Jan 16, 2000, London.
© 2000 SquashTalk
from Martin Bronstein
TREVOR MARSHALL’S BACK!
The man who gave professional squash the unique Mennen Cup Classic, is
back in squash.
Trevor Marshall, the Scottish/Canadian/Limey
who now lives in England, unveiled his newest tournament, The Queen’s
Cup, at the prestigious Queen’s Club in London and while, for me at least,
there was a touch of deja vu, it is still an important and welcome addition
to the men’s pro scene.
The formula is simple but unique:
take the top player from eight different countries and put them into two
groups; after the group round robins, the top four players go into the
semi-final playoffs. When Marshall did that a some years back, it didn’t
work so well because the top twenty players were either Palkistani, Australian
or English. But in the year 2001 the line- up for the Queen’s Cup will
Scotland: World Number one Peter Nicol.
Canada: World number two Jonathon Power.
England: World number three Simon Parke.
Egypt: World number four Ahmed Barada.
Wales: World number five David Evans.
Australia: World number six David Palmer.
France: World number 17 Thierry Lincou.
Malaysia: World number 24 Ong Beng Hee.
As you can see the world’s top six
players come from six different countries. That fact alone will make this
new tournament a humdinger.
ME AND TREVOR
A little history would not go amiss here. Trevor and I have fallen out
and made up a dozen times. When he organised his first tournament – the
Magic Pan tournament in Toronto in 1979 – I was there, as a freelance
reporter for the Globe & Mail. Why? Because I had just discovered squash
and I couldn’t afford the tickets to watch the top hardballers play. I
persuaded the deputy sports editor to give the tournament coverage and
suddenly I was a squash writer.
Three months later I was assistant
editor of Marshall’s new squash magazine and not much later, he came up
with the Mennen. In those early days, the ambitious Marshall tried to
bring the softballers together with the hardballers and so the four top
players in North American hardball played the four top softballers.
Needless to say the game played was
hardball and Sharif Khan won, the softballers getting stuffed out of sight.
Except of course for Geoff Hunt who adapted very quickly to the narrow
court and hard ball. The only other player to do so was Jahangir Khan.
All the other softballers were hopeless. In an effort to accommodate the
softballers’ greater fitness and athleticism, one year the Mennen was
played using the hardball on the International court. Quite fantastic.
Jahangir beating Mario Sanchez of Mexico in the final using this format
still ranks as one of the best squash matches I have ever seen.
THE CHANGE TO SOFTBALL
But then Marshall and the WPSA (the hardballers org.) had differences
of opinion so Marshall changed the format, went all softball and invited
the top player from eight countries. Soon players from around the world
were begging to get into the Mennen because the pay was so good. When
the Mennen started back in 1979 the winner received $10,000. When the
Mennen Company finally ceased sponsorship 12 years later in 1990, the
winner was taking home a whopping $50,000, the richest prize in squash.
After a couple more promotions, Trevor seemed to vanish from the scene
– one sponsor left him holding $100,000 in debts – and over the last eight
or nine years he has played the stock market with verve. He and his long-suffering
wife (yes, they are still together) moved to England where Trevor met
up with an old friend Jonathan Smith who was in the arena seating business
(it was Smith’s father Ron, who invented the first temporary spectator
seating 30 years ago). As major squash tournaments are now played on portable
courts, Smith was a natural to get into the supply of the seating. Smith
needed a promoter, Marshall needed a commercial partner. Together they
are now JMS Management Ltd.
THE GRAND OLD QUEEN’S
The Queen’s Club is a very grand club in West London boasting dozens of
tennis courts, three squash courts, two Rackets courts and two Real Tennis
courts, probably the only club in the world to have such facilities. The
sporting world knows the Queen’s because it hosts the superb pre-Wimbledon
Stella Artois tennis tournament. I should say Lawn Tennis, because it
is still played on grass. They were looking to add to their world class
tournament list and, by the will of the Gods, The Queen’s Club, Trevor
Marshall and Jonathan Smith got together and so was born The Queen’s Cup.
No sponsor, by the way, JMS are picking
up the complete tab, in the region of $250,000. They will naturally be
supplying the 650 seats and 18 corporate boxes to be erected on the indoor
tennis courts. They will also supply the four wall glass court, the superb
new court used by the SRA for the British Open. On April 1st 2001 JMS
will buy the $130,000 court from the SRA and will then be going full tilt
into giving other promoters one-stop shopping for future tournaments.
LOADS OF DOLLARS AND SILVER RINGS
The Queen’s Cup will take place from April 3 to April 8 with all the players
named above signed to take part. The winner will take home a cheque for
$20,000 dollars and a $6,000 platimum champions ring. Every player is
guaranteed at least $2,500 and a silver ring.
Nicol is grouped with Ahmed Barada,
David Evans and Ong Beng Hee while Power is grouped with Simon Parke,
David Palmer and Thierry Lincou. To ensure maximum effort, the scoring
is one point for each game won plus two points for a match win so hopefully
there will be none of the tanking that sometimes happens in these round-robin
tournaments. I have nothing but enthusiasm for this tournament and can
guarantee that with sponsors added in future years, that prize money will
multiply many times over. Welcome back Trevor. Tickets Hotline: 44 1488