NOW IN MY DAY , YOUNG MANÂ
At the risk
of sounding like an old fart, may I take issue with a certain refereeing
decision that has changed somewhat in two decades. It came up at the Super
Series Finals, in particular in the final, when David Palmer was playing
Thierry Lincou. There were half a dozen occasions when Palmer dropped
to the front left and Lincou, unable to get through to the ball, asked
for a let. Now in my day, twenty three years ago when I first started
watching top squash, the referee awarded the incoming striker, a stroke.
It was a decision that went without argument unless the drop shot had
At Broadgate (and elsewhere recently) the
referee has been awarding a let rather than a penalty stroke (and on two
occasions unbelievably said no let.) There was the usual admonition to
Âmake more effort to get to the ballÂ which was surely going against the
rules, which state that the outgoing strike should allow the incoming
striker full access to the ball, full sight of the front wall and enough
room to make his/her stroke. Also in the front corner situation, the outgoing
strike should arc back to the T, allowing the incoming striker a direct
line to the ball from the T. Palmer was not arcing to the centre, but
backing in a straight line, and thus blocking LincouÂs access to the ball.
On one occasion, the ball was sitting up around
three feet high: had Lincou gotten to the ball he was sure to have hit
a winner. He was given just a let and when, in frustration, he complained
about the decision, (judging by the spectatorsÂ howls and the remarks
of knowledgeable observers, it was certainly a stroke to Lincou) the referee
said, ÂMake more effort to go around your opponent,Â or words to that
effect. Really? Can a player now hit and block and have the referee support
his tactics? Surely it is the outgoing strikerÂs responsibility to get
out of the way. I used to listen endlessly to top ten players griping
about Jansher Khan not clearing in that situation and getting away with
it. The above in no way implies that Palmer was doing a Jansher. He would
have won anyway because Lincou simply ran out of steam in the fifth game.
But you can understand why some of the players blow their top at the referees
ThereÂs a guy in Philadelphia called Tom Tarantino who is doing more good
for squash than any individual has the right. Tom ran the Philadelphia
Open for a decade and when he gave that up met up Andrew Shelley in Egypt
when he was watching one of the early Al Ahram Pyramid tournaments. He
said he wanted to get into squash in a more personal way, and although
no-one remembers who came up with the idea, a sort of crusade came into
being : taking squash to parts of the world where it is just emerging.
That first year, 1999, Cassie Jackman, Natalie
Grainger and Sarah Fitz-Gerald spread the word in Prague. Sarah went even
though she was on crutches from her knee operation. The party included
Shelley, media director Howard Harding as well as Tom and his wife Barbara.
It was such a success that the following year Natalie Grainger and Sabine
Schoene toured El Salvador, Peru and Jamaica.
Last year they made a safari to Kenya with
a fit Fitz-Gerald and Linda Charman- Smith and this year the Far East
– Thailand, Brunei and Sarawak – had two world champions (Sarah and Nicole
David) giving exhibitions, clinics and playing the top seniors and juniors
in those countries.
The party always includes Shelley, who is making
friends and contacts wherever he goes, Tom and Barbara and Howard Harding
, who gives a running account to the squash world via his lap-top. While
the host nations supply hotel and food, I estimate that it costs Tom between
$15-20,000 a year for his ÂvacationÂ. And furthermore, nobody gets paid
for their services.
ÂSarah is a fantastic asset on these trips.
Not only as president of WISPA but also as world number one and world
champion. And she does it for no fee,Â says an admiring Shelley.
Howard Harding was totally gobsmacked (astounded, surprised, overwhelmed)
by the facilities he found in the Far East. At the Jerudong Country Club
in Brunei, there were two complete Ellis-Pearson 4-wall glass courts,
side by side, while in another club there was a three wall glass court
(solid front wall) with permanent seating for 500 people. ÂAnd they get
very little usage,Â he tells me.
|Bronstein at the Court in Funchal,
Madeira (photo © 2002, M Bronstein)
While I was on holiday in Madeira I discovered
the Quinta Magnolia was just a 100 yards away from my hotel in Funchal. This
was a huge estate, a former grand country house, with marvellous rolling gardens
full of the most beautiful trees and flowers.
It is now a government -owned and run leisure
centre with tennis courts and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. I was told
there was squash and after touring the hills and dales came across a delightful
building sitting alone, surrounded by trees. Inside this unique piece
of architecture was just one squash court. They just donÂt build courts
like that any more. Did I tell you it had a garden on the roof? Sadly
I didnÂt take my racket but I did find out that to rent the court for
an hour would have cost me two Euros, which is just a couple of bucks.
See the photo above (yes, yours truly at the right) You wonÂt believe
BAJ MIGHT STILL BE THE BMOC
I spoke to England Squash head man Jeremy Lister at Broadgate Arena during
the Super Series. He tells me that the talks with Satinder Bajwa, Harvard
head man, are still in progress and there is a good possibility that Baj
could be running the British Open next year. I hope he does; I think he
needs something to replace the Super Series finals which, I am sorry to
say, has seemed to have lost any real meaning. And with no ranking points
at stake, some of the players go on court without the same resolve as
they normally do.
June, too, is not ideal, coming in the middle
of the summer break. Both Peter Nicol and Thierry Lincou, who both lost
to David Palmer, the eventual winner, said that their training had been
interrupted to play at Broadgate. Even the normal placid, but determined,
Stewart Boswell found the timing was all wrong. He, like Nicol, was in
the middle of preparations for the Commonwealth Games. He made the 25,000
mile round trip from Brisbane, so he certainly had my sympathy.
A WORLD CUP INSTEAD?
If Baj doesnÂt get the British Open, perhaps he should reinvent the Mennen
Cup and call it the World Cup. Put the top player from eight countries
in a knockout formula. Right now that would be: Peter Nicol (England),
David Palmer (Australia), Jonathon Power (Canada), Thierry Lincou (France),
John White (Scotland), Ong Beng Hee (Malaysia), Olli Tuominen (Finland)
and Amr Shabana (Egypt). Now that is really not a bad line-up.
When Trevor Marshall was doing this in Toronto
a decade or so ago, the problem was that all the top players came from
Pakistan, England and Australia. Now the first six named above are all
in the top ten. Hold it right at the end of the season, after the British
Open, while all the players are around and in top form, and youÂve got
a sizzler of an event.
THE MAIDENS ARE BACK
A small footnote to my piece last month about women changing their name
upon marriage. Sue Wright decided that nobody knew who Sue Rose was and
went back to her maiden name. Cassie Jackman was adamant when she got
married that she would change her name to Campion and proudly so. Now
she is back to her maiden name of Jackman and will appear as such in all
professional matters. Nevertheless, in years to come there will still
be some puzzlement at this C. Campion who won many tournaments in 2000/1.
I shall be brushing off my top hat and tails as well as my musical metaphors
for the US Open in September. John Nimick has got it back into BostonÂs
Symphony Hall and I am wondering whether his budget allows him to hire
the Boston Symphony Orchestra to supply a music track to the games. I
would certainly suggest the 1812 overture to accompany any match between
Palmer and Mark Chaloner. The SorcererÂs Apprentice might be fitting background
music to a Power match. Any further suggestions from Squashtalk readers
matching major classical works to players would be appreciatedÂ
be rewarded with a prize.