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… Overtraining, biting and feeding …

Martin Bronstein’s astigmatic view of the world
of squash.

© 2002 All rights reserved.
photos © 2002, D Tessier, R Beck and V Winchell


You will have probably heard by now
that the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, were a huge success, despite
the typical wet Manchester weather. Squash was presented superbly – the
game has never been showcased so well and so professionally. More importantly,
the sport attracted a glittering list of royalty and high powered sports
mandarins. The Queen saw just two sports at the games, the first being
squash. Chris Walker had the unlikely honour of being the only man who
has ever kept Elizabeth the Second waiting. He was told he would be presented
at 11.30, but she turned up 10 minutes early while Walker was in the lavatory.
They had forgotten to tell him of the time change. The second sport for
the Queen was hockey…well you can’t have your highs without your lows,
can you? Hockey ! Poor woman.

And then Fast Eddie Windsor, sorry,
the Count and Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward and his wife) also watched
squash and, according to the WSF website, they loved it so much they came
back for a second helping.

More importantly – well, for the future
of squash – was a visit by Jacques Rogge , president of the International
Olympic Committee, who watched a doubles match together with two more
Olympic big cheeses, Dick Pound of Canada and Craig Reedie of England.

The WSF is still using all possible
weapons to get squash into the Olympics. And after the Commonwealth Games,
you can see why. As Athens is out in 2004, the target in Beijing in 2008.
The Chinese Squash Association has applied for full membership of the
WSF and their application will be considered later this year in Kuala
Lumpur. I have a strange feeling deep down that China will be accepted.
Just a hunch, you understand….


I feel it is my duty to keep you
abreast of the capricious name changing of certain WISPA members. You
may recall my utter vexation as these vivacious players took on the name
of some unknown male as soon as they married them. Leilani Marsh became
Leilani Joyce, Cassie Jackman became Cassie Campion and Linda Charman
suddenly added a hyphenated Smith to her name when she got hitched last

Well now. Mrs Joyce parted from Mr
Joyce some years ago and just when we felt she had learned her lesson
(she kept her married name rather than reverting to Marsh) she ups and
marries again, some bloke called Rorani, on the eve of the Commonwealth
Games. And blow me down, she is now listed as Leilani Rorani, which, if
you say it three times, sounds like Xavier Cougat’s rhythm section.

Cassie parted company with her husband
this year and is now back to being Jackman, and, just when we were offering
her our shoulder to cry/rant on, we notice a hyphenated Smith missing
from Linda’s name. Seems that she and Mr. Smith have also decided to file
separate tax forms and she is now plain Linda Charman again, a name that
I always felt was quite mellifluous. It is reassuring to know that Simon
Parke, who finally got hitched in early August, intends to keep his name.


Either the PSA’s Executive Director
has a fine sense of humour or his left hand definitely does not know what
his right hand is doing. In his latest bulletin on the PSA website, he
comments about Andre Maur “one of PSA’s own promoters” starting a rival
organisation, WSPA. “What does the PSA do to one of its own promoters
who literally bites the hand that feeds him by deceitfully turning against
the Association from within?” (Doncha just love the way lawyers write?)

In the next paragraph he announces
that the PSA have accepted the registration of the French Open on the
same dates as the US Open, a move that almost screwed John Nimick who
thought he had the date all tied up. One might well ask here “What does
a promoter do to the PSA who literally chops off the hand that feeds it
by deceitfully turning against him from within?”

(For those of you who missed the story,
the French backed down, said they lost their sponsor and the $60,000 Super
Series event suddenly shrunk to a $15,000 event. The US Open now goes
ahead as planned). Full live coverage from the Boston Symphony Hall on
Squashtalk. Of course.


Harvey coach to World Champion, Peter Nicol © 2002 Vaughn Winchell

Neil Harvey is known as a hard taskmaster.
The players who attend his training camp in Essex in southern England, can
expect to do hundreds of court sprints in the course of a day’s training.
Sprints, not only as part of their regiment, but also as punishment for being
late, for not hitting 20 drops in a row, for , well anything not done properly.
With Peter Nicol as his leading light, Harvey has attracted a goodly bunch
of pupils, Ong Beng Hee and Mo Azlan Iskander from Malaysia, Laurens-Jan Anjema
from Holland, Tim Garner, Peter Genever from England, are just some of the

The best known after Nicol is Ong
Beng Hee now a permanent fixture in the top ten and tipped by Nicol to
take over as world champion. But in the last three months both Nicol and
OBH have shown serious signs of overtraining.

In the Super Series Finals in June
OBH lost a couple of matches that he should have won, but worse, he looked
listless and jaded, as though he would rather be anywhere on earth than
on the squash court, which is very out of character for this normally
upbeat and very likeable player. Earlier in the year, he suffered defeats
to the most unlikely people and then in the Commonwealth Games, he went
down to Canada’s Graham Ryding, a player ranked 20 places below him. And
once more he looked miserable, the normal Beng Hee spark totally absent.

When Nicol lost to David Palmer in
the final of the Super Series, he put it down to the fact that he was
in the middle of his training program for the Commonwealth Games and really
wasn’t too worried about the loss. The fact that there were no ranking
points at stake could also have contributed to his lack of concern.

But lo! in the Commonwealth Games
final, Nicol went down very badly to Jonathon Power. This time there were
no ‘lack of training’ excuses. Now it was not very long ago that Nicol
could outlast anybody on the court. Every player knew that to have a hope
of beating Nicol you had to play at top speed for at least 60 minutes.
Player after player was a hero for one game and then they would fall over
as the super-fit Nicol kept up his punishing pace.

Let me give you my timings on that
Games final against Power. Power won the first game 9-4 in 18.45 minutes;
Nicol the second 9-4 in 22 minutes; Power the third 9-3 in 12.30 minutes
and the fourth 9-0 in 6.45 minutes. Add that up and you have 60 minutes
of playing time but in truth Nicol was finished before the end of the
third, that was before the 50 minute mark. To further underline Nicol’s
lack of fitness, he had played 40 minutes less than Power in the four
matches leading up to the final.

It was true that Nicol had been made
to do an awful lot of work in those first two games, but a year ago, he
would have survived that. He told the press that he had done the work
for a month in preparation for the Games. He also said that the fourth
was the worst game that he’d ever played. Played is an overstatement,
he went through the motions, a grey, disheartened shadow of his former

When you put the performances of Harvey’s
two top men side by side and see such a similar worrying drop in mental
and physical determination, you have to ask the question Is Harvey too
Hard? Are these two fine players overtrained? Should they both take a
couple of months off and lie on a beach? Just look what happened to Chris
Walker who took six months off to go around the world with his lady. He
came back and almost won the British Open.

Power and Nicol will both be in Hong
Kong for the Cathay Pacific later this month. With Power winning in their
last four meetings, can Nicol get back that spark and strength in time
to push the Canadian for five games? From the draw below Nicol has a very
tough road to the final with Omar El Borolossy, Joe Kneipp , John White
and Lee Beachill all lying in wait for him.

Cathay Pacific Draw

Peter Nicol vs Omar El Borolossy
David Evans vs Joe Kneipp
John White vs Qualifyer
Lee Beachill vs Qualifyer
Stewart Boswell vs Qualifyer.
Martin Heath vs Karim Darwish
Ong Beng Hee vs Del Harris
Chris Walker vs Mansoor Zaman
Anthony Ricketts vs Qualifyer
Mark Chaloner vs Qualifyer.
Amr Shabana vs Olli Tuominen
David Palmer vs Shahid Zaman
Alex Gough vs Qualifyer
Thierry Lincou vs Qaulifyer
Paul Price vs Qualifyer
Jonathon Power vs Paul Johnson.

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