejecting
Why not let
both camps have their own way? Why not arrange for PAR11 in the top
divisions of all county leagues and allow lower league players to
continue with their favoured method of traditional scoring?
that upset anyone?
As is the
case with too many things in squash, we are in danger of pandering to
the elite players and ignoring the wishes of the majority of club
contributed my thoughts to England Squash on the matter of junior
squash, and the unacceptable number of ridiculously short matches,
especially in the girls’ game. What is this nonsense of expecting
11-year-old beginners, who can hardly hold a racket, to play the same
game as the world’s leading professionals? Where did that come from? Is
anybody doing anything about it?
thoughts, please, to the usual address.
Contact Alan with your
views or opinions
Willstrop pleased with
World Games return
great to see James Willstrop back in action after his recent operation.
To reach the final of the World Games was a superb achievement and,
although he lost in straight games to fellow Englishman Nick Matthew, he
will be pleased to have got a run of matches under his belt again as he
prepares for the new season.
David maintained her supremacy in the women's game, beating Natalie
Grinham, now playing for The Netherlands, in the final.
US Open and British Open arriving back to back at the start of
September, players are keen to cement some early-season form and
Willstrop was seeded four in this week's Malaysian Open behind Amr
Shabana, Matthew and Wael El Hindi.
Willstrop's injury woes caused him to drop out of the world top ten and
it will be fascinating to see what plans he has hatched to follow
Matthew's example earlier this year of a rapid return up the rankings
after a long lay-off.
African Open Cancelled
Promoters of the African Open, which was due to take place in Lagos from
August, have advised the Professional Squash Association that the event
has been cancelled due to sponsorship problems. The 5-star event had
attracted a strong field, led by Egypt's world number one Karim Darwish.
Squash can stave off cancer
Strenuous exercise for just half an hour a day can halve the chance of
dying from cancer, according to the Daily Express earlier this week.
Correspondent Jo Weilley wrote: People who take part in physically
demanding sports like jogging, swimming, rowing, squash or football can
reduce the risk of developing the killer disease.
would take a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day to
gain any benefit.
National Health Service recommends a minimum of 30 minutes exercise five
times a week.
Junior stars make headlines
news items have cropped up on the internet this week in a busy week for
squash, many of them featuring competitors appearing in the World Junior
the Indian websites concentrate on top seed Dipika Pallikal and if you
type her name into Google you will see more than 20 articles previewing
the biggest squash interviews I have seen in a long while, plucked from
the Wilton Villager website, features American Olivia Blatchford.
interview, conducted, by Sports Editor John Nash, begins like this:
seventh ranked junior squash player in the entire world, Olivia
Blatchford dreams big.
not just yearn for more victories on her resume or for more trophies to
fill the empty spaces inside her family's Wilton home.
she dreams even bigger than that, imagining a future that is better for
her friends, her teammates, and her sport.
Thursday afternoon, the 16-year-old Blatchford, the eldest daughter of
Peter and Elizabeth Blatchford, left for the faraway land of Chennai,
India, where she will take part in the 2009 World Junior Squash
Championships. But, she'll tell you before she takes flight, this isn't
just about her.
about the future.As she speeds through life at 100 miles per hour,
bubbly and effervescent, she relishes her todays as she works toward her
World Juniors appearance. Yet she also longs for a tomorrow that could
very well leave her as the second Wilton resident, following soccer's
Kristine Lilly, to take part in the Olympic Games, if not becoming the
world's best squash player somewhere down the road.
Organizers of the Olympics could be adding two sports to its roster in
2016 and squash is one of the serious candidates. A decision is expected
by August or September.
honor it would be to play in the Olympics," Blatchford said, "to be able
to represent your country in the biggest and most honorable event ever.
It'd be stellar, it'd be magnificent, it'd be awesome."
Blatchford, the No. 1 ranked Under-19 player in the country, is already
an ambassador for her sport as well as one of its best players.
are 127 countries that play squash. You'd be surprised,"
Blatchford tells a reporter who knows literally very little about the
game. "I really hope and pray we get in (to the Olympics). It's such a
deserving sport. It's physical chess. You're trying to anticipate
somebody's moves and you're trying to get them to do something all while
running. It's such a deserving sport."
Blatchford, it seems, is as deserving of becoming an Olympian as anyone
who has worn the red, white and blue before her.
interview can be found here:
next big thing in Indian squash is here
major interview, published on the dnaindia website, features Indian
youngster Mahesh Mangaonkar, who admits to travelling to Egypt for
coaching to improve his game.
Fifteen-year-old Mahesh Mangaonkar believes in love at first sight. It
happened to him when he was seven and over these many years, it has just
grown deeper. It's a love story that doesn't lack drama. He risks losing
his love because of financial constraints but has a strong backing of
love story, however, doesn't star a girl. It involves a sport for which
he is ready to sacrifice everything. While enjoying playing badminton
with his mother Anjali at the Club Aquaria in Borivali, he was intrigued
by the sport some of the members were playing inside a glass cubicle. It
was the first time he saw someone play squash and that was it - he
wanted to play the game. "He was very serious about it (playing squash).
We thought, why not give him a chance?" Anjali says.
then there has been no looking back. This year, he won the prestigious
Junior British Open and on Monday, he left for Chennai to play in the
World Junior Championships. A lot has changed for him since he first
picked up the squash racquet eight years ago, Mahesh says, except for
the love for the game and the excitement when he steps on a court each
cliché but sport does help you to mature as a person. Squash has given
me everything in life. I have my own identity because of this sport,"
the Standard X students says. "The fun part is that everyone in school
knows me. It's good to be a celebrity in your school," he added.
Arranging finance has been the biggest hurdle for Mahesh's parents.
sponsors, it becomes difficult to arrange for his trips, kits and other
equipments. For the last five years, we have been investing around Rs
15-20 lakh a year," Anjali says.
has been having training stints with high profile Egyptian coach Amir
Wagih, who also coaches Dipika Pallikal, Aditya Jagtap and former world
No.1 Amr Shabana. "I have been travelling to Cairo for last three years.
Training in Egypt is completely different as it is the squash
powerhouse. In India, I train under Waman Apte," Mahesh says. Wagih
feels Mahesh is the next big thing in Indian squash.
working with him. He has a great attitude on court and always has a
smile on his face. When he gets bigger and taller, I am sure he will be
the one to watch out for," he said. Mahesh's mother however feels if a
source of funding is not found, a promising career will come to a
Duncalf backs Olympic bid
finally, a snippet from Teletext here in the UK, concerning squash's bid
for the Olympics.
Duncalf has added her voice to those calling for squash to be included
in the Olympic Games.
England No 1 from Harrogate admits she has been spurred on by the buzz
surrounding the three-year countdown to the 2012 Games in London.
said: "When I play squash I play for myself, but also for England, and
to play for a medal in the Olympics as part of Team GB would be
SHABANA TO SHOWCASE US OPEN IN CHICAGO
Amr Shabana is the top seed so far
entered for the US Open in Chicago in September, and I look forward to
going over to the Windy City help out with the event.
A very talented organising team is
responsible for staging the tournament in a crucial year for squash as
we all wait anxiously to hear if our beloved sport is to be welcomed
into the 2016 Olympic Games programme.
The city of Chicago, meanwhile, is also
on tenterhooks as it awaits a decision from the IOC on its bid to host
the 2016 Games, so there's quite a buzz of anticipation surrounding the
The McWil glass court is being set up in
Pioneer Court, between the Tribune Tower and the Chicago River, from
The tournament offers a prize fund of
$52,500 and follows the successful open-air staging last year of the
Sweet Home Chicago Open, which survived a battering from the tail-end of
Hurricane Ike before England's Peter Barker defeated Australia's
US-based David Palmer in the final.
Tournament Director Imran Nasir, Head
Professional at the Lakeshore Athletic Club, is delighted to see the US
Open switch to Chicago and hopes the event will have a long and happy
He is busy organising community-based
events to run alongside the US Open, as well as arranging sponsorship
packages and corporate hospitality deals to build long-standing
partnerships with the Chicago business community.
He says: "Squash is a spectacular sport
to watch and one of our aims is to attract new people to the sport. The
open-air setting will give thousands of passers-by the chance to gain
their first glimpse of the sport. Luckily for them, they will be seeing
is the world's top professionals in action, and we hope that may lead to
many of them deciding to take up the sport and join many of the thriving
clubs in the city.
"Squash and business go hand in hand and
we already have excellent contacts with the Chicago business community.
The tournament provides opportunities for local companies to really get
involved with the event, and the sponsorship packages offer prime
signage locations and corporate hospitality opportunities at courtside
which rival any other sporting occasion for sheer value and
For full tournament details and ticketing
packages, please click on
For sponsorship packages, please contact Imran Nasir at (001)
Australian Open moves to Canberra
Another major event on the move is the
Australian Open. Squash Australia announced this week that Canberra will
host the Australian Open Men’s and Women’s Squash Championships for the
next four years.
The announcement follows hot on the heels
of Canberra's Stewart Boswell beating Cam Pilley to win the final of the
Clare Valley Australian Open in South Australia on Sunday, squeezing
home 11-9 in the fifth after 98 minutes of brutal squash. The two train
together and play doubles together, so it was inevitable that the match
would go the distance as they know each other's games so well.
Zealand's Joelle King (left) beat Annie Au of Hong Kong in the women's
Click image for larger view
GLASTONBURY GERIATRICS INSPIRE A NEW TRAINING REGIME
Sorry, folks, but this week's column has
been cancelled. I've been far too busy making the most of our mini
heatwave and watching those two great British institutions that usually
fall foul of the summer rain, namely Wimbledon and Glastonbury, bathed
in sunshine (apart from when the new roof was finally unveiled on Court
One on Monday).
It's such a difficult choice to make,
heading for the beach or slumping in front of the telly to cheer on
British hero Andy Murray (he's only Scottish when he loses) or watch
some of rock's golden oldies try to remember their chords and choruses
Status Quo don't appear to have too much
trouble in that department, probably because they've never used more
than four chords in their entire career.
But I was shocked to learn that Bruce
Springsteen is actually older than I am, which prompted a debate at the
squash club about fitness, memory, longevity and the secrets of
maintaining performance levels at an advanced age.
We'll never know, of course, how Michael
Jackson would have performed in his comeback series in London, but one
thing's for certain: he would have needed some phenomenal training prior
to rehearsals to have recreated his moonwalk and other amazing dance
routines at the age of 50.
Maybe it was the stress and strain of
rehearsals that resulted in his appetite for a cocktail of painkillers.
Whether in sport or any branch of
entertainment, the longer the breaks you take the harder you have to
work when you decide to get back on stage or the sporting arena,
whatever level you play at.
That's where the discussion focused on
Murray and his astonishing fitness levels. Watching him in action at
SW19 this year has been a real joy. He's faster, fitter and stronger,
all ingredients that have given him a rock-solid confidence.
He clearly has a massive appetite for
success, which has been apparent as he been chasing down balls around
the Centre Court as though his life depended on every point, even when
he has been enjoying a commanding lead. That's the kind of attitude that
made Peter Nicol such a dominant performer for so long in squash and it
provides a simple lesson for any ambitious player. The first priority is
to compete with your opponent on a physical level.
So, after debating the Murray muscles,
Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen and Peter "The Boss" Nicol, it was time to
get back on court after a two-week holiday and do some squash training,
armed with the knowledge that your performance levels drop by a
significant percentage in every area, even after just two weeks away
from the court.
In typical British style (following the
tradition of mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the mid-day sun) my
training partner Keith and I hit the court at 12.30pm yesterday as the
temperature peaked at 31 degrees.
It felt even hotter an hour later on an
oxygen-free court as we followed our drills by finishing up with a
match. After three games we were both leaning on our rackets, exhausted,
as a couple of rallies sneaked into double figures.
I suddenly felt very old, very fat and
But there's only one solution.
Final piece of squash-based Glastonbury
trivia: We were all mightily impressed by Natasha Khan of the band
called Bat For Lashes. She just happens to be the daughter of Rahmat
Khan, former coach of the mighty Jahangir.
I wonder if she would mind performing
alongside Lost For Words (featuring James Willstrop) and the Danny Lee
Band? Now that would be a great gig.
HOT WORK: Aaron
Frankcomb prepares to serve to Alan Clyne on a sweat-stained floor at
The Mote Picture by Kim Roberts
(click image for larger view)
Our new tournament, The Mote
Classic, was a big success down in sunny Kent. We attracted an excellent
draw, and our spectators were hugely impressed by the quality of the
play on offer.
Once again the pros displayed an
incredible mix of determination, hunger, sportsmanship, speed and skill
to entertain the crowds at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone. None more
so than in an incredible semi-final battle between Scotland's Alan Clyne
and Australia's No.2 seed Aaron Frankcomb.
Clyne held match ball in the fourth game
but Frankcomb held on to win the game and take it to the fifth, where he
triumphed in one minute under two hours.
It was a phenomenal battle, and, as our
picture shows, the floor was absolutely dripping with sweat and had to
be wiped several times.
In all my years of playing squash,
watching the game and organising tournaments, I don't think I have ever
seen a floor in such a condition
- not even during Jahangir's epic win
over Gamal Awad which lasted two hours and 46 minutes at Chichester all
those years ago.
The picture is a clear illustration of
the industry and commitment shown by our leading squash players. And it
clearly proves how much they deserve a place to showcase those talents
at the highest level, in the Olympic Games.
Sadly for Frankcomb, it was his second
five-game marathon of the day, having beaten Malaysia's Jam Adnan
earlier in the day, and although he put up a magnificent fight in the
final the following day, No.1 seed Chris Ryder of England prevailed 3-1
... in a mere 82 minutes.
We look forward to welcoming the players
back to the Garden of England next year, when we are planning to upgrade
the tournament to a PSA ranking event.
PAR ROW RAGES ON
It would have been interesting to see how
long the Clyne-Frankcomb match would have taken using traditional
scoring. Maybe it would have lasted longer than the Khan-Awad marathon.
Once again the question of scoring has
come to the fore as counties plan for next season. Already the two Kent
competitions, the Outer Kent League and Priory League, plus the Kent
Junior League) have voted overwhelmingly to retain traditional scoring.
Although the leading Kent male players
were happy to play PAR 11 in the county championships, the women
absolutely hated it.
And we are still nowhere near finding a
solution for junior girls'
squash, where a large percentage of
matches are over in less than ten minutes.
Chris Nutley, Head of Competition and
Events at England Squash and Racketball, sent the following note to
counties last week.
PAR SCORING: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2009-10
The last 12 months has seen a real shift
in our sport with the World Squash Federation (WSF) voting to adopt
Point A Rally (PAR) as the sports standard scoring system at its Annual
General Meeting in October last year. All championship squash played
under the WSF’s and the European Squash Federation’s jurisdiction is now
played PAR 11.
On a national level England Squash and
Racketball (ESR) introduced PAR
11 for all its junior squash at the
beginning of the 2008-09 season and trialled it at the 2009 senior Inter
County Premier Finals. PAR 11 has now also been adopted as the standard
scoring for Racketball and is already in use at all major tournaments.
From the 2009-10 season the following
events will be PAR 11:
•National Squash Championships (senior
and junior) •British Junior Open •Senior Inter County Championships
•Junior Inter County Championships •All junior sanctioned events
•National Racketball Championships •ESR sanctioned racketball
championships In addition, we are looking at the suitability of PAR 11
for Masters, and are currently engaged in consultation with Over-35 and
Over-40 players to gauge opinion. A decision will be made prior to the
start of the new season as to whether to move to PAR 11 for these
categories. For all other age groups in ESR events, HI-HO (hand-in,
hand-out) scoring will remain for 2009 for the 2009-10 season.
We do see this as an evolutionary
process. Pretty much the whole of Europe and many parts of the world
have already moved completely to PAR
11 for all squash.
As previously recommended, ESR suggests
that counties consider the adoption of PAR 11 for county closed and
county leagues for the 2009-10 season onwards. A number of counties have
looked at this in a different ways. Some have adopted PAR 11 for premier
divisions, others across the board.
Some have decided that, for now, they do
not want to change.
Furthermore, we do believe that scoring
systems at recreational and club level should be entirely discretionary,
and are not proposing mandatory change in this area.
AFTER THE APPLAUSE IN LAUSANNE, THE WORLD
OF SQUASH WAITS FOR IOC VOTE
The World Squash Federation's 2016 Bid
Team delivered their final presentation to the IOC in Lausanne on
Former world champion Thierry Lincou
described the ordeal as being as mentally challenging and nerve-wracking
as any major championship match he has played during a long and
The unexpected star of the show was
13-year-old Hanna Fekede, whose word-perfect delivery of squash's
message produced spontaneous applause from the most influential sports
officials on the planet.
All seven competing sports bidding for a
place in the 2016 Olympics now face a nervous wait until mid-August,
when the IOC will nominate two contenders to go forward to the final
vote in Copenhagen on October 2.
George Mieras, the WSF Olympic Bid Co-Ordinator,
said: "We were all delighted with the way our presentation went on
Monday. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday rehearsing the
presentations, reviewing, changing here and there, getting the timings
right and also going over potential questions which we thought might be
"Scott Garrett, our Bid Manager, worked
tirelessly to bond and direct the group and get the presentations up to
top standard. Come Monday afternoon off we went to find that things were
running a bit early, so there was no waiting around, it was into the
deeply impressive IOC Conference Room and on with the presentation.
"For those of us sitting downstairs
waiting time passed very slowly.
Then we heard applause - amazing - and
next our party came round the corner with our Patron, HRH Tunku Imran,
wreathed in smiles. All the panel were exhausted with the tension:
Thierry Lincou summed it up 'that was pressure of a degree I have never
encountered in any match I have played'.
"The presentation format began with our
introductions, then our brand new DVD, then two minutes each from the
panel members with accompanying photographs on the four-sided central
screen, then questions, a total of 30 minutes.
"We had one absolute starlet on our team,
13 year old Hanna Fekede, tiny in stature but with a mixture of poise
and utter charm. In a wonderful presentation, which struck an emotional
chord with every listener, Hanna stood up and spoke totally from memory.
When she finished there was spontaneous applause from the IOC Executive
"The summary followed, then amazingly no
questions bar one from the President asking World No.1 Nicol David “how
a boyfriend might be fitted into her incredibly busy schedule”, a
question fielded with total aplomb
- ask her! President Rogge then said 'an
excellent presentation' and there was further applause. We had a long
period of press interviews after that, with Rami, Nicol and of course
Hanna being much sought after.
"You can see our state of art DVD, which
in HD really does prove that the ball can be seen and that squash is TV
friendly, and the presentation speeches on our website - do take a look.
"Four months ago we were lagging behind;
there is no doubt about it. But since January we have worked tirelessly
and made gigantic strides. Our Patron, who is of course an IOC Member,
was absolutely delighted with the massive improvement in our
presentation and the way we had answered most of the questions posed
after the November 2008 presentation.
"Everyone involved really managed this
weekend to give it the very best shot possible and the whole squash
family can be deeply proud of that panel of presenters: HRH Tunku Imran,
President Ramachandran, Nicol David, Thierry Lincou, Siyole Lusasemi (a
first year professional from South Africa) and Hanna Fekede.
"Scott Garrett was the IT man and Team
Director and has given our bid massive commitment since being invited to
become Bid Manager in mid-January. Our PR/Media company, Juniper, has
also been doing splendid work especially for the publications which IOC
"We must not forget the many years of
preparatory work which went into all of this. Tunku Imran, Susie Simcock,
Jahangir Khan all worked so hard during their terms of office as
President and thereafter to develop the contacts and get us the
opportunity to become serious contenders for a place in the Olympic
"Working on this with all of them of
course was our utterly dedicated CEO for these many years, Ted
Wallbutton, whose contribution was immense. We have been much helped
this past year in particular by Ramona von Ondarza, whose quite amazing
knowledge of things Olympic and the IOC people has been invaluable to
"We have Jahangir now featured in the
Olympic museum in the Sporting Heroes section - if in Lausanne do visit
"Many, many others have also helped and
supported this bid. Our partners PSA and WISPA are totally committed.
Year in, year out our own media Director, Howard Harding, has also kept
us in the Olympic eye. We are also deeply appreciative of the literally
hundreds of messages wishing us good luck, which we received between us
this weekend, from National Federations and individuals - thank you all
so much. Many contributions to our fund have been made and we hope that
there will be many more yet as we still face a very significant shortage
- please do continue to publicise this need and help us.
"We have done all that we can do up to
this stage. We must now keep ourselves in front of the IOC Executive
Board during the weeks to come and we shall do so. They have an
incredibly difficult task ahead in choosing two out of seven excellent
contending sports. We just hope and believe that the reasons which we
gave them, as in our view compelling in favour of squash, will see us as
one of these two sports, turning our long-held dream into a reality and
seeing our squash family become part of the much greater Olympic
Scott Garrett said: "Our team, led by HRH
Prince Imran (WSF Patron), captained by N. Ramachandran (WSF President),
with team members Nicol David, Thierry Lincou, Siyoli Lusaseni and Hana
Fekede, presented squash's case for Olympic inclusion to the Executive
Board of the IOC.
"These are the most powerful people
in sport, who have seen and heard it all. Yet the Squash 2016 team was
able to make them applaud spontaneously both mid-way through the
30-minute presentation, and again loudly at the end. Several IOC members
were also seen to wipe away a tear or two, such was the power of our
presentation. You can see our bid film here (www.squash2016.info)
"On a personal note, I should like to
thank each and every one of you from the squash community for your
contribution to this effort. We could not have put on such a stellar
performance on Monday without you and I know the bid team would like you
to share their pride in the professional way in which they represented
"But it ain't over yet. Next steps for
the IOC Executive Board are to reconvene in Berlin in mid-August, at
which time they will recommend a short list of new sports to be included
in 2016. We believe that list will contain only two sports, for the IOC
General Congress to vote on, en bloc, at its meeting in Copenhagen in
"So we will know if we are still in the
race by about August 14, and, if so, we should know for sure if we are
in the 2016 Games on October 2.
"Lots to do between now and then, but for
now, my thanks to you. We took a big stride towards victory on Monday.
Now let's nail it on."
DOUBLES ON TV: THE WAITE IS OVER
Hats off to Gary Waite for his incredible efforts to
promote doubles squash and take it to a new level in North America.
The Toronto Globe and Mail recently published one of the
longest newspaper articles I have ever seen on the game and featured
Waite's courageous $25,000 investment into a scheme to televise doubles
and develop a new glass court especially for the four-player version of
The article covers Waite's televised exhibition match,
dubbed Tango in Toronto, in which he partnered Ben Gould against Viktor
Berg and Damien Mudge before a packed gallery at the Badminton and
Racquet Club of Toronto.
The TV production company hired by Waite placed an
overhead camera in the ceiling to track the movement of the players
below and further cameras were placed along the front wall in
unbreakable Perspex boxes, a wise precaution given the potential for
damage when a hardball doubles ball is struck at maximum power.
Waite is a true evangelist for doubles, and, as well as
canvassing for more courts, he is encouraging younger players to take up
the game in contrast to the general perception of doubles being the
equivalent of bowls or golf: something you do when you wit playing
The full-sized American hardball doubles courts are 45
feet long, half as much again as a traditional singles court, so you can
imagine the fitness required to cover both front and back areas of the
court in matches that frequently last two hours or more.
In this case, Waite and Gould lost to Mudge and Berg in a
match lasting two hours and 40 minutes. The skill of Waite's production
partners will be in editing the highlights to fill a 50-minute TV slot.
Unlike the form of doubles played in the Commonwealth
Games, on a court which is marginally bigger than a singles court, the
big hardball doubles court produces a totally different style of squash
altogether, with far more opportunities for outrageous shot-making.
During the recent Derek Sword Trophy match at Edinburgh
Sports Club, it was a pleasure to engage with our American visitors on
the doubles court. Edinburgh has the only full-sized hardball doubles
court in Europe, and I am keen to develop some new tournaments up there
in partnership with ESC to make full use of this amazing facility.
Pat Canavan, Head Pro at New York Athletic Club, is a big
doubles fan and as we shared a beer or two on the Edinburgh gallery he
spoke in absolute awe of the transition from singles to doubles (and
rock star) undertaken by Paul Price, the Aussie who was runner-up to
David Evans in the 2000 British Open.
Pat said: "Price hits shots you simply wouldn't believe.
He is one of the guys taking the sport to a new level for spectators."
I must admit I'm a fully paid-up convert to Gary Waite's
ideas. I absolutely adore hardball doubles and would love to get some
new events going. It's just a shame that the guy who runs the ISDA pro
tour in North America did not have the courtesy to respond to my emails
when I wrote to suggest bringing over some of the top American players
for an International Challenge in Edinburgh. The idea is still coming
together, but I guess I'd stand more chance of a reply if I wrote to Mr
Source: The Globe and Mail
GET WELL SOON, LINDA
Best wishes to popular referee Linda Davie, who is in
hospital waiting for an operation. She had been planning to join us at
The Mote Classic this weekend but an appointment with the surgeon
obviously takes priority! I look forward to buying her a haggis lunch as
soon as she is up and about again.
FINAL FURLONG FOR WSF 2016 BID TEAM
luck to Scott Garrett and his WSF Olympic Bid Team as they prepare for
their final presentation to the IOC in Lausanne next week.
the seven sports bidding for a place in the 2016 Olympic Games has just
half an hour in front of the IOC panel.
presentation will include a new film recently commissioned by Garrett,
and his team will include women's world champion Nicol David and a
number of Squash 2016 ambassadors.
IOC election process for new sports means that in August their Executive
Board will announce two candidates to go forward to the final vote in
Copenhagen in October, when they will face a straight Yes or No verdict.
success of the recent Squash 2016 Day programme raised the profile of
the sport all over the planet and may well have helped to generate extra
votes in our favour.
looking in from outside cannot have failed to notice the global spread
of the events, and how most activities were geared towards juniors, who
may well be at the peak of their careers in 2016 and, hopefully, bidding
for an Olympic medal.
MOTE CLASSIC ATTRACTS AN INTERNATIONAL
A new tournament emerges this week with
the launch of The Mote Classic Pro-Am at my home club, The Mote Squash
Club in Maidstone, the county town of Kent.
Sixteen locals play off in a qualifying
round on Thursday night with the eight winners gaining the opportunity
to tackle eight professionals in Friday's first round.
Kent county coach Ben Ford, the No.4
seed, will be assured of local support as he bids for success in the
inaugural tournament. The top two seeds are Chris Ryder (Herts) and
Australia's Aaron Frankcomb, ranked 36 and 42 respectively in the latest
PSA world rankings.
Third seed is Malaysia's Mohamed Nafizwan
Adnan, followed by Ford, Scottish No.1 Alan Clyne, Adnan's brother
Nafzahizan, and rising Derbyshire star Joel Hinds and Cambridgeshire's
shotmaker extraordinaire Galen Le Cheminant.
Qualifiers who are hoping to impress
include Ireland's Rob Staunton, Kent county player Neil Baker (from
Sittingbourne) and the immensely promising 13-year-old James Evans, who
is now playing for the host club's first team. Evans will be playing
fellow Kent youngster Elliot Knight in a Junior Challenge ahead of
This is the final tournament in a busy
season at The Mote, which has hosted the Kent County Closed, the
four-tournament Kent Grand Prix Series and a sell-out Prince Roadshow
featuring Peter Nicol and Tim Garner.
The tournament is sponsored by Harrow
rackets and Britain's oldest brewery, the Faversham-based Shepherd Neame.
The event will feature coaching clinics
for women and juniors and we are delighted to have attracted such a
quality draw in our first year.
Our ambition is to develop the tournament
into an annual ranking event but at the same time we are determined to
promote grass-roots squash and give local players the opportunity to rub
shoulders with the leading professionals.
Thursday: Qualifying competition (6pm)
Friday: First round (6pm)
Saturday: Quarter-finals (11am and 12 noon) and semi-finals (5pm and
6pm) plus Plate competition, doubles and tournament party.
Sunday: Doubles semi-finals and final, Plate Final, Junior Challenge and
IRAN AND USA JOIN FORCES TO BACK THE BID
Iran and the USA joined forces last week.
The two nations came to the fore in a red-letter day for squash. Both
countries created high-profile events for Squash 2016 Day during a
worldwide festival to promote the sport’s efforts to win a place in the
2016 Olympic Games.
And, what an amazing day it turned out to
be, with hundreds of events all over the globe helping to raise the
profile of the sport.
From Bollywood to Hollywood, from Soweto
to San Francisco, from China to Chile, from Auckland to Amsterdam,
Squash 2016 Day recorded a resounding rallying cry for the Olympic Bid.
Several key messages were obvious to any
onlooker from the IOC. First, the images that emerged from all over the
world proved that squash is a truly global sport. And, equally
important, was the message that we as a sporting family are totally
united in our passion to see squash become an Olympic sport.
TEHRAN AND TERAN MAKE HEADLINES
Probably the best-attended event in our
global programme was in Tehran, where the Iran Squash Federation invited
600 guests to their Squash Day Conference.
Visitors included Dr Ali Abadi, President
of the International Olympic Committee of Iran.
Olympic ambassadors Samantha Teran and
Siyoli Lusaseni were busy both on and of court. Samantha led a host of
events at different clubs all over Mexico City and then invited everyone
back to her family’s nightclub to party away to the small hours.
In Cape Town, South Africa, Villager
Squash Club hosted a "Last Man Standing" Tournament. It turned out that
the tournament should have been titled "Last Person Standing" since a
woman, Siyoli, was crowned the Champion after five hours of squash and
24 games with different opponents.
BATTLE OF THE BORDER
The event with biggest number of
participants was held at the Apawamis Club in Rye, New York, where
squash legends Jonathon Power, David Palmer and John White took part in
a 100-a-side Battle Of The Border fixture, joined by US number ones
Julian Illingworth and Natalie Grainger.
They were joined by fellow pros from
around the world including David Palmer, Bernardo Samper, Rafael
Alarcon, Raj Nanda, Chris Walker, John Russell, Ryan Cuskelly, Mike
Ferreira, Stuart Crawford, Mark Price, Phil Barker, Peter Briggs, Suzie
Pierrepont, Kasey Brown, Lisa Camillieri and Narelle Krizek.
World No.2 Grainger, a Squash 2016
Ambassador, said: "It was fantastic to see so many leading players
supporting the event and more than 500 people came through the club's
doors on the day. The event raised money for the bid, showcased squash
in the most positive way and helped to raise the profile of the sport."
HONG KONG CONFERENCE
I spotted Aussie legends Geoff Hunt and
Sarah Fitzgerald in the front row of the group picture taken at the
start of the Ninth World Squash Coaching and Development Conference in
Guests included the Hon. Timothy Fok, IOC
Member and President of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of
Hong Kong, China, who delivered a very encouraging speech to all the
participants of the conference in support of World Squash Day (Squash
Mr. Gerald DeCourcy, Vice-President of
the World Squash Federation and Mr. David Mui, Chairman of Hong Kong
Squash accompanied Mr. Fok in a group photo with all the participants
from around the world.
IMAGES WITH IMPACT
As well as a series of open days to
showcase the sport and attract new participants, squash lovers took to
the streets the world over to honour our request to create a collection
of photographic images at some of the world’s most iconic locations.
Pictures were uploaded showing
enthusiasts waving their Squash For 2016 banners outside the Taj Mahal,
Sydney Opera House, Table Mountain, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur,
Millennium Park in Chicago, the Angel of Independence in Mexico City, a
Japanese castle, plus a variety of London landmarks.
SUN, SAND AND SQUASH
My favourite set of pictures came from
the West Coast of the USA, where a group of youngsters from Surf City
Squash, an urban youth programme in San Diego, took to the beach.
The students designed a giant squash
racket, Olympic rings, and a ball in the sand on the beach providing the
many beachgoers an opportunity to learn about the sport and the effort
to make it an Olympic sport.
ROCK AND SAMBA
The day began with Kiwi rock star Phil
Buscke of The Datsuns performing a bungee jump live on TV – not once,
but twice (!) - off Auckland Harbour Bridge, and then heading for the
squash courts for a live TV link alongside Shelley Kitchen and Dame
Another mega music star to join the fun
was Brazilian Daniela Mercury, who joined the carnival atmosphere at
Squash Day in Sao Paulo.
ALL ABOARD THE LONDON BUS
Another pair of musicians, more renowned
for their involvement in squash, climbed aboard a red London bus to join
a group of squash fans on a tour of the city, stopping off to take
pictures at the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the
London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. We knocked
and asked if we could pop in for a game on the palace court, but the
very understanding footman was having none of it, despite our
explanation that Prince Philip was Patron of England Squash and wouldn’t
mind us setting up an impromptu round-robin.
Who were our mystery musicians, I hear
you ask? None other than Danny Lee, who plays in a band alongside
producing his famed St George’s Hill Academy, and World Squash Media
Director Howard Harding, who plays trumpet in a jazz band. Another
passenger on the bus has written a musical and is about to start
rehearsals, but has asked to remain anonymous until the project’s media
MAGIC IN MALAYSIA
The Malaysians outdid the Londoners with
a 16-vehicle motorcade, supported by four police outriders, making its
way to seven iconic buildings in Kuala Lumpur (including the Parliament
House, National Museum, Sultan Samad Building, City Hall, Royal Selangor
Club, KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers) where group photographs were
The day rounded off in sensational style
with a press conference at which CIMB Investment Bank announced a 4
Million Malaysian Ringgit sponsorship deal with the Squash Racquets
Association of Malaysia to extend the current agreement by a further two
"Never in the history of squash in
Malaysia had we witnessed the entire squash fraternity nationwide coming
together to support a worthy cause,"
commented K. Sivanesen, Hon. Secretary of
SRA Malaysia. "All through the length and breadth of the country, Squash
For 2016 Day was a day of squash festivities, fun and joy."
Malaysia’s world champion Nicol David
hosted a special day at her Amsterdam training base, along with fellow
pros Annelize Naude and Aisling Blake. She then joined a video link back
home to her Squash Stars friends in Penang, where an auction of her
favourite rackts and clothing raised a tidy sum towards the Olympic Bid
TOKYO TAKES TO SQUASH
The Japanese Squash Federation did a
great job arranging an extensive programme throughout the country,
including a major media conference in Tokyo, which is bidding to be one
of the host cities for the 2016 Olympics.
MARATHON MANIA IN CHILE AND IRELAND
By the far most exhausted supporters of
Squash 2016 day were those hardy individuals at the Lenadura Club in
Punta Arenas, Chile, and like-minded gluttons for punishment at the
Thurles Squash Club in Tipperary, Ireland, led by club No.1 Anthony
Maher, who played 24-hour squash marathons.
KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING
I have now run out of time and space to
mention every event that took place. Well done to everybody for
supporting the events and especially those who organised them.
The day generated enormous publicity,
much of it in the all-important Olympic media segment, which was always
one of our main targets.
We know that our efforts were noticed by
several prominent individuals within the IOC, who cannot fail to have
absorbed two key messages, namely that squash is a truly global sport
and that our leading players have a burning desire to part of the
With that kind of commitment to the
cause, squash absolutely deserves a place in the Games.
Now we must hope that the energy and
passion so evidently on display last week helps to build the momentum as
the bid process draws to a climax.
To see all the Squash 2016 Day action,
images and TV clips, please log on to:
It will make you proud.
Squash 2016 Day Unites Players In
Support Of Olympic Bid
From the townships
of Soweto to many of the world's wealthiest cities, from the southern
tip of South America to the edge of the Arctic Circle, squash players
all over the globe are uniting to support their sport's bid for a place
in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Squash 2016 Day
takes place on Saturday (May 23) with a worldwide festival of
Special emphasis is
focused on the four cities bidding to host the 2016 Games, with
extensive squash programmes scheduled to take place in Chicago, Madrid,
Rio and Tokyo.
All four cities
will be holding open-air demonstrations and open days at major clubs
with top professionals lending a hand.
Squash 2016 fever
has caught on all over the world and the day launches in New Zealand
with rock star Phil Buscke, guitarist with The Datsuns,
wearing his Squash 2016 T-shirt as he does a bungee jump from Auckland
Harbour Bridge live on TV.
Clubs big and small
are joining forces as the sport aims to raise its profile ahead of the
crucial IOC voting process.
Club in Soweto is
holding an open day, with hundreds of local children taking to the
courts for a free introduction to the sport.
WORLD STARS SUPPORT THE BID
champion Nicol David and England No1 Nick Matthew are
backing the bid in style.
25-year-old world No1 from Malaysia, is holding an auction of her prized
tournament memorabilia in her home city of Penang.
World No6 Matthew,
meanwhile, is heading to Milan for the Five Nations Tournament
with his Sheffield Hallamshire team taking Squash 2016 banners,
flags and T-shirts to the Polisquash Sports Club.
TAKING TO THE STREETS
Squash buses will
be taking to the streets in London and the Malaysian capital of Kuala
Lumpur, where squash enthusiasts will be waving their banners and posing
for pictures in front of iconic locations such as Buckingham Palace
and the Petronas Towers.
At the end of the
day, Squash 2016 Day organisers will have amassed an amazing collection
of images from all over the world, which will help to illustrate
squash's truly global appeal.
FROM BOLLYWOOD TO HOLLYWOOD
photo opportunities are being planned in India, with squash fans
descending on the Taj Mahal, Agra, and also the Taj Mahal Palace
Hotel, which was attacked by terrorists in November last year. There
are further Squash 2016 activities all over India, with events taking
place in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata.
In America, a host
of events are taking place all over the country, with squash fans waving
banners and flags in front of the world famous Hollywood sign in Los
legends Jonathon Power and John White will be taking part
alongside women's world No2 Natalie Grainger in the 100-a-side
Battle of The Border match at the Apawamis Club in Connecticut.
marathons are being held, one at the Leñadura Country Club at the
southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, and the other at
Thurles Squash Club in County Tipperary, Ireland.
information on Squash 2016 Day activities, please log on to:
For information on
the World Squash Federation Olympic bid, please go to:
JUMP START FOR DATSUNS STAR TO LAUNCH SQUASH
FOR 2016 DAY
news arrives from New Zealand, where The Datsuns guitarist Phil Buscke
is doing a bungee jump off Auckland Harbour Bridge (live on TV) to
launch Squash For 2016 Day in style on May 23.
Buscke, a guitarist with New Zealand hard rock band The Datsuns, will be
dressed in his Squash For 2016 T-shirt as he does a bungee jump from
Auckland Harbour Bridge.
who used to play A grade squash in New Zealand and was a member of the
Kiwis' high performance squad before The Datsuns gained international
fame, says he is determined to help raise the profile of the game in its
crucial build-up to the Olympic voting process.
said: "I've been asked to do a lot of things by Squash New Zealand in
the past, but I never thought they'd ask me to jump off a bridge."
Olympic bid, he added: "All I can say is, if I'm throwing myself off a
bridge, squash had better bloody well get in!"
splitting his time between recording and touring with The Datsuns and
playing squash, he said: "I don't get much time to play when I'm
overseas, but I'm planning to spend a bit more time at home in future
and would like to do a bit of coaching."
SQUASHING ALL OVER THE WORLD
2016 Day on May 23 is a fun-filled worldwide festival of activities to
promote the Olympic bid and attract new participants to the sport. Major
events are taking place all over the globe with special focus on the
four cities bidding to host the 2016 Games, namely Chicago, Madrid, Rio
DAVID GETS INVOLVED AND ELAINE TAN PLANS ANOTHER JUMP
Malaysia, women's world number one Nicol David will be involved in a
Squash Open Day at the International Squash Centre in her home town of
Penang in a collaboration between Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia
and Squash Stars. Nicol will be auctioning off itemsof clothing and
equipment she wore and used on her way to to 50 WISPA titles - and event
organiser Elaine Tan writes to say she is holding a competition on
Facebook to come up with the cleverest idea of how to celebrate if
squash wins one of the two coveted places in the 2016 Olympics. Elaine
herself has written: "If squash is voted in to the 2016 Olympics, I
pledge to jump off the tallest building in my country (the Petronas
Towers)." That effort will take some beating!
LEGENDS LEND A HAND
USA, squash legends Jonathon Power and John White will be appearing in
the 100-a-side Battle Of The Border match at the Apawamis Club in
Connecticut. Also there will be women's world No2 Natalie Grainger,
fresh from her appearance in the final of the Cayman Islands Open.
will also be getting the Hollywood treatment in Los Angeles, where the
local squash community are planning a massive day of activities.
DAY IN THE USA
Jack Farley writes:
are also many… MANY more events being planned across the states in Los
Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, and New
York City… to name just a few geographically scattered across the
3,000-mile span here stateside. All our Urban city youth groups, our
colleges and high schools, our public and private clubs and every US
Squash member is focused on making a memorable contribution to the
worldwide event… Olympic squash in 2016 being the ultimate goal!!
have T-shirt adorned mobs with rackets in hand saluting Squash
Day… with pictures galore posted on
Angeles: Banners in front of Hollywood sign and Universal Studios Stefan
Casteleyn, former world No.7 PSA player and 14-time Belgian National
Champion, now the Head Squash Professional at the prestigious Los
Angeles Athletic Club, is planning a FREE full-day of squash activities
in support of SQUASH FOR 2016, which includes a one day "wooden racket"
tournament, a refereeing seminar and professional squash exhibitions.
York: Squash 2016 Day gala to be held at the brand new facility in Rye,
NY (five glass wall singles and two doubles courts).
CitySquash is thrilled to participate in the festivities of World Squash
Day. That weekend, CitySquash will have its Bronx students playing at
locations all around the NY area, including StreetSquash, Rye Country
Day School, Hackley School and Fordham University.
StreetSquash in New York City will be hosting a middle school squash
tourney for Urban Programs at their new 8 court facility. We plan to
have press cover this event and have a potential US Congress member be
the chief guest. Every kid will be given a Squash for 2016 T-Shirt.
You for the shirts we just received them today.
LIFE, PLAY SQUASH!
Time Fitness Group will be supporting World Squash Day, with events at
all 23 clubs in the group.
say: "We will open our doors in 23 centers across the US to members and
non-members at 11am and hosting games of skill that players of all ages
and skill can enjoy. We will have a World Squash Day register that all
will sign in on that will be sent to US Squash for inclusion in the road
to the 2016 Olympics."
www.lifetimefitness.com to see all of the participating centers.
SUPPORT FROM ENGLAND SQUASH
Squash are supporting the Bid in solid style, and Paul Lynch and his
marketing team have created a superb Squash 2016 Day Tool Kit and Media
Pack to help any club who wishes to stage an event.
crucial Olympic voting process draws near, why miss out on this amazing
opportunity to do something special to support the bid and show your
passion for our brilliant game at a time when your support is needed
DAY OUT IN LONDON
fans will be taking to the streets in a number of cities, including
London, to wave Squash For 2016 Day banners in front of iconic buildings
such as the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham
similar activities taking place at key locations all over the world, we
hope to build up a massive bank of images which will clearly illustrate
squash's global appeal, which is one of the key messages of the sport's
bid for Olympic inclusion."
THE BID, BUY THE SHIRT
T-shirts will be on sale featuring the Squash 2016 logo, with proceeds
from each sale supporting the Bid Fund. Orders can be placed with
Kentbridge Sports via
www.kentbridgesports.co.uk - while T-shirt sales in the USA are
being co-ordinated by the Harrow brand via their website
London, Cecily Lewis says: "I'm running an event at X-cel, Elmbridge
Leisure Centre, Riverside Drive, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. An afternoon
of demos, tournaments, goody-bags, and lots of fun for beginners,
intermediates and the very advanced!
Tynemouth SC: "We'll be having a full day of activities, something on
every hour from 9am to 9pm for members and non-members of all ages and
Strings in Swansea: "We will be getting involved with Lots of fun
activities planned! Let's raise some money! Squash at 2016 - Bring it
WHAT'S HAPPENING AT YOUR CLUB?
let us know and log on to
www.worldsquashday.com to upload preview material about your event,
and post news and pictures on the day as an amazing day for squash
unfolds across all the different time zones.
can register their Squash 2016 Day events on the World Squash Federation
www.worldsquash.org (or go direct to
www.worldsquashday.com) and will have the opportunity to make
instant donations to the Olympic Bid Fund.
Alan Thatcher trawls the web to
find some fascinating features on squash this week.
KEEP ON MOVING THE WILLSTROP WAY
Fascinating to read an interview with
James Willstrop this week on his training methods.
The interview, published in the superb
runners' website Spikesmag.com, featured James's thoughts on running and
James Willstrop on plyometrics training
England’s James Willstrop is the world
No.5 squash player. The 25-year-old star of the high-energy racket sport
chatted to spikesmag.com about the importance of plyometrics as part of
his overall training.
Squash is a physically demanding sport do
you have to carry out a lot of running as part of your training?
JW: I don’t do much running. Perhaps
years ago (I would have done a lot of running) but the way training has
evolved squash is a very specific sport. I’m not saying running wouldn’t
be good, because it can good for general fitness and cardio, but it just
lacks specificity. We do a lot of endurance work but more specific to
the squash court.
Can you give some examples?
JW: If you want to do a hard endurance
session a lot of squash is about running in short bursts and twisting
and turning. The most specific thing would be to do ghosting work where
you are basically hitting the ball without actually hitting the ball.
You can do intervals in a minute or a minute and a half because squash
takes in both those areas because it is endurance and explosive. That
(session) would be more specific to squash.
Don’t you do any running?
JW: Very rarely. The only time I ever run
is when I go trail running in Colorado. I find it much safer in terms of
impact. Trail running offers stepping, side-stepping a lot of awareness
of your body and stability which is incredibly important for squash
because your body is being dragged around the court.
What about plyometric work?
JW: Definitely, it is very, very
important. I do plyometrics alongside strength work. I jump onto boxes
and jump. This helps me because I do a lot of forward and backward
movement trying to go take control of the middle of the court into the T
area. I work very hard on plyometrics because it is not very natural to
How many times a week?
JW: I do some sort of plyometric training
during my warm ups. I often incorporate it into my strength training, so
if I do a weight’s session I’ll often do a plyometric exercise. Often it
is intermingled into different sessions.
Did you much athletics when you were
JW: It is a sport which really interests
me. My physio, Alison Rose (former physio to double Olympic champion
Kelly Holmes), is into athletics and I keep informed through her. I
really enjoy watching athletics and see a lot of athletes around at the
EIS (English Institute of Sport) in Sheffield. I think they are unspoilt
and I watch the big meets if I can.
Do you do much athletics when you were
JW: I was never really quick enough to be
a sprinter, but I remember doing the 400m, 800m and 1500m and I enjoyed
those. I remember coming second at school, I’m a big bloke I’m not
really a runners’ build. I was okay, and I was pretty decent at cross
country. I had a go at shot put and javelin. I don’t think I stood out
but the middle distances were my best events.
Did you have track and field heroes when
you were younger?
JW: During the early 1990s I remember
watching Liz McColgan and Linford
(Christie) and Sally Gunnell were winning
their Olympic gold medals.
I’ve always watched all sports and I
remember Carl Lewis being the best in the world.
WELCOME BACK TO LEILANI
Great to hear that the lovely Leilani
Rorani is planning a comeback to the courts.
The former World Open and British Open
champion has whetted her appetite after coaching New Zealander Joelle
King and has enjoyed the experience so much that she is keen to start
The following article by Evan Pegden
appeared in the Wakato Times last week.
Seven years after retiring from top
squash, former world champion Leilani Rorani will return to the court in
the Waikato Squash Open tomorrow night.
But if the unthinkable happens and she
reaches the final, the Hamilton mother-of-three will forgo it - her
religious beliefs prevent her from playing on Sundays.
Rorani, 35, has been seeded third in the
women's open division of the ASB Waikato Open but denies this is a
serious comeback at national or international level.
"It's just been about getting back into
shape again," Rorani, who also won two British Open titles and two
Commonwealth Games gold medals, said today.
"Our youngest is 18 months old now so I'm
more able to play in tournaments now. With my goal to get back into
shape, I found one of the best ways was to just get back into playing
"I don't play on a Sunday any more so I'm
seeded up against girls who hopefully will be able to beat me on a
Her first match tomorrow at the Hamilton
Squash and Tennis Club will be against 14th-seeded Danielle Fourie.
"It's amazing how far experience can get
you it can get you through a lot. I've still got some fitness there,
certainly not as much speed as before, but we're actually working on
With the North Island championships, also
to be held in Hamilton in June, along with the Mitchell Cup/Cousins
Shield tournament later in the year, Rorani intends to play in all of
them, as well as a couple of tournaments in Auckland and the New Zealand
masters championships in Whakatane.
"I'm just picking and choosing
tournaments as it suits around my family commitments."
Rorani, who retired in 2002, said she had
been playing socially since the start of the year, but inspiration to
play at tournament level had come from her mentoring of Cambridge's New
Zealand No 4 Joelle King.
"Hitting against her has pretty much
given me the confidence that I can play in some tournaments and not make
a complete fool of myself on court, although we played an exhibition
earlier this month and she absolutely thrashed me in three (games).
"It was a really fun experience, I was
really happy to be there and it made me feel like I'd like to play some
King is top seed in the absence of the
injured Kiwi No1 Shelley Kitchin for this weekend's tournament, which
starts tonight, while New Zealand
No2 Martin Knight is the men's top seed.
ANOTHER CANADIAN MARATHON
Shawn DeLierre and Shahier Razik have
been involved in another marathon match.
Earlier this season they met in the
semi-finals of the Baltimore Cup and De Lierre won 9-11, 8-11, 11-7,
13-11, 11-5 in two hours and 30 minutes, a record match length since the
PSA switched their scoring system to PAR-11.
This time the Toronto-based Razik
defeated Brossard, Quebec man DeLierre to win the Canadian Squash
Circuit men's overall title in Calgary for a fourth consecutive year.
Amazingly, it took almost an hour and a half for three games!
Razik, Canada's No. 1 player and ranked
29th in the world, defeated DeLierre 9-11, 14-12, 11-7 in 87 minutes. I
would be interested to learn if that's a record for three games.
"We play so much and know each other's
game so well that they tend to be long matches, " said Razik. "They are
not fun matches, I can tell you. In the first game I was too anxious and
trying to attack too early. I settled at about the halfway point of the
second game. " Razik is pleased with his game heading into the Canadian
Championships in Calgary.
"I'm really happy with where I'm at after
all the training, " said Razik. "I feel good and I'm moving well on the
In the third-place match, Robin Clarke of
Ottawa defeated David Phillips of Pointe-Claire, Quebec, 12-10, 10-12,
In the women's final Runa Reta beat
Miranda Ranieri of Waterloo, Ontario.
Bucks Ladies team unbeaten
A LADIES team from Bucks Squash and
Racket Club have challenged the misconception that it's a sport for
youngster - with an age range of 55 years, they have just gone unbeaten
through their season to win their league.
The team, including grannies (including
one over 70) as well as schoolgirls, playing in the Buckinghamshire
County League Division Two, won every one of their matches during the
2008/9 season and finished top of their League.
The age range of 55 years between the
youngest and oldest team member has not stopped the team having a great
deal of fun – as well as playing some exciting squash.
The squad of nine players consists of
schoolgirl Sarah Wyatt, university student Elisha Walia, therapist Janet
Copp, mothers Debbie Hill, Angie Stockwell, and Maria Power (with eight
children between them), captain Marian Holmes, and grannies Brenda Ede
(with one daughter and two grandchildren) and Hazel Malpass (with two
daughters and five grandchildren).
So, ladies – if you fancy joining in this
great way of getting exercise while you have fun, get in touch with your
nearest squash club. It's a lot cheaper and much more fun than those
boring gym clubs.
Source: Bucks Free Press
Whole new ball game for Palmer
Fascinating news from the NZ Herald –
Canary Wharf champion David Palmer has been invited to perform a
specialist coaching role – in rugby union!
Palmer, one of the fittest players on the
PSA Tour (hence his nickname The Marine), has been approached by the
Wallabies’ coach Robbie Deans to undertake a conditioning role with his
Hungry for any edge over the All Blacks,
Deans is hoping Palmer’s phenomenal experience will help to stop the
Wallabies’ second-half fade-outs. Deans, a squash fanatic who plays A
grade in Sydney, reckons Palmer is the man to solve the problem.
With the annual trans-Tasman series
locked at 1-1 last year, the Wallabies established useful leads over the
All Blacks in the third and fourth Bledisloe Cup Tests only to be
over-run in the closing quarter of an hour in both games.
Palmer is revered on the world squash
tour for his remarkable stamina, a quality Deans is hoping to instil in
the Wallabies in his second season in charge.
The idea of calling on his expertise
arose when former world No.1 Palmer gave Deans the runaround on court at
the Sydney Football Stadium complex.
For training, Palmer has been known to
complete the beep test - a torturous multi-phase fitness drill often
used by footballers - five times back-to-back with just a three-minute
break in between each.
"It's bloody hard, one of the hardest
things I've ever done physically and mentally," Palmer said.
"But that's what squash is all about;
it's about being pushed to your max and how fast you can recover and how
many times you can go to that breaking point and keep coming back."
Deans said some Palmer punishment was
just what his Wallabies needed.
"Teach them about perseverance; how do
you keep going when your legs are gone. That's what our blokes need to
learn," Deans told AAP.
"Staying composed when fatigue strikes.
It's a big advantage. The strength is minimising that recovery time.
"No doubt squash is actually one of the
better forms of conditioning for rugby because of the footwork and the
qualities David alluded to; perseverance, spatial awareness, mental
resilience - intimidation is a big part of it.
"There's nothing better. It's actually
great for defensive technique as well."
Palmer, who has done some work with NRL
heavyweights the Melbourne Storm, said he would love to assist the
Wallabies when there was a break in his schedule.
"Definitely," he said. "I follow the
Wallabies, the sports are similar: they're non-stop, there's no breaks,
it's up and down.
"There's so many different aspects to
squash. Its endurance, its speed, there's flexibility, there's tactics,
there's the mental side - the tactical intimidation.
"It's like playing chess at a million
miles an hour. It's not like other sports where you get time to think
about your shot. It's so fast it's such a reflex instinct type of game.
"Using the squash type of training in
rugby would be beneficial."
Derek Sword Trophy
The annual Derek Sword Trophy match takes
place next weekend with the London and New York teams heading for
Edinburgh Sports Club.
This year's fixture takes on a new
dimension with an International Hardball Doubles Challenge on the
doubles court at ESC. I am reliably informed by squash historian James
Zug that this is the only full-sized doubles court in Europe.
Needless to say the London team are
looking forward to doing their best against their more experienced
opponents from the US, where most clubs seem to have at least one
doubles court. My research across the pond reveals that the doubles
court is usually the busiest of all the courts at most clubs in North
Once again there will be a mixture of
abilities in this unique fixture, with the number one face-off likely to
be John Russell, now coaching in New York, against his old junior rival
Views And Opinions Expressed In This Column Are
Not Necessarily The Views Of
Squashplayer.co.uk or Squash Player Magazine
with your views or opinions
SPECIAL ON SQUASH 2016 DAY
Squash For 2016
Day is rapidly approaching, and a dedictate team of volunteers are busy
co-ordinating events in cities all over the world to maximise publicity
(and help the Bid Team to raise funds) as we approach the crucial vote
in Copenhagen later this year.
If any of you
don't know what Squash 2016 Day is, it's a special day on May 23rd when
squash lovers all over the world can unite in one global festival of fun
and activities to raise the profile of our sport and organise all kinds
of events to boost the Olympic bid.
target is to raise awarenesss of squash's Olympic bid in the four cities
bidding to host the 2016 Games, namely Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo.
want to see traffic-stopping events taking place in major cities all
over the globe, with squash lovers descending on major buildings and
iconic locations to have pictures taken of them waving their Squash For
website has been established for event organisers to upload forthcoming
news of their events, to share ideas for activities with the global
squash community, and then to upload reports and pictures of their
events as they happen on the big day.
That way we are
able to gather a massive collection of fantastic images which we will
then draw to the attention of the world media.
It's so simple
yet sadly the hard part is persuading some clubs, associations and even
national governing bodies to get involved and back the bid.
Here in the UK,
we are planning a day of action in London, meeting in Greenwich Park and
then moving upriver to the city to have pictures taken at locations
including the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Covent
Garden, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
If you would
like to bring along a group to join in, then please contact me at email@example.com
Please feel free
to download the banner and logo featured alongside this article to
create your own material.
events are being planned all over the world to support Squash For 2016
Day, and my old mate Wolfgang Denk from McWil Courts is busy planning a
special day in Austria. Every club in Viennna is holding an open day on
May 23rd, supported by the city authorities, and Wolfgang is very keen
to attract newcomers to the sport.
Andrius Voisnis is organising the SEB Arena Open for professional and
Over in the
States, some massive events are being planned in Chicago, Washington,
Los Angeles and New York, and we look forward to posting fuller details
in next week's column.
CAN YOU HELP?
If you want to
get involved, and can't find out who to talk to, then please drop me a
line at the email address listed above. Together we can do something
special for our sport.
PALMER’S POWER SHOW PROVES HE CAN STILL HANDLE LIFE AT THE TOP
First of all a big thank you to all those squash fans who have called or
emailed to say how much they enjoyed this year’s ISS Canary Wharf Squash
The sixth edition of the tournament was undoubtedly the best, with the
quality of squash reaching phenomenal levels for the sell-out crowds who
packed the superb East Wintergarden venue each evening.
David Palmer proved in his semi-final against Gregory Gaultier and in
the final against James Willstrop that he can still produce squash of
the highest calibre at the age of 32. His family move to Boston has
clearly given him a new lease of life and a continuing hunger to stay in
shape to compete with all the young bucks around him.
At one stage last year, probably during his transitional phase from
Europe to the USA, he showed signs of slowing down, but that is clearly
no longer the case.
He announced after his Canary Wharf success that he was looking forward
to a long summer holiday to rest his body but admitted that he will be
keeping his eye in by exploring the delights of hardball doubles at the
Boston University club, where he has clearly found a secure, welcoming
and comfortable new base.
Another senior citizen of the PSA Tour, Thierry Lincou, demonstrated the
same kind of quality and professionalism as Palmer the previous week to
reach the final of the ATCO Super Series Finals at Queen’s Club, where
he lost to his compatriot Gaultier.
Lincou was 33 on April 2 and he and Palmer share the same demands of
juggling family and fatherhood responsibilities with their commitment to
the major tournaments.
Lincou lost from 2-0 up at Canary Wharf to the rapidly improving
Spaniard Borja Golan and admitted that he was still feeling the effects
of a tough week at Queen’s. Golan, amazingly, won the final 10 points in
the fifth game from 4-1 down and it was no surprise to see him up to a
career-best 12th place in the latest rankings.
Willstrop, meanwhile, left Canary Wharf facing the prospect of an
operation to remove a bone spur on an ankle and still wondering how and
why he served out at 6-6 in the fourth game, having produced a massive
recovery after looking doomed to defeat after narrowly losing the
opening two games and trailing 6-1 in the third.
It was the first time that a Canary Wharf final had not gone to five
games but the crowd were fully appreciative of the efforts of both
players, and their ability to deliver such high quality entertainment at
the end of a tough week.
Both men had staged phenomenal recoveries to win their semi-finals,
Willstrop playing brilliantly to beat top seed Amr Shabana from 2-1 down
and Palmer fighting back from 2-0 down against Gaultier. With the
Frenchman winning the second game 11-1, you would have bet your house on
Gaultier winning the match.
Good job I’m no gambler, as I recently proved by wagering that Aston
Villa would finish above Arsenal in the Premier League table this
season, with the wager foolishly struck when Villa enjoyed an
eight-point advantage over the Gunners!
SQUASH FOR 2016: THE ENERGY
I am delighted to report some amazing efforts being made to stage
massive events all over the planet on May 23rd as squash enthusiasts
unite to support Squash For 2016 Day.
I can sense a genuine belief that some squash sceptics now believe our
sport has a real chance of being voted into the 2016 Olympic Games, and
events are taking place all over the world to support the bid and raise
funds for the process.
News reaches me of massive events being planned for Chicago, Washington,
London, Madrid and Manchester, with many more cities still to finalise
It is imperative that squash puts on a good show in the four cities
battling to stage the 2016 Games, namely Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo,
and I look forward to helping the latter two cities formulate their
plans to capture some valuable headlines.
Two Facebook groups have attracted more than 3,000 members, so please
log on to the World Squash Movement, where you can make an online
donation, and the Squash For 2016 Day group, where you can share ideas
for staging a spectacular day of action.
You can choose whether to host an exhibition day at your local club, or
take to the streets to organise traffic-stopping events and have the
Squash For 2016 banners photographed in front of iconic locations all
over the world.
Here in London, we are planning to meet near the Royal Greenwich
Observatory, and then head for the Dome and Canary Wharf, before moving
up-river to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, City Hall, the Globe
Theatre, Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, then carry on up my old
stamping ground in Fleet Street and on up the Strand to Covent Garden,
the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
We would love to have a collection of images unfolding throughout the
day, from the mountains of New Zealand, on to Sydney Harbour Bridge, the
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Taj Mahal, The Burj El Arab Hotel
in Dubai, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Great Pyramids, the Kremlin, St
Peter’s Square in Rome, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the White
House, and Niagara Falls – and every other major location in between.
Wharf following the PSA Super Series Finals in a bonanza of squash for
London fans, I was asked to contribute an article on squash to the
SportBusiness.com website. Permission was granted for us to reproduce
the article here.
SQUASH FIGHTING ON TWO FRONTS
As squash rallies hard
for a place in the 2016 Olympic Games, the sport is punching above its
weight as it seeks to outdo heavyweights like golf, rugby and baseball
in the build-up to the crucial IOC vote in Copenhagen in October.
Sports Illustrated ran
a poll in its last issue and rated squash as second favourite behind
golf to get the nod.
Squash may be viewed
by many as a minority sport, but the World Squash Federation claims that
the sport is played by more than 20 million players in 175 countries.
This is one of the seven Key Points at the heart of their Olympic bid.
Having sacked their
Chief Executive last year, the WSF surprised the squash fraternity by
making an ambitious appointment with an experienced marketing man, Scott
Garrett, being given the task to head up the Olympic bid.
To support the bid, a
massive global squash festival is taking place when Squash 2016 Day is
held on May 23 as clubs all over the world open their doors to promote
the sport and push the Olympic message.
Squash is still
smarting at missing out on the 2012 Olympics in London, where the sport
originated at Harrow School.
This week saw the
culmination of the PSA Super Series at Queen’s Club, followed by the ISS
Canary Wharf Classic, which takes place next week from March 23-27 and
is attracting sell-out crowds each night to the stylish East
This year’s Canary
Wharf tournament has attracted eight of the world top ten to one of the
game’s premier venues, which boats a jumbo screen above the front wall
of the glass court. A gallery restaurant and VIP Bar overlooking the
glass court make it an excellent model for corporate hospitality.
All of this paints a
rosy picture for professional squash, with major world ranking events
taking place on glass-courts in similarly stunning locations which
include New York’s Grand Central Station, Boston Symphony Hall, Hong
Kong Harbour, the historic St George’s Hall in Liverpool, and a
breathtaking open-air amphitheatre at the foot of the Great Pyramids in
Egypt. Plans have also been mooted to hold new events at Sydney Opera
House and Niagara Falls.
Sadly, all this is
against a backdrop of court closures and a resultant reduction in
participation numbers here in the UK.
A number of
entrepreneurs who helped to fashion the squash boom in the 70s and 80s
by building a wave of new clubs very quickly shut them down and sold
them off when rising property prices gave them a sound return on their
Another major problem
for squash has been the behaviour of predatory gym clubs. I went on to
BBC South-East TV a couple of years ago to complain about the “rape” of
our sport by the health and fitness chains who buy squash clubs and fill
the courts with treadmills or demolish them altogether to make room for
London has been hit
particularly hard, with iconic clubs disappearing one by one. The old
Wembley Squash Centre, scene of so many epic battles in the Jonah
Barrington era, was first to go, followed by the City Squash club off
Cannons Club, which
launched underneath the arches of Cannon Street Station with ten courts
and later added its own glass showcourt, has only three courts left.
Bromley Town, which once boasted 17 courts and a superb show court which
hosted two British Opens, has also had its heart ripped out by the
Cannons business machine and is left with five courts.
Last year saw the
disappearance of Lambs Club, described by squash legend Jahangir Khan as
the best club in the world. Despite the club’s 700 squash members
mounting a fierce campaign and lodging numerous protests against the
planning application, Islington Council finally swept them aside and
voted through plans to build a block of flats on the site.
Another fight rages as
the squash members at the nearby Sobell Centre battle with the same
local authority to prevent their courts disappearing. And so it goes on
as local councils chant the same mantra as the health chains in
demanding revenue per square metre instead of serving the needs of their
I fully understand the
business logic that tells me half a dozen gym machines might generate
more revenue per hour than two squash players occupying the same floor
space, but many other factors are overlooked by the number crunchers.
First of all, solitary
gym work is probably the most boring of any exercise activity known to
man and explains why so many members give up after a few weeks, meaning
that clubs have to employ a large sales team to pester local residents
to sign up.
Squash players, by
contrast, are extremely loyal and the average annual drop-off in
membership at many clubs is often less than 10 per cent.
squash members demand that the club becomes their social hub, so they
will spend more money over the bar than all your gym members combined.
Add a decent club shop and they will also buy their rackets, shoes and
squash clothing in-house.
As chairman of the
Kent SRA, I am mounting campaigns to build more courts all over the
county to replace a long list of defunct clubs, including Henwood at
Ashford (10 courts), Dreamland at Margate (6), Howdens in Beckenham
(10), Harveys (6) and the Y Centre (5) both in Maidstone.
The biggest scandal is
the Fitness First chain banning juniors from their premises. This has
resulted in a national under-13 champion from the Medway Towns being
banned from the local club where he learnt to play the game.
We are lobbying hard
with developers and local authorities to build new courts to counter
this corporate madness.
It would help if we
had someone in the UK like our friend Ziad Al Turki, the new PSA
Arabia, who has
bankrolled a number of major events and is playing a key role in the
Olympic bid. We need a figurehead like him who would be prepared to
invest in a chain of fitness clubs where squash was the primary sport,
or was at least encouraged to flourish alongside others without the
constant threat of court closures.
I have seen them in
Canada and the USA, and a few still survive here in the UK. Just look at
clubs like Abbeydale and Hallamshire in Sheffield. And the business
model works, as long as the management teams are not overcome with the
corporate greed that has brought the Western world to its knees in the
past few months.
BID GATHERS PACE
Squash's bid for a place in the
2016 Olympic Games continues to gather momentum. This week the Bid Team
appointed the London-based Juniper PR team to design and implement a
global media campaign to support the bidding process.
Five agencies were invited to
pitch for the business and Juniper clearly won the vote because of their
experience in the Beijing Olympic Bid and their involvement with the
Their initial contract is for
eight months leading up the crucial IOC vote in Copenhagen in October,
when squash will be fighting for an Olympic place alongside six other
The key messages of the Olympic
media campaign will the fact that squash is a truly global sport, played
by more than 20 million people in more than 175 countries, and that the
inclusion of the sport will be a low-cost addition to the Olympic
We wish Juniper well and look
forward to seeing them in action.
BEST AT CANARY WHARF
We will be delighted to welcome
the Juniper team to London's Docklands in March, where eight of the
world's top ten players will be competing in the ISS Canary Wharf
Each year there is a certain
air of nervousness around this time as the closing date for entries
comes round and you wonder which players will actually be pitching up.
This year we have struck lucky,
with Amr Shabana and Gregory Gaultier as the top two seeds in a superb
16-man draw brimming with quality.
The draw includes three former
world champions in Shabana, David Palmer (Australia) and Thierry Lincou
(France). If the seeding goes according to plan, the quarter-final
line-up reads as follows: Shabana v Nick Matthew; James Willstrop v
Lincou; Palmer v Wael El Hindi; Gaultier v Peter Barker.
As always, the quarter-final
tickets for the Wednesday night session are selling fast and just a
handful are still available at the time of writing.
My co-promoter Peter Nicol is
positively drooling at the quality of the draw and we are all looking
forward to a fantastic week of top-class squash in the superb
surroundings of the East Wintergarden at Canary Wharf, which is firmly
established as one of the sport's leading venues.
The Ticket Hotline is 0844 847
TREMENDOUS TRINITY STILL
Congratulations are extended
across the pond to the Trinity College squad and their coach Paul
Assaiante, who has again masterminded another unbeaten season in a
record which now stands at more than 200 matches.
Fending off the annual
challenge from the major Ivy League opponents such as Yale, Harvard and
Princeton is no mean feat, and to maintain such a staggering record has
helped to promote the image of squash not only within the college sports
fraternity but to a much wider audience as well.
Coach Assaiante has been at the
Trinity helm for 14 years and I was most impressed with his remarks to
the Hartford Courant when asked about the changes he had seen durting
"I have changed in that my
chest is now my waist and my legs are more bowed," he said. "In all
seriousness, I am profoundly humbled by the opportunity to be around the
best, the brightest, the hungriest and the most selfless group of
athletes in the college sport."
He added: "The college game is
the most dynamic entity in squash. Ten years ago, about 25 teams
participated in the College Nationals. This year, 56 will play. The bar
has been raised in profound ways and it has always been my goal to make
sure that when we lose, we do not slide back to the pack but rather that
the new champion overtakes us. The game of college squash has never been
Congratulations also to my old mate Martin Heath, who is clearly doing a
brilliant job with the students at Rochester, hoisting them from 10th in
2008 to third in the rankings following a 7-2 victory over Harvard.
It would be gratifying to see
the Trinity squad on tour over here in the UK. There is a clear message
here for many of our British universities, where excellent sports
facilities are often squandered or under-used because of the different
priorities in student lifestyles, and where squash courts are often
empty and unused.
12th March 2009
EYES ON LONDON
What a feast we have in store for squash
fans in London during the next fortnight, with the PSA Super Series
Finals breaking new ground at Queen’s Club, followed by the ISS Canary
Wharf Classic with eight of the world’s top ten players in action at the
I am looking forward to seeing the
developments being planned for the Super Series by Ziad Al Turki in
terms of staging the event and showcasing squash.
He is having a very positive effect on
the game right now with his involvement in the PSA and the Squash 2016
The campaign to make squash an Olympic
sport continues to attract support, much of it via the internet. Almost
1,000 fans have signed up to support the Squash 2016 Day page on
Facebook and the World Squash Movement has just launched its own page,
with the opportunity for squash fans all over the world to pledge
financial support to the Bid Fund.
These are exciting times for squash as we
seek to raise the profile of the sport and take it into new and
Natalie Grainger and Josh Schwartz are
spearheading the fund-raising campaign in the States and Josh told me
last week that the celebrated Sports Illustrated magazine had run a
feature which rated squash as second favourite to gain the vote for the
Meanwhile, it was good to see Natalie
able to take her mind off the number-crunching and concentrate on her
own squash last week in Malaysia, as she registered a major upset to
beat Nicol David in the final of the KL Open.
Peter Barker also warmed up nicely for
Canary Wharf by winning the men’s final, beating fellow Londoner and
fellow left-hander Adrian Grant.
The straight-games scoreline might
suggest a one-sided affair, but the time of the match, 52 minutes,
proves otherwise. Adrian is certainly playing well and recorded a
magnificent victory over David Palmer in the National League on Tuesday
Canary Wharf is a much closer venue for
Mr Barker, as he lives just down the road in Limehouse. Let’s hope he
brings plenty of friends along to cheer him on, but he’d better hurry as
tickets are going fast.
Still on the subject of Facebook, the
Virtual Squash game is becoming something of an online phenomenon, with
almost 6,000 registered players. I have noticed plenty of PSA and WISPA
members among the regular gamers, too, so if you fancy challenging some
of the world’s best players to a game in the comfort of your own home,
then go online and check it out.
LIKE A NIGHTINGALE
Good luck to Surrey star Phil
Nightingale, who is appearing on stage in Wimbledon next week, taking
the role of Judas in the Christian rock musical Godspell.
5th Mar 2009
GET ON BOARD FOR SQUASH 2016
With a high-profile team of Squash 2016 Ambassadors, we look forward to
a busy programme of Olympic-related events both at Canary Wharf and
leading up to World Squash Day, which is being rebranded as Squash 2016
Day and will be held on May 23.
Squash 2016 Day gives every national federation on the planet the
opportunity to join together in a worldwide festival of squash, and to
encourage their clubs to stage special events on one special day for the
sport. The aim is for every squash club on the planet to open its doors
to a wider public, show off our sport, involve the media to create
headlines all over the world, and encourage newcomers to participate and
join the fun.
An added bonus would be for events to raise revenue for the Squash 2016
Bid Fund as the process gathers momentum.
So why are some national federations slow to react and get involved?
In Kuala Lumpur this week, Nicol David announced that she is to become
an ambassador for Squash 2016. Nicol, who has been ranked No1 for three
years, highlighted how important the Olympic Games are to her, saying:
“For an athlete there is no higher pinnacle of sporting achievement than
an Olympic medal. No Malaysian has ever won a gold medal, and I would
like to be the first. Squash is really strong in Asia, and making it an
Olympic sport would give all Asian women something incredible to aim
The other new ambassadors for Squash 2016 are: Rebecca Chiu, Hong Kong’s
top female player; Siyoli Lusaseni, the South African star; Saurav
Ghosal, Indian No1; and Englishman Alister Walker, the African-born
winner of three PSA World Tour titles.
They are joining the initial three ambassadors: former world champion
Thierry Lincou (FRA); world number three and current World Open Champion
Ramy Ashour (EGY); and Samantha Teran, the first Mexican woman to earn a
world top 20 ranking.
Natalie Grainger, Squash 2016 Bid Team member and World No4, also spoke
at the press conference, saying: “Squash is a sport with worldwide
appeal, and the fact that the two top players in the world come from
Malaysia and Egypt mean that as a sport we can help take the Olympic
Games into countries that don’t typically produce Olympians."
WE'LL ALL MISS WHITEY
Tickets are selling out fast for the ISS Canary Wharf Classic. With
eight of the world's top ten on board it's sure to provide a feast of
fantastic squash. The one disappointment is that the brilliantly
entertaining but now-retired John White will be missing. However, we can
all console ourselves by looking at some amazing highlights clips on
YouTube from the final two years ago, when he played four five-setters
in consecutive days and was still hurling himself around like a maniac
as he went down to James Willstrop in an amazing final.
SQUASH IS BEST FOR
I was intrigued to read in the latest WISPA Bulletin some fascinating
facts about squash's calorie-burning potential.
If we need any more evidence about how healthy squash is as a sport
(take note IOC and sponsors!) according to WISPA we head the
calorie-burning league table for indoor sports (per hour) by a distance:
1 Squash (816)
2 Kick Boxing (680)
3 Basketball (544)
4 Volleyball (544)
5 Indoor Rowing (476)
6 Fencing (408)
7 Badminton (306)
8 Table Tennis (272)
RICHMOND PICTURE SHOW SET
Patricia Lyons has emerged as another gifted professional in the niche
market of squash photography. Her pictures from last week's North
American Open in Richmond, Virginia, were superb examples of the genre.
Now you can see her favourite images from the tournament, set to music,
by clicking on the following link:
5th February 2009
BELL TOLLS FOR RINGERS
Few things in squash cause more
controversy, consternation and grief than the big debate over whether to
pay your players to represent the club in your local county league.
Bringing in professional guests,
otherwise known as ringers, is a common occurrence throughout the world
At county league level, clubs often
scramble around to find the necessary cash to strengthen their first
teams in the hunt for success.
In the old days it was called boot money,
a phrase borrowed from football when the better so-called amateur
players found their boots stuffed with fivers after a match. In squash,
players were often paid on the quiet by a club owner who wanted to
attract more spectators to watch the team matches and spend more money
over the bar during the process. Let's call them Club A. If the bar
revenue was higher than the player's "expenses" then everyone at Club A
Often the arrival of a professional
player at number one produces a "banker" result and, with everyone in
the side moving down a notch as a result of his arrival, Club A will
often be stronger at every string..
However, things can get complicated once
other clubs try the same thing. If Club B suddenly brings in two guest
players the following season, then Club A will have to respond in kind
to try to hang on to their title.
A year later, Club C and D might scratch
around to find the cash for a ringer or two of their own, so it's
game-on at the top of the league. However, not every club wishes to
engage in the process and friction often develops between the payers and
In extreme circumstances, some clubs have
been so desperate for success that they have brought in a whole team of
ringers. They might well "buy" their local league title, but many of the
results will have been hollow victories with professionals easily
brushing aside genuine club players in the process.
Most squash enthusiasts enjoy the
prospect of watching the best quality squash available to them, and the
prospect of watching two well-matches pros will usually attract a bigger
audience than normal.
However, having been on the receiving end
of some monstrous thumpings when up against sides fielding pros in
clearly mismatched fixtures, and also played in teams boosted by the
often surprise inclusion of occasional guests, I wish to offer one or
two observations on the matter.
First of all, most leagues are run by
county associations whose constitutions will often state that teams are
made up of genuine, bona fide, fee-paying club members.
We can get round that one by finding a
generous benefactor to pay their membership fees, but not all clubs
bother to observe such niceties.
Legacy is a word often associated with
the London Olympics and the long-term benefits of pouring billions of
pounds into a large hole in the ground in East London.
On a slightly smaller scale, you often
wonder what the benefits are, or legacy, of bringing in a group of pros
to play in what is essentially a club competition. If they attract
spectators, increase bar revenues, get on court with the club juniors,
and prove an inspiring presence in the fabric of the club, then clearly
they are justifying their fees
If, however, there is no interaction with
the juniors and no long-term "legacy" then you might question the wisdom
of a club's investment.
I have seen it happen countless times all
over the country when clubs find they can no longer afford to pay the
pros to turn out. The players usually walk out en masse, leaving an
enormous vacuum behind.
There is one final point I wish to make.
There is already a competition in existence for clubs fielding teams of
five professionals playing against other teams of five professionals.
It's called the National League. England Squash will happily supply you
with further details.
22nd January 2009
VIAGRA FOR VETS
Last weekend I had to
reluctantly turn down an invitation to play for the Kent Over-50s as
illness depleted the squad ahead of the National Inter-County age-group
finals at the Hunts County Club. Fortunately various members of the
squad clambered off their sickbeds to make the journey to Hunts and
retain their national title.
I couldn't play last weekend,
and still can't, because of a bizarre neck injury. I must be one of the
few sportsmen to injure himself while falling asleep, but it's true.
Nodding off in front of the telly, my head suddenly lolloped backwards
and I suffered what can only be termed as severe whiplash injuries (I
can guarantee that no Miss Whiplash was involved in the proceedings,
unlike some our friends in the world of Formula One).
I tried playing on with the
injury, and was OK until my opponent lobbed me, which caused me to twist
my neck with extremely painful consequences.
It does seem odd that the older
we get, we succumb to the most ridiculous and embarrassing injuries.
Generally speaking, age-group
competitions keep squash players fit, healthy and active beyond the
age-range of many other sports.
Therefore I was interested to
read an article from the States about senior athletes now using Viagra
to boost their sporting performances.
I am sure most of are aware of
the primary uses for Viagra, in delivering a blood supply to parts of
the body where it is most needed, but it has other life-enhancing uses,
which apparently give athletes an unfair advantage over other
competitors. Hence a group of lacrosse students in Philadelphia have
been recruited by a major anti-doping organisation for a series of
The article, in the New York
Times, states: "The Marywood study does not involve the bedroom, but the
playing field. It is being financed by the World Anti-Doping Agency,
which is investigating whether the diamond-shaped blue pills create an
unfair competitive advantage in dilating an athlete's blood vessels and
unduly increasing oxygen-carrying capacity. If so, the agency will
consider banning the drug."
Viagra, or sildenafil citrate,
was devised to treat pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in
arteries of the lungs. The drug works by suppressing an enzyme that
controls blood flow, allowing the vessels to relax and widen. The same
mechanism facilitates blood flow into a certain part of the anatomy to
help cure male impotence. In the case of athletes, increased cardiac
output and more efficient transport of oxygenated fuel to the muscles
can enhance endurance.
"Basically, it allows you to
compete with a sea level, or near-sea level, aerobic capacity at
altitude," said Kenneth W. Rundell, the director of the Human
Performance Laboratory at Marywood, where the tests are being conducted.
Before Viagra is banned by the
anti-doping agencies, it might be worth asking the Kent-based Pfizer
company, which manufactures the drug and claims that nine Viagra pills
are dispensed every second worldwide, if it might consider sponsoring
our Over-50s team. A logo of the blue pill would stand out nicely on the
team's light blue shirts.
However, I wonder if this might
lead to compulsory drug testing one day for all of our age-group
The side effects might be
15th January 2009
By ALAN THATCHER
The world of squash bade farewell yesterday to Ian
Wright, one of the most respected administrators in the history of the
than 300 mourners packed into the Hither Green Crematorium in South
London for a service of thanksgiving, and then reconvened just a few
miles away afterwards at Ian's beloved Bexley Tennis, Squash and
Friends from far and wide gathered to pay their tributes and last
respects to a man who served as Kent county secretary for more than 40
years, and who invented the British version of racketball.
and laughter were in equal measure during the service of thanksgiving,
presided over with grace and humour by the Rev Steve Browning. Club
president Neil Badger delivered a word-perfect reading before welcoming
everyone back to the Bexley club.
daughter Dee courageously spoke with love, warmth and humour about the
man who was a beloved Dad to her and sister Sally. Dee regaled the
gathering with tales of Ian's little idiosyncrasies, and especially a
dress sense that had little in common with the family's tailoring
Badger spoke again, as a lifelong friend and club colleague who worked
with Ian on transforming the Bexley club with a superb new pavilion that
two extra squash courts. Sadly, it was on one of those courts that Ian
passed away, suffering a heart attack on January 4 as he played the game
he loved and surrounded by friends.
Yesterday that same court was filled with photographs and memorabilia
from Ian's life, including his travels (he was in the Guinness Book of
Records for being one of a handful of people to have visited 192
countries in the world), his RAF career and his achievements in sports.
life story was contained within the four walls of that court (walls that
he insisted the builders remove at first when he discovered that they
had used the wrong breeze blocks) and fittingly a book of condolence was
placed in the centre of the court for visitors to add their personal
manager Nick Eagles was almost overcome with emotion as he thanked the
group of members who had worked so hard to prepare the club for such a
moving but joyous occasion.
delighted to speak on behalf of the Kent SRA and to announce that
England Squash will be naming the National Racketball Championship
trophies for men and women in his honour. The Kent SRA plans to do
inaugurate a similar honour for the county championships in both squash
such gatherings great things can emerge as friends swap stories and
hatch plans to remember someone who gave so much to the sports he loved.
conversation resulted in the launch of an annual fixture in Ian's honour
between the Veterans' Club of Great Britain and the Kent Vets, the
fixture including, of course, both squash and racketball.
daughters Sally and Dee both remarked, Ian would have thoroughly enjoyed
himself yesterday, laughing and smiling with so many friends.
such a shame he couldn't be there. He would have loved it.
A TRIBUTE FROM ALAN THATCHER
CHAIRMAN, KENT SRA
Wright was secretary of the Kent Squash and Racketball Association for
more than 40 years.
met Ian almost 30 years ago during an inter-county weekend tournament at
managing the Kent team and they were a man short against Yorkshire, I
believe, and so Ian donned his kit (probably wearing the same pair of
shorts that Dee referred to) and duly suffered a 9-0, 9-0, 9-0 defeat.
result was not the important thing. The important thing was Ian’s sense
of duty, respect and fair play.
have hated the idea of a senior Kent team under his management being a
man short and knew it would have seemed disrespectful to the opposition.
is a quality that Ian attracted in abundance.
past two weeks the Kent SRA has been inundated with tributes to Ian from
throughout the world of squash.
have poured in from so many of Ian’s friends and colleagues at the
national governing body, England Squash, from neighbouring counties,
far-flung counties, and from many other national and international
federations. All of them have been published on the Kent website, where
we are planning to host a special section dedicated to Ian.
message has spoken movingly of Ian’s loyalty and dedication to squash
and racketball, his encyclopaedic knowledge of the sports he loved, and
his willingness to help other officials, from other counties and
federations, whenever he could.
Squash have decided upon a fitting tribute to Ian by naming the national
men’s and women’s racketball trophies in Ian’s honour. Here in Kent, we
are doing the same with both the county squash and racketball
championships to honour Ian’s enormous contribution as county secretary.
he wasn’t just secretary. Ian also took on the treasurer’s role two
years ago. He was also treasurer for the Kent Junior League. He
organised tournaments, he compiled the county handbook, and produced
similar publications for various other federations. He organised
coaching courses. He held refereeing courses. He invented the British
version of racketball and would be delighted to see the moves currently
being made by England Squash to encourage clubs and counties to promote
racketball on a massive scale. But most of all he was always at the end
of a telephone if you needed help or advice.
the least glamorous roles in sports administration is the collection of
subscriptions, and especially the annual subs from the clubs.
year the same handful of clubs were always the last to pay, and sadly
Maidstone was always one of them.
becoming Kent chairman, this became something of a personal issue
because Ian would always try to enlist my support, as a Maidstone
member, to elicit an earlier payment.
year I would be copied in on letters and emails as Ian doggedly pursued
the Maidstone club for payment.
in Mike Sofianos, the Maidstone treasurer, Ian met someone as equally
determined to run a tight ship and manage his affairs in his own unique
style. The cheque always arrived, but it was nearly always the last to
know that Ian would be greatly amused to hear the news that our new Kent
county treasurer is none other than Mike Sofianos, from Maidstone.
sure that Ian, of all people, would hope that Mike continues in the same
stubborn, frugal style of financial management as he handles the
Ian’s passing, on these courts, playing the game he loved, we at Kent
Squash and Racketball have had to begin the process of recruiting a
whole new team of volunteers to do the many tasks Ian carried out so
diligently, so enthusiastically and so professionally – and sometimes
rather grumpily - for so many years.
and Pat, Sally and Dee, and all other family members, go our profound
bless you and take care of you.
salute you and thank you.
8th January 2009
OF SQUASH MOURNS IAN WRIGHT,
The phone has not stopped ringing all
week as squash friends from all over the world have made contact to
express their sadness at the passing of squash administrator Ian Wright.
Ian was Kent county secretary for more
than 40 years and his contribution to squash in general was nothing
short of phenomenal.
In a recent email, after he and his wife
Judy had returned from a holiday in Australia, Ian remarked that the
dates of their trip meant that he had been forced to miss the AGM of
England Squash for the first time since 1962!
During the squash boom in the 1970s and
1980s Ian was extremely busy helping to promote squash as a genuine
sport and not just another trendy fitness fad. He held courses all over
Europe in coaching, refereeing and marking, and also advised clubs and
associations on court design, how to organise competitions and what
equipment to buy.
He was a walking squash encyclopedia and
so many people have described him as "indestructible".
He was hugely influential in the
development of racketball and it was a bitter-sweet irony that he
suffered a heart attack on Sunday while competing in the Bexley club's
racketball championships at the age of 74. He was national over 70s
racketball champion two years ago and it is heartening to learn that
England Squash have pledged to provide a lasting memorial to Ian in the
Ian's funeral will be held at Hither
Green on Thursday, January 22 at 11.30 a.m. and a host of friends from
Kent Squash, England Squash, neighbouring counties and overseas nations
are expected to attend.
A minute's silence will be held during
the Kent County Closed Championships at The Mote Squash Club next
weekend (January 16-18) and I know that my colleagues on the Kent
committee, who are all devastated by Ian's sudden and dramatic departure
from our lives, are intent on providing fitting memorials in both squash
As Kent SRA chairman, I am in the process
of finding a team of volunteers to take over the many roles Ian
undertook on behalf of Kent squash and racketball, and I wonder if we
will ever see his like again.
Tribute to Ian D Wright
The European Squash
Federation was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death
of Ian Wright on Sunday, 4 January.
Ian had a long
association with the European Squash Federation, acting as Custodian of
Records from 1977 (shortly after the European Squash Rackets Federation,
as it was at that time, was founded in 1973), combining this with the
role of Secretary from 1979 to 1997 and the role of Treasurer from 1993
to 1996. In 1997, in recognition of his valued contributions and
commitment to the organisation and also in recognition of his
contribution to squash generally, Ian was awarded the status of Honorary
Member of the European Squash Federation.
No-one could fail to be
impressed by his dedication to squash and he will be missed by us all.
thoughts are with his family.
European Squash Federation
like to thank all the people who are writing so beautifully about Ian
I was married to Ian for twenty years and am the mother of Sally and
Dee. We are so sad and so proud. We hope to meet some of you at the
With grateful thanks
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