THAT’S WHAT I CALL INFLATION
Well it finally happened: the squash players went to Boston Symphony Hall
and played squash on a glass court. Despite Osama Bin Laden, the PSA,
busted glass panel and a blackout, the US Open finally happened in the
that should become its home for the foreseeable future.
The broken glass panel was
replaced by a borrowed Perspex panel which
was to serve for a couple of days until a new panel was flown in from
Germany. A price of $1200 was mentioned but two days later, the price
had risen to $6,000 and the ASB said ‘No thanks, Perspex is just
fine.” It wasn’t the back wall Perspex panel that was the
problem, it was the floor. The sweat simply didn’t sink in and lay
on the surface, making it pretty hazardous. Strange, they’ve never
had the problem before. It certainly made the final less than gripping…never
seen Stewart Boswell so annoyed – he’s normally
such a placid type.
IS IT ALL TOO BRITISH?
There was another guy in Boston who was also not too placid. Can’t
mention any names of course, but he feels that squash is just too British:
he points out that the World Squash Federation has its headquarters in
Britain, with a chief executive who is also British. The Women’s
Squash Players’ Association is in London and the director is British.
The Professional Squash Association and its big cheese are also all-British.
“This means that in world squash there is just too much of a Brit
outlook, it really has to be much more balanced,” he said.
THE US JUNIOR BOOM
(photo © 2002 D Tessier)
Considering that the US squash boom
is gathering momentum all the time, maybe its about time we invited some
Yankee know-how and marketing skills into the game. Gordon Anderson
is inundated with orders for courts, a strange mixture of schools, clubs
and private home. More and more kids are finding superb squash facilities
at their prep schools and the USSRA has experienced a doubling of junior
membership in the past two years. On top of this Aidan Harrison
who coaches the US Junior Women’s team tells me that he expects American
players to ‘do real destruction’ at the next British Junior
Open. He says that 15 year old Lily Lorentzen is great
prospect and a possible world junior champion.
And the United States Olympic
Committee recognised the American Junior
squash team’s accomplishments at the last world championships in
voting them team of the year. There’s more! Michelle Quibell
won player of the year and Aiden himself was named coach of the
year. And then Aidan kindly adds “….must have been those great
articles you wrote for Squashtalk. I know they helped.”
To which I can only say that the US team’s incredible effort gave
me something to write about.
THE BRITISH ARE COMING, BRING OUT THE ZIMMER FRAMES
Meanwhile in Britain, the squash–playing population is ageing. The
Squash Association (for players over 45 years of age), found this year
entry for the annual 45+ tournament has dropped, while the numbers for
the 55+, 60+, 65+, 70+ and 75+ have all increased. What is happening is
all those Brits who discovered the game in the 70’s during the Jonah
Barrington-inspired squash boom, are all reaching their dotage, and new
players are not coming into the game in the same numbers as the 1970’s.
It is going to be interesting to see what Nick Ryder,
the new boss of England Squash is going to do about it.
BAJ STILL WANTS THE
While in Boston, I managed to make Satinder Bajwa sit
still in his office in
the Harvard University squash building, to talk about the Super Series.
know the original sponsor has gone (bought out three times. Indeed,
Equitable Life are about to go bankrupt according to a news story at the
of September). Baj tells me that he has another major company considering
the Super Series, which he still thinks is a fine and attractive format
eight top players, playing off in two groups and then the winners going
the quarters etc. It allows the paying customer to see four matches in
evening as well as seeing all eight players in action, which is not a
bang for a buck. He tells me that he is still talking to England Squash
about getting involved in the British Open (which as far as I know still
yet to find a sponsor for next year). And on top of all this, Baj has
offered his services to Jansher Khan, who is making a
comeback. Baj sort
of gives the impression he quite likes the sport doesn’t he?
HOLD THE PRESSES…..
For all those Peter Nicol fans ready with the greenbacks
in their hand to
buy his book, co-authored with Brit journalist Alan Thatcher
for last May, you’ll just have to keep on waiting. Nicol has put
a hold on
the book because he feels the timing is not right. Maybe he want to win
world open again before telling his story. But it looks like you won’t
have it for Christmas.
HAVE SOME MORE MADEIRA,
In my last Gallery, there was a photo of a quite magnificent building
Madeira that housed a single squash court. It brought a rapid response
Portuguese coach Jose Manuel Pimento who not only sent
me the following
note, but an illustration of the first court built in Portugal in 1910.
Squash Court in Portugal ca. 1910 at 1910 British Country
Club (Quinta Magnolia) Madeira.
“ I am sending you maybe
the only document from the first squash court in Portugal, where I did [coached]
most of Portuguese squash players, good ones. The court where you have been
is already the second one, and I must say is probably the worst one we have.
What a pity they have demolished this one, in spite of I ask don’t do, but
you know politician people. I can talk like that because I am the one who
initiate this sport in Portugal.
Thank you very much, Best regards, JMPimenta
MIKE OR JAHANGIR?
In a couple of weeks, the great, good and important people of squash from
around the world meet in Kuala Lumpur for the AGM of the World Squash Federation.
Sadly it will mark the end of Susie Simcock’s reign as president and
the assembled delegates will have to decide who will take on the title (they
will never fill her shoes). It’s a two-man race between Jahangir Khan
and Mike Corby. Now I thought that would be a shoo-in for the great Jahangir
based on his huge reputation in squash, but one of my Deep Throats in a far-away
land says that it may be a lot closer…. Mike Corby knows how to press