in the World of Squash
…Ramy Ashour … Nicol David in HK
… Jonathon Power in NY … Jonny Leslie… more
October 24, 2006
The Monthly Round-up of the Interesting and
Inane of Squash From Martin Bronstein
© 2006 All
all photos© 2006, Debra Tessier and Alex Wan
THE PERFECT HOSTS?
and Natalie Grinham: Not seen in Edmonton as Australia sunk to
10th. Photo © 2006, Alex Wan.
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.
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.
OF ALL COUNTBACKS
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
Ashour wrecked my HK Crystal Ball Photos © 2006,
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.
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
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.
David – quite dominant in Honk Kong. Can anyone push her now?
Photo © 2006,
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.
: DECEMBER 2007. A FOUR-WAY BATTLE TO RELISH
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
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.
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
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
Power delighting the Village Open crowd after a 27 block run.
Photo © 2006,
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
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.
LESLIE STILL HAS FORM
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.
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
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.
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.