15, 2002, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. © 2002 SquashTalk
All photos © 2002,
by Debra Tessier, squashphotos.com
to be a good age for Australians. Anthony Ricketts has suddenly
jumped up the rankings to enter the top ten and in the US Open,
he knocked out John White, world number five. The same happened
to Stewart Boswell a year ago, when he was 23. And according to
Rodney Martin, who has had a say in Ricketts’ career for the
last six year, Ricketts is now in the position that Boswell was
a year ago.
Ricketts started squash
in Sydney, where his mother managed some squash courts together with
Geoff Roberts, who was to become Rickett’s first coach. Up until
the age of nine he was soccer and tennis mad, but from the moment his
mother put a squash racquet in his hand, he had found his metier. “I
was on the court four hours a day, I just loved it,” he remembers.
Despite initial misgivings about living in England, Ricketts has now
made his base in Yorkshire and trains with Lee Beachill and Adrian Grant
on a regular basis.
His game was one of cracking
drives and speed (not to mention intemperate verbal outbursts) but over
the last three months he has learned to mix his pace with finely weighted
shots to the back (and also to control bother temper and tongue).
spends a few moments with Anthony Ricketts at the US Open
He has some devastating winners
in his armory which gives him the valuable advantage of putting
an end to a rally when the opportunity presents itself. He is also,
according to Rodney Martin, one of the fittest men on the circuit.
In the last year he
has beaten Ong Beng Hee, Martin Heath, Joseph Kneipp, Graham Ryding,
Thierry Lincou and Mark Chaloner, all ranked above him. In the Pakistan
Open in March he led Peter Nicol 7-5 in the fifth before losing
12-15. Five months later in Hong Kong he led world number three
David Palmer two games to love before losing in five. Last October
he was ranked 28th in the world; in September he had jumped to number
10. Anthony Ricketts has arrived.
He is an affable guy, with
a ready quip and a quick laugh. He’s easy to talk to and opened
up readily for this interview with Martin Bronstein soon after he had
beaten John White in Boston.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST
TITLE YOU WON?
I won the Under 11 New South Wales Junior title and my first national
was the Under 15 national championship. I went right through juniors
with Stewart Boswell but he was always year ahead of me. He’d
win a title and then move up a group and I would win it the next year.
HOW LONG WERE YOU
AT THE AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF SPORT?
I went into the AIS when I was 15 where I also did my last two years
of schooling. After two years Stewart and I went on the circuit
together, that was in 1997, the year after we represented Australia
in the world junior championships in Cairo. I went to the Institute
because when I went to tournaments I saw the way the guys from the
Institute played and I realized that it would make a lot of difference
to my game if I went. It was the best thing that ever happened to
HOW WAS LIFE WHEN YOU
FIRST WENT ON THE CIRCUIT?
I spent more time in England than at home and at that stage I did
not enjoy being away. When I first came on the circuit I did quite
well in the first couple of months. I qualified for the British Open
in the first year but then I hung around in England for 2 ½
months without any tournaments, no leagues or anything and that had
a bad effect on me. I started to not like traveling. But as I got
older and matured, I started to enjoy it again.
WHAT WAS RESPONSIBLE
FOR YOUR SURGE UP THE RANKINGS?
Towards the end of last year I wasn’t happy with my ranking
and some of my results. I felt as though I was pushing the top players
around the ten ranking and that I was capable of beating them, and
every so often I would, but it wouldn’t show on my rankings.
So round about September of last year after the Hong Kong Open I
decided to play as many tournaments as I could and take the pressure
of myself, just play, play, play to get my ranking up, and it worked.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST
When I made the semi-finals in Hong Kong in 2000 is the best tournament
result. Single match would be when I was up 7-5 in the fifth against
Peter Nicol in Pakistan – and lost. Those are the things that
keep me going and drive me. I know I’ve still got a lot to learn
and improve on.
WERE YOU ALWAYS A BIG HITTER?
Not really, I think I just started to hit the ball harder when I played
on the glass court. I also had a growth spurt when I was about 15 and
that was I started to hit the ball harder.
WHO WAS YOUR IDOL
Rodney Martin was the man when I was a junior and he was the player
we all spoke about. And when I came on the circuit Rodney Eyles was
always around and helping us on the court. But Rod Martin has been an
influence on me because I’ve been working with him since I was
at the Institute. I don’t base my style on any one player. I try
to develop my strengths, which are endurance and I’m aggressive,
which can sometimes work against me.
HOW DID YOU FEEL
AFTER YOUR VICTORY OVER JOHN WHITE?
I felt relieved more than anything. I felt in patches I played well
and controlled the match. I also felt that I got distracted from
my game plan and played pretty weak in parts. To be up two love
and then lose it to two games apiece …yes, just relieved to
HAVE YOU SET YOURSELF
I want to be top eight by the end of this year and in the top four next
Ricketts (r)won the exhibition pre-final Challenger at the US Open.
Simon Parke(l) (photos:©
2002, by Debra Tessier)
after his loss to Peter Nicol
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