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British Open: The Big Chris Walker Comeback story...
Nice Guys don't Finish Last By Ron Beck
Chris Walker, who has reached as high as #4 in the world and led the British teams in past years, had seen his career on the wane for the past several seasons. But in a startling and dramatic turnaround, Chris Walker has parlayed a long sojourn away from squash to tour the world into a brilliant comeback that has taken him to the finals of the British Open this weekend.
What a wonderful story it would be if Walker could win the final and become the first English winner since James Dear. It was really Peter Nicol who everyone had expected to see in this spot, but Walker has quietly moved from upset to upset, leading him to Sunday's finals in the NIA Hall.
Walker, who for several seasons was Peter Nicol's constant sparring partner and tournament companion, had with grace and smiling demeanor let the talented Nicol garner all the attention and accolades while Walker quietly helped Nicol prepare and made friends at every tour stop.
Walker, an outgoing ambassador for squash and generally all around nice guy, has seen over the past 24 months his position in every main draw eroded to a qualifier's lot. With no fanfare, Walker, who also publishes an occasional electronic newsletter and was the first pro to develop his own personal website, took 9 months off the tour to travel the world with his girlfriend.
Walker, who sees the USA as the future of squash, signed up with American racket manufacturer Black Knight as a sponsor and markets his own racket, the "Walker's Weapon. Walker has also concentrated for the past year and a half on conducting exhibitions across the USA and developing a series of USA based adult squash camps, this year in Santa Barabara California.
But, Chris has shown, he's not ready to hang up his competitive racket yet. In a stunning series of preformances this week, Walker used his immense experience and his freshness to bring strategy, focused play, and determination, to his run through first the qualifiers and then the main draw to reach, the British Open Finals.