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Squash
& Tennis – A Personality Comparison

 

Finding
Personality Matches: The Tennis and Squash Stars

Nick Matthew and Stefan Edberg.
top photo © 2006 Debra Tessier

For
many years Squash has always lived in the shadow of Tennis,
its financially richer, higher-profile cousin.

In
the ‘golden
era’ of Tennis, stars such as John McEnroe, Bjorn
Borg and Chris Evert became household names performing before
huge arena and television audiences. Not only were we familiar
with them as Tennis players, they became celebrities known the
world over and some even became cultural icons.

We
knew their interests and private lives and they played a
central role in making Tennis the huge media sport it is
today.

Although
Squash has yet to make that quantum leap into the mainstream
and into the awareness of the general public it is not short
on personalities to compare to the Tennis legends of the
past.

Here
are the current top 10 players on this month’s
PSA Men’s World
rankings and their Tennis equivalents:

10.
Nick Matthew(ENG) – Stephan
Edberg

Englishman Nick Matthew uncannily exhibits Stephan Edberg’s
quiet gentlemanly demeanor. Along with similar elegant ‘textbook’ technique,
Nick has hovered beneath top five and has proven he is capable
of reaching the very top with several PSA final appearances to
add to his recent British Nationals win.

He
is also young enough that he has the time and potential to
become as much a legend as the great Swede.

9.
John White(SCO) – Andre Agassi

John White and Andre Agassis.
top photo © 2006 Debra Tessier

Both
John White and Andre Agassi are flamboyant characters.

White’s
game features devastating rally-ending kill-shots. He executes
them with similar ease with which Agassi would powerfully return
130mph serves.

Both
John and Andre possess a gene that all mere mortals lack and
that is a natural ability to coordinate and time their stroke
perfectly.

We
all know that Andre’s game underwent a superb
renaissance during the latter part of his career.

Does
this mean we may see John White back at the #1 spot once again?!

8.
Lee Beachill(ENG)- Jim Courier

Fair complexions, blue-eyed and unshaven, both players characterize
great models of consistency in both match results and playing
style, adopting for a more tough attritional approach.

When
not exhibiting skills with the Squash racket, away from the court
both Lee and Jim are fanatical guitar players!

7.
Peter Nicol(ENG) – Bjorn Borg

Peter Nicol will retire at the end of this season as the most
successful Squash player of the modern era.

Bjorn
Borg up to his retirement had achieved the exact same status.
Both players conducted themselves with exemplary behavior,
they never questioned an official’s call and when competing
exuded an ice calm persona.

Both
Peter and Bjorn’s reputations
were so great that many opponents were beaten men even before
a ball was hit.

Peter
recently even introduced a carbon-copy image of Borg, growing
his hair shoulder length long and sporting that famous toweling
headband!

6.
Anthony Rickets(AUS)- Jimmy Connors

Anthony Ricketts and Jimmy
Connors.
top photo © 2006 Debra Tessier

Anthony Ricketts of Australia is fast developing a reputation
as being one of the toughest and fiercest competitors on the
tour.

Slowly
maturing, he has managed to temper some early petulance and
naivity with little more charm and wit.

With
HIS hyperactive energy and a never-say-die attitude, Anthony
looks set to emulate Connors as one of the games most charismatic
of characters.

5.
James Willstrop(ENG)- Boris Becker

Boris Becker burst onto the tennis scene as a teenager and won
Wimbledon at his first attempt.

England’s James Willstrop
has impacted squash in just the same manner with a fresh, creative
style of play progressing deep into major tournaments when
still as a junior.
Both amazingly agile for big guys, James will become a more and
more imposing figure as he matures and look set to become as
much an icon as the German.

4.
Thierry Lincou(FRA) – Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras quietly climbed his way to the top, his progress
overshadowed by other more outgoing tennis personalities on
the scene. Thierry Lincou has become a similar figure holding
the #1 spot for the best part of last year, quietly getting
on with each event and reaching finals with the minimum amount
of fuss.

Thierry
is a serious but nice guy, and, whose achievements when all
said and done will be more significant than most observers
would give him credit for.

3.
Amr Shabana(EGY)- Ilie Nastase

Don’t worry, Amr … we’re not talking about Nastase’s temper tantrums …
it’s simply that Nastase always seemed to be out there just for the love
of the game. A sporting journalist once said he loved Ilie Nastase the
most out all the top Tennis players because “he
just doesn’t
give a damn”.

This
quote too, aptly describes Egypt’s
Amr Shabana.

Like
Nastase, Shabana is a great entertainer with the most dangerous
arsenal of attacking shots of all the pros,some of which are
executed from the craziest of situations in the court.

There
has always been unpredictability as to how well Amr would perform,
reflected in tournament wins one week then first round exits
the next, though his predicability has grown immensely in the
past year.

Whenever
Amr is “on”,
no-one can stop him. And he may well be the next #1 …

2.
David Palmer(AUS) – Ivan Lendl

Jonathon Power and John
McEnroe.
top photo © 2006 Debra Tessier

Meticulous,
that’s one word that describes tough Australian
David Palmer.
Like Lendl in his day, Palmer’s training program leaves
nothing uncovered from stamina and speed, to flexibility and
diet and, probably most important of all, psychology.

A
thorough student of the game David is without doubt the best
prepared Squash player of them all.

Also,
behind a somewhat stern exterior there lies a much more likeable
person than most people are aware.

1.
Jonathan Power (Can) – John McEnroe

Undoubtedly the most obvious pairing, both sportsmen share almost
every character trait, so much so, they might have been father
and son!

Love
him or loathe him, one just has to watch a Jonathan Power match
as something almost always happens. Walking a fine line between
madness and genius he would make opponents look like fools
on one day, but could incredibly self-destruct the next with ‘McEnroe-esque’ like
tantrums.

Both
anti-establishment figures, JP and JM play two sports that
are essentially upper middle class sports.

Possessing
natural racket skills and ‘radar-like’ tactical
awareness, their playing success and charisma have immeasurably
raised the profile of their sports in their respective countries.

Although
brash and outspoken, it’s another interesting
co-incidence that both players have become involved in the media
world serving as insightful match commentators.
Arguably Squash and Tennis will may never see such colorful characters
such as Power and McEnroe ever again.

At the time of writing this article, Jonathon Power announced
his retirement from professional Squash.

 

Jason
Hicks is a squash professional at the University Club of Boston,
MA USA.

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