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Doubles
Scoring

… WSF Interviews, Superseries, more …

Global Gallery, May
5, 2004

Martin Bronstein, writes this month from Broadgate
Arena in London.

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

DID
I JUMP THE GUN OR DID THE WSF BEAT ME TO IT?

Regular readers of the Gallery will remember that last month I ended my
piece on the scoring maze with these words:

"It
only needs the WSF to make a courageous step to change doubles scoring
to nine and we would have that conformity. (The quicker the better: most
doubles to 15 are just a bore and when played on singles court, as most
are in Britain, the constant string of lets make watching a paint dry
an attractive proposition.)"

Having written
that, I resolved to embark on a campaign to persuade the WSF to make the
change. So when I saw Susie Simcock, at Broadgate Arena to watch the Super
Series Finals on the second night , I made a beeline for the seat next
to her and started my spiel.

(In case you
didn’t know, Susie was a tremendously popular and effective president
of the World Squash Federation and when her term of office came to an
end, they all conspired to keep her involved in world squash).

I had hardly
gotten into my second sentence when Susie interrupted. With a broad smile
she told me that the WSF had already made that decision! Doubles scoring
is coming down from 15 to nine at the end of this year, starting with
the doubles tournament in India.

My jaw hit my
knees I can tell you. Why hadn’t they made the announcement? She never
answered that question, but it didn’t matter. It means that the scoring
conformity in squash is coming closer. The PSA decision to play to eleven
will be the only exception and, according to the reports coming in from
the leading players, that could be short lived.

At least two
leading PSA members are in favor of a return to traditional hand-in scoring
to nine. But with one change: early rounds should be played best of three
and only quarter-final onwards would be best of five.

As one player
(who shall remain nameless) put it: "The early rounds are usually
not seen by many spectators and they simply tire us out. Better to save
our energy for the later rounds."

There are also
questions as to why the PSA changed to eleven without consulting the players.
This brings up the question as to whether the board serves the members
or the other way around.

A STRANGE
SATURDAY
Chris
Stahl, chief honcho of the European Squash Federation, turned up at my
club for a vets match on Saturday. He asked me if I knew who was being
interviewed for the job of chief exec of the WSF, to replace Ted Walbutton,
who retires this year. I hadn’t a clue, I had no idea they’d even started
interviews.

Anyhow, later
that day I met up with Beth Rasin at the Old Vic Theatre to see Hamlet
with Britain’s newest super-actor, a guy called Ben Whishaw who is getting
rave reviews. Beth is a New Yorker who acts as press officer for the Tournament
of Champions and she had emailed me earlier in the week to say she was
on a quick trip to London and could we meet up.

So we sat down
in our incredibly expensive seats at the back of the auditorium and I
asked Beth what she was doing in town. "I am being interviewed for
the WSF job," she replied. Several moments of stunned silence from
me — it was only two hours earlier that Stahl had brought the subject
up.

I don’t know
how many applicants there were, but I do know that they were all grilled
by Susie Simcock, Neven Barbour, Jahangir Khan and other WSF board members,
which is why Susie was able to visit Broadgate. I looked Susie in the
eyes and asked her who the next WSF chief exec would be. She smiled that
smile again and said she couldn’t tell me. The person has been chosen
and the announcement will be made on June 1st. The only whisper I have
heard is that it could be an Australian. We’ll just have to wait a few
weeks.

WORLD
CHAMP GETS AGENT AND COACH

Shabana –
flatfooted against Joe Kneipp tonight in London.
photo:
(© 2004 Fritz Borchert)

Amr Shabana
hasn’t done too well since he lifted the world title last year. At the
Super Series he lost his first two matches which put him out of the playoffs.
But he may soon have to start delivering because he now has an agent and
a coach. The agent is Wolfgang Denk, who we know as one of the men behind
McWil Courtwall, who are erecting courts all over Europe. It is not his
first sortie into management: a dozen years ago he managed Mir Zaman Gul
who was then being coached by Super Series boss Satinder Bajwa. Wolfgang
was also a partner in Cheedah rackets who sponsored Chris Dittmar.

Shabana’s coach
is that delightful Egyptian Ashraf Hanafi, who has spent much of his adult
life in Germany. I think this will be a very beneficial move for Shabana
who is a bit of a rebel and does not get very much support from the Egyptian
squash federation. With Wolfgang and Ashraf guiding him, Shabana will
have to buckle down to producing some solid results.

SUPER
SERIES — CHAMPAGNE ALL THE WAY
Maybe
the good times are returning to squash. Journalists used to get all sorts
of goodies back in the eighties. Recently we were lucky to get a press
pack, a program and a cheap T-Shirt. At the Broadgate press conference,
the Veuve Cliquot flowed, the press were given a large paint tin which
contained four bottles of that fine champagne and a goodie bag from Kingfisher
Premium Lager that contained a CD of Indian grooves, a watch and other
great stuff. The press room contains a fridge full of Kingfisher beer
and mineral water as well as sandwiches. I can tell you, the press boys
are still in shock — and totally sober despite the free beer.

THAT’S
HOW YOU WIN AWARDS
The
promotion company that works with Satinder Bajwa on the Super Series event
is called WSM and they do such a good job that they?ve won a sports industry
award for their handling of the Super Series last year. This year tickets
sales have been the best ever: the final was sold out three weeks ago
and the last three nights are completely sold out. Brit Insurance, the
name sponsor, are delighted at the response and although they only sign
year by year, you can bet that they will be back next year.

Baj deserves
this success, he has put a lot of hard work into making the Super Series
Final into one of the best events on the calendar. And he does it while
making Harvard one of the best college squash squads in the US. Are Trinity’s
days numbered?