FAREWELL, OLD MAN
I looked at the list players in the qualifying draw for the Tournament
of Champions and noticed that Mark Cairns had withdrawn. Two hours later
I was at my club, Colets, and there was Cairns who was down to play number
one for our first team in the Surrey league match. “Why did you withdraw
from New York,” I asked him.
|Mark Cairns on Tour. Photo ©
2002 D. Tessier
er, well, you see, IÂve retired,” he replied a little sheepishly. WHAT??
To say I was surprised would be understatement of a very high order. “I
am taking on the job of general manager at the Winchester Squash and Tennis
Club,” he continued. “IÂve been on the tour since 1987 and IÂm now 34.
Everybody has to go sometime. Pity I went to Boston and lost. I should
have quit after I won the Grasshopper tournament in Switzerland in November,
to go out on a winning note,” he said.
was a winner for England: he played for England 21 times as a senior and never
lost wearing an English shirt. A couple of years ago England were playing
Australia in the world team champs in Cairo and Cairns had to play Rodney
Eyles. Nobody gave Cairns a chance and thought Eyles would mash him. In an
England shirt Cairns had a reputation to uphold and beat Eyles over five games.
Cairns, who got to world number ten in 1997, also remembers the time he beat
Rodney Martin in the British Open. “It was the first time I had beaten a really
good player in a top event.” Cairns will continue on as a director of the
PSA and will also keep on playing leagues, but from today, Mark Cairns, pro
squash player, no longer exists. Sad, very sad.
THE BIG MATCH OF THE YEAR
No, the needle match wonÂt be Power and Nicol, but between Nicol and Beachill.
We were waiting for our baggage at BostonÂs Logan Airport and the discussion
got round to the lack of tournaments.
remarked that there was nothing in February or March and Pete, with a
wicked glint in his eye, said: ÂOh yes there is. The Nationals. IÂve got
to stop you getting a double. I canÂt let you win it two years running.Â
Beachill laughed, but you could see he was worried. The strange fact is
that no player has ever won the British National title two years running.
THE WELSH CHAMPION
Why do I keep calling David Evans the Welsh champion? Because heÂs the
highest ranked Welsh player in the world rankings. But the fact is he
is not the Welsh champion and has not been for the last year or so. Last
year he missed the Nationals because he was sick and this year he was
in Boston for the Memorial US Open, leaving the field open to former Welsh
champ Alex Gough who duly picked up the national title with very little
LATE BREAKING NEWS
IÂve just heard, via Andrew Shelley of WISPA, the result of the Iranian
WomenÂs Squash championship held in Tehran at the Pars Club. It was won
by Fareshteh Varazi, a 43 year old mother of two who not only coaches
squash and tennis but has translated squash coaching books. There were
no men allowed to watch as females are not supposed to bare their legs
in the presence of men. Things can change quickly however. The first time
I saw Egyptian women playing squash Â less than five years ago- they were
wearing leggings or thin skirts. Now they all wear short skirts or shorts.
And look how far they have come in just a few years. Welcome Iran and
remember, once men wore long white trousers when they played squash.
EVEN LATER BREAKING NEWS
Still with WISPA, Natalie Pohrer, who we used to know as Natalie Grainger
before she married American Ed Pohrer last year, got back to winning form
in Philadelphia. SheÂs had a bit of a break because of a death in the
family, but is bubbling again as only she can. After the victory she announced
that she intends to play for the United States, having acquired citizenship
As it is over three years since she played for her native South Africa,
she should be eligible. She had intended to play for England until love
bloomed in St Louis, which is when Natalie gave up her English lottery
money. This can only be good news for the US womenÂs team for the upcoming
world team champs in Denmark in October.
SCOTTISH OPEN STILL A POSSIBILITY
I had written that the Scottish Open was another casualty in 2002, but
according to Peter Nicol, it is not completely dead. “It was never intended
to be a one off,” he told me, looking completely fresh after his relaxed
trip in Virgin Upper Class. (I had to suffer Virgin Cattle Class and be
scowled at by the Brit herders, sorry, cabin crew). It seems the Scots
organisers are still trying to get some more money in place. Cross your
fingers Â the PSA boys need the work.
OPEN AUTOGRAPHED SWEATSHIRT RAFFLE
we promised at the US Open, Global Gallery announces the winner of the
SquashTalk raffle at the US Open. The winner is… (drawn from a bowl
by me, Martin Bronstein) … Carl Cummings of Boston.
WORLD SQUASH DAY Â IF YOU LIVED IN LONDON
The World Squash Day sort of sizzled out. The only discernible activity was
at Lambs Club in London. The much publicised UK vs
US match did take place there.
Nicol gave up his sleep to play: He arrived in London at 0630 on Friday
Morning and drove straight to the club to spend the day playing. Sometimes
I think he is too nice. After a hard week in Boston at the US Open, the
guy deserved a day off.
event like world squash day is not organised in a couple of monthsÂ
needs a year to get clubs around the world involved and they should be
told what sort of activities to organise so that there is a genuine global
linkup of squash players.
NOT A SQUASH CENTRE ÂTHESE ARE SQUASH CENTRES.
The England Squash Centre in Manchester is near completion and boasts
six squash courts (with movable walls to change into to doubles courts)
and a show court.
sorry England Squash, those are very small potatoes compared to the eye-opening,
breath-taking, jaw dropping squash facilities I saw in and around Boston.
|Harvard University Squash Complex.
Photos © 2002 R. Beck
of all I dropped in on Baj (Satinder Bajwa) the coach at Harvard University.
(Baj also runs the Super Series tourney in London each June). They have 15
spanking new, plaster walled, glassback courts. Easily enough to allow the
menÂs and womenÂs squash teams to practise at the same time. Baj was telling
me that when Trinity came to play Harvard, the foldaway seating was pulled
out and about 1,000 spectators were screaming their teams on.
IÂve been told that the squash facilities at Yale and Trinity were ever
more mouth watering.
Princeton is good and big enough to have had the 1998 World MenÂs Junior
Champs back in 1998.
in Concord, where SquashTalk founder Ron Beck lives, we nipped
into a small private school, the Concord Academy, where they had six brand
new glassbacks. Further out in the country, standing in super rolling grounds
is Groton Prep School, considered one
of the two three prep schools in the US. It has 350 pupils, who come from
not only all over the US but the rest of the world too.
went to their athletics buildingÂ
.12, yes I counted them, 12 brand new
glass backs. For just 350 pupils. I was left speechless. Beck reckons
there are over 100 international squash courts in the Boston area, which
ainÂt bad. Does London have 100 squash courts left?
|Groton School’s New Squash
Complex. Photo © 2002 Vaughn Winchell
thing these courts had in common: they were all supplied by Anderson Courts
from upper New York State. ThatÂs Anderson, as in Gordie Anderson, the
US national over 55 champion. Now I knew Gordie when he was a leading
Canadian player alongside Sharif Khan and Clive Caldwell. Gordie was a
co-owner of the Squash Academy, my first ever squash club in downtown
Toronto. In fact the last time I saw Gordie was in Toronto for the YMG
classic where we exchanged insults yet again. Modest man, Gordie, never
told me how rich and successful he was.
FULL HOUSE FOR TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
If some of the big names were missing in Boston, you can bet your bottom dollar
that they will all be arriving at Grand Central Station in New York in good
time for the Tournament of Champions,
the last big tourney before a most unwelcome hiatus. Ong Beng Hee, fresh from
his victory in the Swedish Open, will be back in the draw where he will face
Aussie Anthony Ricketts.
number five Thierry Lincou from France is back in action after a rest
and he gets a qualifier in the first round after which he could face Paul
Price and then David Palmer, ouch! Jonathon
is in the bottom half of the
draw and is seeded to meet world number two David Palmer, back in action
after a monthÂs rest. But Power has to get past a revitalized Simon Parke
in the first round.
John White is in Peter NicolÂs half of the draw. Joseph Kneipp, who made
such an impact in Boston, is seeded two in the really tough qualifying
draw which includes, Nick Taylor, Amr Shabana, Stefan Casteleyn, Shahir
Razik and Peter Marshall.
Tickets have been selling at a very brisk rate for the last month, so
if you havenÂt got yours yet, look on SquashTalk, ticket agents for EventEngine,
the tournament organisers.
AINÂT A BET
Some gentleman wrote on the USSRA site that “Martin Bronstein implied
that he’d be willing to put a sum of money on Jonathon Power not getting
to the final of the Tournament of Champions. I’ll take that bet…”
things some people will try to get their hands on my money. I have no
recollection of any bet OR
OF ANY IMPLIED BET. If the writer in question can tell me where
he read these words, or implied words, I would be most grateful.
hereÂs a bet: I will wager $25 that Nicol, Palmer, White and Power do
not all reach the semi-finals of the Tournament of Champions. Any takers?