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October
in the World of Squash

…Ramy Ashour … Nicol David in HK
… Jonathon Power in NY … Jonny Leslie… more

E Store GripsGlobal Gallery,
October 24, 2006

The Monthly Round-up of the Interesting and
Inane of Squash From Martin Bronstein

© 2006 All
rights reserved.
all photos© 2006, Debra Tessier and Alex Wan

CANADA
THE PERFECT HOSTS?

corby
Rachael
and Natalie Grinham: Not seen in Edmonton as Australia sunk to
10th. Photo © 2006, Alex Wan.

We
all know what nice, friendly and hospitable people Canadians are, but
I thought they took their generosity as hosts a little too far at the  recent  Women’s World Team Championships in Edmonton.  They
finished 13th just ahead of  Japan, Spain and Austria. This was
the fifteen championships (held every two years since  1979).  When
Canada hosted the event in Toronto in 1981 they finished seventh and
in  1992 in Vancouver they finished sixth. Two years later  in
Guernsey in the Channel Islands they dropped to twelfth. So this year
was their worst ever finish – in front of their own home crowd.
Oh the pain!   But then I don’t suppose it is nearly
as painful as the Australians finishing in 10th spot, due to  the
Grinham Sisters pulling out over an disagreement with the selection progress.
In the entire history of the event the  Aussies have won it  six
times and  have been runners up four times; they have never finished
out of the top three,  a record bettered only by England.

On
the other hand Egypt never even sent a team until  1994 and
now have finished in the top four in the last four championships.  How
long will it be before  they win it? With their constant stream
of top juniors, it won’t be too long.

THE  MOTHER
OF ALL COUNTBACKS

Although
Peter Nicol has retired from the PSA circuit he still keeps his hand
in on the European leagues and continues to lead the German team Paderborn.  Again this year Paderborn reached the semis of
the European club champships, held in Sweden, where they faced Bishop
Stortford,  a club who came from nowhere to knockout England’s
perennial champions, Colets, on their way to the England title and the
right to play in the European finals.   When the four -man
teams had finished, the score was 2/2 in ties. So they  calculators
were  brought out for the countback to decide the winner. Remarkably  all
ties had finished  with the identical 3/1 scoreline, so the clubs
were tied 8-8 in games. Bigger calculators were produced to add up every
point score in every game in every tie.  The result was – unbelievably – a
tie, exactly 108 points for each club.  The rule book was perused
and it directed  that the impasse would be broken by the first
string result.  Anthony Ricketts had beaten  Peter Nicol 3/1,
so, sensationally Paderborn were out and  Bishops Stortford went
through to the final where they got hammered by another German team.
You don’t get results like that very often.

MY CRYSTAL BALL IS NOT ONLY FOGGY BUT SLIGHTLY CRACKED

corby
ashour
Ramy
Ashour wrecked my HK Crystal Ball Photos © 2006,
Alex Wan.

Unable
to get to Hong Kong for the Cathay Pacific tournament, one of the biggest
ones on the tour, I settled instead for some forecasting. In the men
I forecast the four semi-finalists to be   Shabana
and Ricketts,  Lincou and Palmer with Palmer as the eventual winner.  Along
came Ramy Ashour, a 19 year old Egyptian and two-time world junior champion,
who tore  my predictions to shreds. First of all he beat John White
and then, sensationally, knocked out Thierry Lincou. We had hardly got
our breath back from  that shock result when he went a step further  knocking
out Peter Barker (the young left-handed Englishman who had knocked out
Lee Beachill) to reach the semifinals.  It was there that David
Palmer awaited him and surely the young upstart would now be sent packing.  Not
a bit of it, Ashour  beat Palmer in four  to make it an all-Egyptian
final against Amr Shabana.  It should be worth noting that a third
Egyptian, Karim Darwish had dispatched  Anthony Ricketts to make
it to the  quarters where he in turn was knocked out by  James
Willstrops, who is back to form and had a good tournament, I’m
glad to say.

Alright
so I got two out of four, but as they were the top two seeds that wasn’t
too clever was it?

HOORAY FOR NICOL DAVID

My
crystal  ball was clearer for the WISPA event, predicting Nicol
David as the winner (easy) and the other semi-finalists as  Engy
Kheirallah of Egypt, Tania Bailey and Alison Waters of England.  So  two
out of four again. The wise old Rachael Grinham just found enough fitness
to outlast Kheirallah to make her way to the semis, while I had correctly
seen Tania Bailey, seeded seventh, as a real threat. True enough she
knocked out second seed Vanessa Atkinson in straight games and and then
did the same thing to Vicky Botwright in the semi-finals. In fact  Bailey
never dropped a game on her way to the final where she was totally outclassed
by  Nicol David.

corby
Nicol
David – quite dominant in Honk Kong. Can anyone push her now?
Photo © 2006,
Alex Wan.

Although
David had a couple of hard matches, she will continue to dominate for
years to come. Unless Bailey comes up with a new strategy in her matches
against  David, I cannot see any player posing a real threat
to the Malaysian’s number one spot.

INDIA
: DECEMBER  2007. A FOUR-WAY BATTLE TO RELISH

I
know I may be looking too far ahead, but with the rocket-like progress
of Ramy Ashour, I cannot help thinking about the next men’s
world team championship which takes place in India just over a year
from now.

Egypt
will be fielding  Amr Shabana,  Karim Darwish and
Ramy Ashour. Australia will have David Palmer, Anthony Ricketts and  Stu
Boswell. England will feel very confident with James Willstrop, Nick  Matthew
and Lee Beachill while France will  pose a real threat with  Thierry
Lincou, Gregory Gaultier and Renan Lavigne. 

Using
the patented Bronstein Index on the three players puts Australia at
the top,  England second, Egypt third and France fourth. But
these are three man teams, so using the BI on just the two top ranked
players in each team changes the order slightly: Australia,  Egypt,  France
and England.

Between  now and then  Ashour will certainly be in the top
five.  Furthermore, Egypt are the only country with five players
in the top 20: Shabana, Darwish, Ashour, El Hndi and Abbas. With  Nicol
now out, England can count on just four top 20 players: Willstrop, Matthew,
Beachill and Grant.

POWER IS STILL AROUND AND SUPPORTING THE GAME

corby
Jonathon
Power delighting the Village Open crowd after a 27 block run.
Photo © 2006,
Debra Tessier.

The
new Village tournament  in New York was more as much charity
bash as anything else and, according to Ron Beck, superbly supported   by
a great many people. Since Gregg Zaff started SquashBusters in Boston,
a program to get inner city kids into the privileged US world of squash,
other cities have followed suit . New York have  City Squash and
this was their event.   Chicago  a similar program and
one day we can only hope that these programs produce the US version of
Jahangir.

On
the final day of the tournament Jonathon Power turned up to lend his
support and give an exhibition with John White (two of squash’s
great showmen of recent times if not of all times). Power’s  brain
and wit are as sharp as ever: when he couldn’t get a cab  to
go the 27 blocks from Grand Cenral Stationto the venue, Power decided
he had to go by foot. When Ron Beck asked him if he enjoyed the 27 block
jog Power retorted. “I didn’t jog , I ran”. Well done
Jonathon, it was all in a good cause.

JONNY
LESLIE STILL HAS FORM

Back
in the 70’s when the game was still amateur Jonny Leslie
was an automatic choice for the Great Britain team.  He was a wonderfully
stylish player and although I never saw him in his prime, I did see him
play in a league match for Lambs, and his racket work and ball distribution
was a joy to behold.  He sort of disappeared from view and rarely
showed up at the British Open age group events, but Lo!  In South
Africa this month he came out of hibernation to win the World Masters
title in the over 55 group.

In
the over 65’s Adrian Wright, a tough left hander from Yorkshire,  beat
Chris Stahl – he of the European Squash Federation , a repeat of
the British Open final.

JAHNGIR WINS THIRD TERM

In
case you had not heard, Jahangir Khan has been voted in for his third
term as president of the World Squash Federation.  He has made the
difficult  transition from player to  official with charm and  warmth
and is enormously popular wherever he goes. I shall be seeing and talking
to him in Belfast when he makes his  official appearance at the
women’s world championship next month.

If
you have any questions you would like me to put to him,   e-mail
them to me here at Squashtalk and we’ll feature his answers in
the December Global Gallery.