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Malaysia:

a peek at up and comers…

GLOBAL GALLERY August 2001
Martin Bronstein’s astigmatic view of the world
of squash.

© 2001 All rights reserved.
photos © 2001, D Tessier, R Beck and V Winchell


GREAT TOURNAMENT, TERRIFIC RUMOURS.
First of all, a large pat on the back to A.J. Wong and his band of ultra
efficient volunteers for running a smooth-as-clockwork world junior champs
in Penang. I know from talking to so many players that they thought it
was a great tournament. From my own selfish viewpoint, the efficiency
of all concerned made my job so much easier. Not once did I get locked
in the club as I was desperately trying to get my stories out on the web.
And when we did finish, regardless of the hour, there was always a car
to take us back to the hotel.

Thanks
Malaysia.

At
a world event, there is a always a gathering of Org. people and rumors
abound. One said that incumbent World Squash Federation (WSF) president
Susie Simcock may be elected for a fourth term, despite the rules that
say that three terms (six years) is max.

One
of the key proponents of this move is George Mieras, director of the WSF
Championships Committee. When he spoke to Squashtalk he put forth a very
convincing case for amending the rules to allow Susie to go for a fourth
term.

“I
am usually a supporter of limited terms, because I think change is good.
But in Susie we have someone who is unique in three ways. Firstly, she
has a great deal of experience on the Olympic bid. Secondly she holds
key positions on global sports committees on her personality and not because
she is WSF president. And thirdly she is a massive asset because as a
woman she commands attention in a male-dominated world. It would be very
silly to dispose of a key asset just because our rules,” George said.
The amendments will be discussed and voted on during the WSF meeting in
Melbourne in October.

Susie
is giving very careful consideration to George’s blandishments and her
answer will depend on many things not least of which is her ailing husband.
Other rumors say that WSF vice-president Mike Corby is keen to take the
presidency as is N. Ramachandran of India. Mr. Ramachandran is presently
being pilloried on the internet by people who infer that he ‘bought’ the
presidency of the Asian Squash Federation. And this is the ‘nicest’ of
the accusations against him, none of which have been proved and none of
which would I dare repeat on Squashtalk.

MORE
TROUBLE AT THE TOP

The English SRA (now known as England Squash) is thrown into more turmoil
with the news that the chief executive Stu Courtney, has resigned. I heard
over three months ago that Stu and England Squash president Mike Corby
were not seeing eye to eye. (Yes, the same Mike Corby as in the previous
paragraph. He is also president of the English Hockey Association having
been a whizz at hockey as well as squash, playing for England in both
sports.)


Stu is the fifth Chief executive in ten years and I am sorry to see him
go. He was the only one that I could talk to – and he would listen. He
won’t be around to see England squash move into their brand new offices
later this year, nor be around for the Commonwealth Games next year. Pity.

The
SRA have had continuing problems finding a fitting chief executive. In
Courtney they had a man who was one of the most gifted squash players
England has ever produced (it is still a delight to watch him play doubles),
a very good team manager and a man who got around the country in an attempt
heal the rift between the governing body and the county associations (it
was a federal vs. state sort of thing). At one time there was over a year’s
gap between chiefs during which time the organisation almost fell apart.
We wait with concern to see how quickly they replace Stu and, more importantly,
who they replace him with.

STILL
THE BEST FINAL

I finally got rid of my steam-driven video player and bought a new one
that handles long-play videos. The sole reason was to be able to watch
the video of the 2000 Super Series final between Peter Nicol and Simon
Parke. Squashtalk readers may remember that my on-the-spot report zoomed
off the screen with enthusiasm, saying it was the best final I had ever
seen.


I watched the video closely and I am happy to report that my superlatives,
which were spewed out in the heat of the moment, were deserved. It is
a fantastic match. The standard of squash throughout was never less than
breathtaking and it was as good in the fifth game as it was in the first
three. That Simon Parke lost will be one of the great injustices of his
career. Not that Nicol deserved to lose, but these two players were so
well matched, so equal in all parts of the court, that had Nicol lost,
I would have said that too was an injustice. (You
can still buy the video of this great match from Squashtalk
).

Parke
has not played that well since and in the last few months has been noticeably
off the boil. He has now withdrawn from the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open
and the Al Ahram International in September. It seems he has a niggling
ankle injury that won’t go away and is now consulting with specialists
to see if he needs an operation. The good news is that Ahmed Barada is
back on court and will be playing in both Hong Kong and Cairo.

WORLD
OPEN, OFF? ON?

Not long ago I said that good sources assured me that the PSA World Open
in Mumbai later this year would not take place because of money problems
and animosity between various parties. While I was in Penanag, the promoter
met with the PSA and through Howard Harding issued a press release to
announce the dates (Early December) with the qualifications taking place
in Cardiff – yes! Cardiff – a month earlier. This press release was an
attempt to avoid the mistakes of last year when no announcement was made
about the world open, which never took place. Perhaps they thought we
wouldn’t notice. The fact is that the promoter still does not have a sponsor
in place. When people mutter words like, ‘a major sponsor will be signed
within the next two months’ I get very twitchy. And pity the poor winner
in December. He will have about four months to enjoy his world champion
status as the 2002 Men’s World Open is already scheduled as the Esso Open
in Antwerp in April.


MALAYSIA BRINGS OUT THE FUTURE STARS.
Here’s the Bronstein Squash Futures (Women) Report, as garnered after
two weeks of solid squash in Penang. In alphabetical order; Kasey Brown
the 15 year old Australian who shows such total dedication to the sport
and whose commitment to training for one so young will send her high into
the senior game. You already know about Nicol David, the best junior ever,
and ditto for Omney Abdel Kawy, still only 15 years old, almost certain
to win the world junior crown in Cairo in 2003.

Low
Wee Wern is the next Malaysian world-beater. Just eleven years old and
the Malaysian Under 17 champion, there is no doubt that she will be world
junior champion in 2005 or 2007. Kathrin Rohrmuller of Germany has proved
herself in the British Open juniors but displays a racket ability that
is quite unique as well as a deep, never-give-up will to win. You may
have not heard too much about Lauren Siddal, but she comes from the same
Yorkshire camp as Lee Beachill, James Willstrop and Jenny Duncalf. Her
coach, Malcolm Wilstrop expects great things from her.

Raneem
El Walily is another Egyptian phenomenon who is expected to be even better
than Kawy. This 13 year old already has a racket sponsor, she will be
playing number two in the 2003 world champs and will be a contender for
the 2005 individual title. Finally, Manuela Zehnder, the Swiss miss who
has had Egyptian racket skills imparted to her by Adam Taleb, son of the
great Abou Taleb. She’s 18 and will not be going full time for three years,
until she has finished her studies. Even so, she could be one of the great
late bloomers.

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