Nov 17, 2000, Edinburgh,
Scotland. © 2000 SquashTalk
In the latest shock news to hit the world team championships to be held
next week in Sheffield, England, Sue Wright, the surprise British Open
finalist last month, has had to pull out of the England team with a reoccurrence
of the virus ailment that sidelined her for almost a year. This is the
second blow to the England team after the withdrawal of Cassie Campion,
their number one string, who had an operation on her back this week. Sue
Wright ranked 11 in the world, was chosen in preference to Suzanne Horner,
ranked 8, and Fiona Geaves, ranked 11, because of her startling performance
at the British Open. To replace Wright, England cannot now choose Horner
or Geaves, because they are ranked above her. The rules stipulate that
replacements must be ranked lower than the fourth ranked member. So step
forward Rebecca Macree, ranked 15, the only deaf player on the WISPA circuit.
Fortunately, she won’t be able to hear the cries of anguish from Horner
Everybody is now talking about the weakness of the competition. You’ve
already read on Squashtalk of the mutiny in the Australian ranks (we scooped
the world on that one). Now that Carol Owens is world champion, Squash
Australia has to bite the bullet and field a team that does not include
the world champion. Sunuva bowlegged kangaroo mate, that’s real crook
ain’t it? With Sarah Fitz-Gerald back to form the Aussies would have walked
it with Owens as number one. Now, not a chance.
NOW THE YANKS
I was talking to Ivy Pochoda who got to the final of the Plate event
and she tells me that the US team will not be fielding its two strongest
players, Latasha and Shabana Khan, who are ranked 20 and 32 because they
are not seeing eye to eye with the US authorities. (I do not know the
full story, or, come to that, even a bit of it) So now the US will be
fielding a team led by Pochoda , ranked 59, Shirin Kaufman, 94, Louisa
Hall, 122, and Margaret Elias. “It’s really a shame. With our two best
players we would have had our highest finish ever, because this is a weakened
field. It’s a pity that the authorities don’t bend a bit and the Khans
don’t bend a bit. Neither side really seem to be interested in fielding
the strongest team,” Pochoda told me.
VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH WOULD YOU LIKE SIR?
When I wrote the story on the Aussie mutiny, I quoted Carol
Owens when I said that the Squash Australia does not pay them for playing
for their country. I got a sharp email from Ross Barry at Squash Australia
who said that is not so, they do indeed pay their players. When I told
Owens, she corrected herself and said they got A$600 – about U$360. What
she meant to say was that they never got paid enough. (That’s how writers
get into jams and make enemies on both sides).
A SUM, ANY SUM.
In talking to Sarah Fitz-Gerald, trying to get the real truth, she told
me that they only get paid if they win. And then only A$300. When I told
her about the A$ 600 figure, her eyes widened. Were different players
getting paid differing amounts.? And is it absolutely correct to say that
a win bonus is payment for playing? Because if they lose they don’t get
the money, therefore they are not being paid to play. Choose which version
of the truth you prefer. As a final note, I asked Carol Owens at her winner’s
press conference (where she was clutching her U$9,700 cheque), if she
would play for Australia if they offered her Â£5,000, Yes, she said immediately.
Â£4,0000? Yes. Â£3,000, Yes. Â£2,000? Her answer was drowned out by the laughter.
Sarah Fitz-Gerald had mixed emotions about her performance
at the Eye Group World Open. I told her that I thought she would have
been very encouraged at getting to the semis and almost making the final.
“Yes, but I came her really thinking I could win it, so I am disappointed.
But as my knee is giving me no real problems I’m happy to be in a position
to challenge the top four,” she said. I asked her about the rumors concerning
her plans to retire. “Well I am 31 and I don’t want to start falling down
the rankings. If I can stay in the top four then I won’t retire for a
couple of years. My next goal is the Commonwealth games in 2002, I would
like to get a gold medal. If I stay at the top I shall retire after that.
You know I want to have children and I have to think about my life after
squash,” she pointed out.
This really is the loveliest of cities, with something wonderful
to look at in all directions. In the middle of the city is not only Edinburgh
Castle, imperiously looking down on everything, but also Arthur’s Seat,
a very craggy mountain (an old volcano they say). We walked almost to
the top in a circular tour and the scenery was quite staggering in every
direction. On your next visit to the UK be sure to add it to your itinerary.
There is also the Russell Collection of keyboard instruments in St. Cecilia’s
Hall, one of the finest collections of ancient harpsichords, spinets,
virginals and clavichords in the world. Beautiful woods and remarkable
decorations, still looking in mindtcondition. What a wonderful way for
an organologist to spend Saturday afternoon.
TREAD ON THE FLOOR.
The Women’s World Open used the new ASB glass court introduced at the
British Open. It has a sprung floor (Jonathon Power was said to have quipped
that it felt like squash and trampolining combined.) I spoke to one of
the technicians who erected it in the Meadowbank Centre and he said they
have to level the base to within 1 mm of tolerance. Unfortunately, the
floor on which they were erecting the court was also sprung and if someone
walked in to the arena while they were levelling, everything went wonky
again. He had grey hair. However, none of the players complained of sore