|SquashTalk>Features>Player of the Month>July 2001 Hiddy Jahan|
By Martin Bronstein
Never mind your Hashims and your Jahangirs and your Janshers; when it comes to British Open titles, Hiddy Jahan is king.
He has amassed 16 British Open titles: Six over 35s, five over 40s, three over 45s and two over 50s. Nobody in squash comes close to that total. The giant Hiddyat Jahan Khan, now 51 years old and still winning titles, is also known for his longevity. Considering the fuss that was made when 34 year old Chris Walker reached this year's British Open final, we should remember that Hiddy played Jahangir in the final of the British Open when he was 32.
He was still ranked in the world top 16 when he was 39 years old, the year he reached the quarter-finals of the British Open and won the over 35's. In 1991 he went one better when he won both the over 35 and over 40 titles after losing to Jansher in the second round of the main draw.
The famous Jahan temper was aroused the next year when the SRA changed the rules and would not allow a player to enter more than one draw. Since then he has been entering one draw and winning the titles with comparative ease.
I spoke to him at the Bath and Rackets Club in London, one of the plushest, best equipped clubs I have ever seen --- Persian carpets on the floor of the gym and green marble in the showers. Hiddy is there three days a week from noon, giving high-priced coaching to members who pay $4,500 a year for the privilege of membership - and still have to pay court fees. He has two assistants to deputise on his days off. Hiddy is cutting down to two days a week to concentrate on his golf. With his reputation as a hard hitter in squash, what are the bets on 300 yards?
WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT YOUR DREADFUL ACCIDENT WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?
It was in1967, I was 17 years old and the best junior in the country: I was stuffing all the others. I went to the Pakistan team trials in Peshawar but was not invited to the final trials that were in Karachi. There was a lot of politics: you were a Pathan or a Punjabi. Suddenly I got a phone call to report to Karachi the next morning, a 24 hour train journey away. I had to borrow the money and got a third class train ticket. I got out at one station to stretch my legs. It was 3:00 AM and then the train started to leave the station. I couldn't get in because of the crush... So I am hanging on and the train is moving... And a signal hits me on the back of the head and a steel rod went into my thigh. I was thrown on to the track. Luckily it was the last carriage - otherwise I was gone. I didn't know what hit me. The next thing I knew I was in hospital in an area I did not know. Luckily the police Inspector General was a friend of the family, he put out a search party to find why I had not arrived in
Karachi. When I was found I was taken to Karachi for the trials! I have a passport picture of me with the bandage around my head. I still played in the trials and lost to Gaugi Alaudin 9-6, 9-6, 9-6. And when I got home I contracted typhoid fever. I had 105 penicillin injections. The injury had affected my eyesight and I got more into playing badminton. Eventually the eye cleared up. And the second time I should have been in the Pakistan team I was dropped because of politics; the chairman of the organisers had a son, whom I had beaten, so he was selected and I was told 'You are young enough to be selected next time.' That sort of thing.
WHO WERE YOUR
NOW WE COME TO
YOUR SIZE. MOST PAKISTANI PLAYERS WERE ABOUT 5'8" AND 120 POUNDS. YOU'E SIX
FEET BUT YOUR BROTHER ZARAK IS A FOOT SHORTER
those years. That injury put me out for six months. I was about 39 years old and I said 'That's it, that's enough it's time to quit'. I told my brothers that if I had to qualify for a tournament, I wouldn't go. I don't have to prove anything anymore. I enjoy my squash now, being in the seniors and seeing old friends and old faces and having a good laugh. I play in the German seniors league. This weekend I had a match in the evening and lost 10-9 in the fifth to an over 35 player; next morning I beat another Over 35 player 3/0 and was tired as hell. Then the same day I had to play Uwe Peters [the losing finalist in this year's British Open Over 35 tournament] and lost. Three matches in 24 hours is hard at 51.
WHY DO YOU KEEP
IS THERE GOING
TO BE A CUT-OFF POINT?
I remember two or three years ago Jahangir was trying to put together a Seniors tournament but couldn't get the sponsorship.
WHEN YOU WATCH
A TOP PRO MATCH NOW, DO YOU SEE A FASTER GAME OR A MORE ATTACKING GAME?
HOW DO YOU FEEL
ABOUT THE TWO SCORING SYSTEMS?
WHO WAS THE BEST
SHOT PLAYER YOU EVER SAW?
WHAT ABOUT ROSHAN
a feel. When I teach I say: 'when you are going for a drop shot, you don't hammer it. Put feel into it, like you're cuddling your girl friend. That's what Roshan and Azam used to do. Another great stroke player was Mohibullah Senior, the one who died in Boston. He could hit that ball! I was known as a hard hitter, but he could really hit it. And he was quick. He was playing a final against Roshan. He would hit the ball, drop his racket on the floor deliberately and somersault and then get the ball back no matter where Roshan put it.
YOU MUST HAVE
BEEN UPSET THAT THERE WAS NOT ONE PAKISTANI PLAYER IN THE BRITISH OPEN MAIN
GOING AROUND THE
CLUBS AND WATCHING HACKERS LIKE ME, WHAT IS THE COMMON ERROR?
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