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New Order

… Where are they now, Cassie, Tessier more …

Global Gallery, February
2, 2004

Martin Bronstein, the most respected Squash
Journalist today, reviews a new book on American Squash.

© 2004 All rights
reserved. photos © 2004, Suashtalk, D. Tessier,


The earthquake tremors of December 2003 have abated, the new order is
settling down and New York’s Grand Central station will be the scene of
some epic matches later in February. One thing is for certain: all eyes
will be focussed on – no, not the new world champion Amr Shabana, nor
the new world number one- but on James Willstrop, the best England player
since Del Harris.

Willstrop, up to
number 13 in the February rankings, has world champion written all over
him. His victories over John White and Jonathon Power on successive days
are the stuff of daydreams. That he outlasted Power over five games shows
that Willstrop has gained the strength that was not there in his junior
days. This strength, added to his huge talent, makes him the most exciting
player on the circuit today.

Five years ago the PSA top ten looked like this:
PSA Rankings February 1999
1. Peter Nicol
2. Jonathon Power
3. Ahmed Barada
4. Paul Johnson
5. Martin Heath
6. Dan Jenson
7. Simon Parke
8. Rodney Eyles
9. Alex Gough
10. Anthony Hill.

…and now February 2004:

1 Thierry Lincou
2 Peter Nicol
3 John White
4 Lee Beachill
5 Amr Shabana
6 David Palmer
7 Jonathon Power
8 Karim Darwish
9 Anthony Ricketts
10 Joseph Kneipp

So, only Nicol and Power remain in the top ten.


Ahmed Barada – movie star?

What happened to
the other eight? Ahmed Barada, was stabbed and never
recovered from the trauma and retired. Latest news is that he is about
become a film star.

Paul Johnson
suffered a leg injury and will not be making a comeback.

Martin Heath
is still playing but a dreadful run of bad losses has put him out of the
top 20. He still has the fitness and skill to make it back but at his
age (over 30!) we wonder whether he has the motivation.

Dan Jenson,
that very likeable Australian, is still struggling to make his way back
to the top after two years of injuries saw him slip down into the 30’s.
Back in 1999 he looked as though he could soon be challenging Nicol and
Power with his all court game and unflappable demeanour. These injuries
were cruel justice. But still a chance of a comeback – he is now up to
28 in the latest rankings and has had some good results in the last two

Simon Parke
is still playing at the top level, trying to ignore his advancing years.
In spite of playing well over 100 tournaments in his 12 years in the PSA,
he can still move around the court at remarkable speed. In the last 12
months he has managed to get past the first round just once. A top ten
comeback is unlikely.

Rodney Eyles
retired four years ago and has not been heard from since.

Anthony Hill – in his own world photo
© Stephen Line

Alex Gough
continues to make his presence felt on the circuit and can still present
a formidable foe to even the top tenners who know they may well have work
for five games to beat him. Ranked 27 the former world number four has
no intention of retiring.

Anthony Hill,
who had his own interpretation of the Rules of The Games and therefore
found every referee incompetent or racially prejudiced, now lives in Cairo,
and no squash activity has been reported in the last four years. One of
the most naturally gifted players on the circuit who could do almost anything
with any ball, at any speed, this was a career marred by an unstable temperament.


Recently Jacques Fontaine, president of the French Squash
Federation, sent a strongly worded email to Squashplayer Magazine objecting
to Martin Bronstein calling Gregory Gaultier a ‘son of a bitch’. The only
problem with this accusation was that I had not written about Gregory
in Squash Player magazine and I had not used this Americanism towards

Fontaine’s accusation
incensed editor Ian McKenzie who replied by demanding an immediately apology
for this defamation. Fontaine, who has been known to use his influence
as president outside of Federation business, had to apologise.

The fact was that
writing about a contentious match in the world team championships on Squashtalk,
I had described Gaultier as a tough SOB. Now, how do you explain to a
French speaker the difference between calling someone ‘ a tough SOB’ (complimentary)
and ‘a son of a bitch’ (derogatory)?

I emailed Gregory
and let him know that Fontaine was probably trying to get at me ( I am
not a fan of Fontaine) and explained the Americanisms. He replied by saying
he understood and everything was fine. Now some of you might say that
a good writer has no use for such vulgarities. But ‘tough SOB’ has a lovely
ring to it and I can’t find a similar expression in English. Any suggestions?


Carol Owens won the world title for a second time and retired from the
circuit two weeks later to spend her time mountain biking and fishing.
This left the top spot open and Cassie Jackman jumped right in to take
back the number one ranking which she occupied four years ago. Despite
a recent loss to Rachael Grinham, Cassie has played enough tournaments
and reached enough finals to secure her place at the top. A gutsy comeback:
she survived two spinal operations and a broken marriage and still put
her career back on
the winning track. I hear she is going to marry again. I do hope she retains
her maiden name…..


…the English who invented the game finally got their act together
and established a governing body, which they called the Squash Rackets
Association. You will note that the word English did not appear in the
title. This was THE Squash Rackets Association, and all others had to
include the country in the title. Now let us do a bit of math here, 2004
minus 75 = 1929. So the SRA was established in 1929 eh? Both the American
(USSRA) and (Canadian) (CSRA) actually predate the English body, the USSRA
by about 20 years. Ever since then, the SRA has always been about 20 years
behind the times. And proud of it. Mind you, the present administration
seems to have caught up.

Next month, they
will be holding a dinner at the RAC Club in London to celebrate this 75th
birthday. I shall be attending with Colin McQuillan and am preparing all
sort of conversational gambits about the sad passing of the wooden racket
and amateurism.


The French squash magazine, Planete Squash, has devoted its latest issue
to the squash photography of Debra Tessier. Its whole issue! And a well
deserved tribute it is. Her work is well known to Squashtalk readers because
Ron Beck is also a big fan and has used her since the beginning. Debbie
lives in New York state and will be once more at the Tournament of Champions
to add her marvellous eye for the perfect shot to my reports.

We hope John Nimick
will catch on to her one day to use her as official photographer – she
deserves it.