BEATS LEILANI BUT
CAN’T ESCAPE DECEMBER
World champion Cassie Campion is feeling pretty good.
In fact she is feeling much better
than that fateful day in December when she lost to Leilani Joyce in the
final of the British Open. Because in the last few months she has beaten
Joyce three times on the run.
Cassie is now into the third week
of her summer training programme, preparing for the Al Ahram in August
and while she is full of optimism, that Dreadful Day in December won’t
fade away. “That was the biggest disappointment I’ve had in my squash
career. I can’t remember ever being that upset about losing a squash match.
The nerves just got to me. I think I now have the beating of Leilani.
She’s only beaten me once in the last six attempts,” she said, with obvious
Although we’ve known the
facts for weeks, it is now official: the British Open will take place
in the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in October. I for one hope
that it will settle there and once more become the major tournament on
the calendar, although it will have to be pretty good to compete with
the Al Ahram in front of the Pyramids.
The Eye Group people were watching
the Equitable Life Super Series finals closely and they were impressed.
It was a far better tournament this year and everything had improved by
leaps and bounds. And I’m quite sure that the Eye Group were taking notes.
I’ve said it before, but I think the resurgance of major squash tournaments
will be venue led; the venue has to be unique and an attraction in its
own right. With an eight year contract in place, The Eye Group and the
SRA have every right to hope that the British Open will regain the niche
that it had attained at the Wembley Conference Centre under a ten year
sponsorship of Hi-Tec.
Everybody, it seemed, turned up in London for the Super Series. The main
men from Egyptian squash were there and we even bumped into John Easter,
one of the classiest players to come out of England. He is now, they say,
making a rather decent living in the financial sector. And then out of
the blue some bloke came up and shook my hand. Who was this? And then
it sunk in – Dave Carr without a beard but still with that incredible
brain working at just under the speed of light.
Carr used to run soft-ball squash
camps in the US in partnership with Satinder Bajwa, the Super Series promoter.
(That was in the days when hardball was still king). Carr was into everything.
When he heard somebody in Wales had invented a squash ball machine, he
was on the next plane to get the franchise for the US. Unlike a tennis
ball machine that just pumps balls out at different angles and speeds,
a squash ball machine has to heat the balls first to give the right feel.
And as the UK and US have different voltages, Carr had to doctor each
machine. I next heard of him being associated with Curzons Club in Toronto,
an association that ended in 1995 in circumstances that no-one wants to
Carr now builds squash courts as part
of McWil Sports Surfaces, based in Washington DC. In fact the company
does everything, floors, walls, aerobic studios, gyms – everything. “Last
year we did $1.5 million between Washington and Vienna based on being
the only court building company in the world that can offer all manner
of court wall surfaces, ” he tells me. Carr’s heartening news for squash
is that their biggest customers in the US are prep schools for kids between
13-17. This is taking squash to places that it has never been and is yet
another indication that the US will host the next big squash boom.
One activity that grabbed my imagination
( because my club, Colets, the English champion could be a prime customer)
is Carr’s innovation of using panels to re-line tattered plaster front
walls. I know at my club that the plaster is constantly being repaired.
The cost is about $2,500 and seems a cheap way to get rid of an unending
problem. For more info try www.mcwilsports.com.
You never know, Dave might even still have an old squash ball machine
in his garageÂ
IS DEAD – LONG LIVE THE WRITER
My career as a TV commentator came to an abrupt halt at the Super Series
when I was unceremoniously dropped after the pool rounds. It was an interesting
experience, working with different color men, among them Martin Heath,
Colin McQuillan from The Times and coach John Milton. They all had unique
perspectives and came up with different insights into the games and the
players. . I have to admit, I learned a lot from them. If there are any
publishers out there, I could do a book of squash wisdom. One thing is
certain – the producers didn’t get anybody cheaper to replace me; I was
working for nothing. There must be a lesson to be learnt there somewhere.
Had a long talk with Sarah Fitz-Gerald who had to pull out of her exhibition
series because her knee is still not right. One of the problems with operations
is that they leave scar tissue and this is one of the problems she had
to face. The keyhole surgery last year has left some roughness and every
so often it hampers the movement of the kneecap.
She is still very wary of getting
back into competition too quickly and hampering the knee’s recovery, but
you can see she dying to get back on court and teach Cassie, Leilani and
Carol Owens a thing or two. I’ve been a big Sarah fan since I saw her
win the world junior championship in Brighton back in 1987. And not only
as a squash player – she’s genuinely nice person with absolutely no ego
problems. I’m hoping the knee will be ok and she’s in shape for the Al
Ahram – the WISPA circuit needs her.