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the Master in Edmonton

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Fitz-Gerald the Master
August 4, 2005
by Ryan Barnett, SquashTalk Independent News Service © 2005 





Five Time World Champ Fitz-Gerald Surfaces in Canada

Junior and five time Women’s World Open Squash Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald
has added another two titles to her resume. In the recently completed
World Masters Games held July 22-31st in Edmonton, Alberta Canada Fitz-Gerald
mowed through the field in women’s singles competition surrendering
a total of only 11 points. She also took the Teams title along with mates
Bob Ballinger and Jamie Crombie. For Fitz-Gerald this recent visit to
Canada provided the perfect opportunity to see some old friends and have
fun at the same time. A brief stop-over in Calgary provided the perfect
opportunity for me to get her thoughts on the event, discuss in greater
detail her decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games, and future

Sarah Fitz-Gerald: "… I really
enjoyed myself … "

photo © Debra Tessier

So how was Edmonton? I guess you could say you’ve now won eight
World Titles?

Fitz: (Laughs) It was good a time. Winning these titles are very different
from what I was used to because the atmosphere was fun, there was low
intensity, not as competitive, and I was also playing on a mixed team.
I knew the World’s were in Edmonton and had some discussions with
Bob Ballinger and decided I would play if I was in the area. I was set
on just playing the Teams then decided that seeing how I was already there
I would play the singles as well. This was actually my 2nd Masters event
the first being the Victorian Open and I really enjoyed myself as going
ended up being a real positive experience. For the most part my opponents
had traveled a long way so I played with good spirit and focused on giving
them a good run. Being a past professional who trained for squash I was
mainly up against amateurs and club players.

The detractors will look at this and say that it’s unfair for such
a skilled player to be competing against amateurs. How much fun or satisfaction
do you get beating someone 27-0?

Sarah Fitz-Gerald: "… I get
satisfaction from giving my amateur opponent a good fun game … "
photo © 2005 Debra Tessier

Fitz: I get satisfaction from giving my amateur opponent a good fun game
where they can feel the difference in my ability and there’s and
learn from it. Many of my opponents enjoy saying that they were on the
court and played a match with a former World Champion. To the detractors
I say simply that I retired from professional squash NOT the sport of
squash. I have every right to play events that do not constitute a world
ranking. Events like league, local tournaments and future Masters Events
should I so choose.

Well said. I read a story a few weeks back about your decision to
withdraw from the Commonwealth Games and the first paragraph said it was
a “lack of motivation” which was the major factor. What’s
the real deal?

Fitz: I retired from professional squash on top, on my terms. I accomplished
everything I set out to do. My initial decision to participate in the
Commonwealth Games was made solely on the fact that they are being held
in Melbourne my home town so I made myself available. I retired from pro
squash because I was tired of all the training all the travel and also
the pressure. Not playing the Commonwealth Games has nothing to do with
a lack of motivation. Representing one’s country is one of the greatest
achievements an athlete can have. When I announced my decision not to
participate I had just broken my toe and at this stage in my life I see
my squash going in a different direction and stand by the reasons just
given. Simply put I have moved on.

Different direction?

"…I want to get more involved
in coaching …" photo © Fritz Borchert

Fitz: The next phase of my life has me working on my Level II coaching
certificate as I want to get more involved in coaching and give back to
the sport of squash. I’ve been asked to be a commentator at the
Commonwealth Games and am quite excited about that as well. I have so
many fond memories from my playing days, continue to love the sport, and
will still be involved through exhibitions, promotions and with coaching
will remain part of the squash scene.

for participation in future Masters tournaments. If I’m near an
event, want to play, in condition, then I might. Honestly at this stage,
I’ll play when and where I want as I don’t see myself tripping
around the world chasing Masters Tournaments. I’m enjoying life
and leave Friday for a camp at Williams College in the U.S. followed by
a week in Toronto with Mike Way and then it’s off to England.

Peter Nicol Squash CD Interactive Coaching

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