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February
’08 Global Gallery

…Natalie Grinham
… NY Media … Shabana in Toronto
… PSA Board… more

Global Gallery,
Feb 25th, 2008

The Monthly Round-up of the Interesting and
Inane of Squash this month from
Martin Bronstein, dean of the Squash Press

© 2008 All
rights reserved.
all photos© 2008, Debra Tessier and Fritz Borchert

SQUASH
AUSTRALIA STILL BLOWING HOT AIR

Those
folks down under who run Australian squash must really think the rest
of the world is as dumb/naïve (hoose favourite word) as they
are. They mis-treated Carol Owens when she was at the top, and so she
refused to play for them and went off to New Zealand and finally took
out citizenship there.

James Willstrop in Birmingham
Natalie
Grinham – will play for Holland.
(photo:©2008 Alex Wan)

Then
they fiddled the selection process  for their women’s
teams which upset the Grinham sisters. It seems the selection process
was carefully laid down except for one clause that allowed the selectors
to  ignore all the rules if  they thought fit and select another
player who was not good enough. The Grinham sisters insisted that the
rules be changed to avoid any sort of favoritism. Although Squash Austalia
promised changes, they were never made, so the Grinham sisters refused
to play for Australia in the world team championships. Squash Australia
issued a press release that was pitiful in its attempt to put positive
spin on a nasty situation. They blah –blahed about giving young
players a chance, without mentioning the Grinham boycott. It cost Australia
a world team title. They still had not changed two years later; it cost
them another world team title. And now that Natalie Grinham has taken
up Dutch nationality – to match that of her husband Tommy Berden,  Squash
Australia issues another press release  wishing Natalie good luck,
blah,blah,bleedin’ blah.  No mention of the boycott and
how Squash Australia’s administrators had screwed up.

Anyway
I thought Natalie should have made the change a couple of years ago.
She will be eligible to play for the Netherlands from next year, so
with  Vanessa Atkinson and  Annelize Naude, the Dutch should
have a pretty good chance at the title. Australia? They will come fourth
or fifth. But in my heart Squash Australia will always be first in bullshit.

NEW
YORK, NEW YORK IT’S A HELLUVA —WAIT A MINUTE! WAIT A MINUTE!

I
am glad to report that the New York media has finally noticed that
a great sporting event is taking place annually in Grand Central Terminal.
It has only taken ten years for the New York Times to mention the great
Tournament of Champion, which John Nimick has been promoting so vigorously
since the mid-nineties. For most years – and I have covered the
event for every year but one – the august  New York Times
never even ran results, never mind reporting on it. And this was the
Big Apple where new things were exalted. Finally this year they noticed.
There were even colour pics, and actual features in several New York  papers.
As I said, it only took a decade to sink in.

TERRIFIC TORONTO

James Willstrop in Birmingham
Amr
Shabana entertained in Toronto.
(photo:©2008 Debra Tessier)

Meanwhile
let us give Toronto’s newspapers a huge cheer, they
really covered the Canadian Classic this year, huge features as well
as solid  match coverage. The National Post had a feature on Amr
Shabana that took the breath away. The reporter, bravely, almost ignored
squash and got Amr talking about the fundamentalist terrorists. The quotes
were full of  “ F***” s as Amr let fly at these **********s
who went around with   “a bomb up their butt” and
fumed at the fact that all these terrorist activities had made it even
harder for the players from the Middle Eastern countries  to get
US visas. Great article and well said Amr. The result was that  for
the four days in the John Bassett theatre  there were near sell-out
crowds.

Congratulations
to the Toronto sports editors who could teach the stuck-in-the-past
New York journos  how to move into the 21st century and that there
ismore to sport than basketball, baseball, gridiron and ice hockey.

PLAYER CUP SERIES COULD BE THE WAY FORWARD

Nimick’s
Players’ Cup series could be the way forward for
pro squash. This year, its first, has gone smoothly. With an overall
sponsor next year, it could grow to become a truly major circuit.  In
addition to  David Palmer moving to Boston and John White in Pennsylvania,
I now learn that Wael El Hindi is due to move to New York very shortly.
There will be more top players moving to the Eastern Seaboard in the
next year, which will mean a great potential field of top players for
US tournaments in the coming years.  The Richmond event, the Davenport
Pro Squash tournament, attracted the best field so far this year with
eight out of the top ten  in the main draw and tournament director
Gus Cooke, with the constant help of Dave Carr of McWil Courtwall, has
put together a great tournament.

The
only set-back has been in Boston for the playoffs where advance ticket
sales were down, so Nimick has cancelled the Hancock Theatre in the
Backbay area and the whole tournament will be played at Harvard which
has a permanent 4-wall glass court. But the players are anxious because
of the pay day. First round losers in the eight man draw earn $3,000,
semi-finalist get $4,000, runner up gets $5,000 and the winner gets $25,000,
which should make the final really interesting.

RAMY OVERWORKED

Strangely
Ramy Ashour who tops the rankings, will not be going to Boston. He
told me he has to save his body. In the last 20 days he has played
the Canadian Classic Toronto, did two exhibition in Western Canada
with Amr Shabana and then played in an eight man invitational in Barrie,
a small town north of Toronto. No wonder he’s tired. And probably
getting around $6,000 for an exhibition,  he can afford to turn
down a chance of $25,000

PRIVATE JETS FOR THE STARS

Despite
the cutback, six of the players who will be participating in the playoffs
in Boston will be flown by private jet from Richmond, Virgina to Boston
on Sunday, to avoid the harrowing experience of flying commercial airlines.
Good for them, they deserve it.

BEACHILL  ELECTED TO PSA BOARD –HERRICK
NOT THROWN OVERBOARD

Although
Beachill was told in Bermuda that he did not get enough votes to be
elected to the board, well blow me down if a month later, the PSA suddenly
found the missing votes  and Beachill was put on the board
after all. Jack Herrick was taken off the presidential perch but still
remains a board member. I met up with Beachill and Alex Gough in Richmond
and asked what happened. They both smiled and kept shtum.  But that
silence spoke volumes. As I said in my news story on Squashtalk two weeks
ago, I think Gawain Briars brokered a deal before  the entire membership
mutinied.  While we are on the subject of Briars,  my Deep  Split
Throat source tells me that two years ago 160 PSA members signed a  non-confidence
motion against Briars. Somehow Briars survived that too.

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