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… TOC musings, professor Heath, Martin brothers, more


Martin Bronstein’s astigmatic view of the world
of squash

© 2003 All rights
reserved. photos © 2003, Suashtalk, D. Tessier,


This is being written while the buzz of the Tournament of Champions is
still keeping me on a high. Promoter John Nimick believes in starting a
tournament low key and building on it each year. This year’s tournament
was shifted a month to the end of February (which meant I was not in the US
SuperBowl weekend which is always a hoot) and increased to a 32-man draw
with prize money up to $72,000. Grand Central Station is the perfect
location and there must have been thousands of Americans who had never
seen squash before who and stopped to have a look and stayed, oohing and aahingat
the deeds of the top players taking part. What they perhaps didn’t
realise was that their FREE view, through the front wall, is the best
there is, even though the expensive corporate boxes are behind the back wall.

dies hard.

observed the progress of John Nimick from chief of the PSA to number one squash
promoter, I am full of optimism for the British Open, which Nimick will run
with John Beddington for the next three years. Nimick’s three rules for success
are Location, Location and Location. He has told me time and time again, that
if it were not for his locations (Boston Symphony Hall for the US Open and
BCE Centre for his Canadian Classic are the other two) he could never get
the sponsors.

So after
signing the deal with England Squash for the British Open, Nimick and Beddington
spent three days driving around London looking at possible sites in all the
new buildings. So if anybody knows anything about London architecture, Nimick
does. He hasn’t seen anything yet that he feels is jawdroppingly different
so he is still looking. If any Brit readers know of a brand new startling
building with an atrium that would take a glass court and 5-800 seats, e-mail
me at Squashtalk and I’ll pass
them on. (By the way, it doesn’t have to be in London)

The British
Open may not happen this year but I am fairly certain that the
2004 Open will be the start of a new era, once Nimick and Beddington have
found the right location and have put their joint marketing skills to

Am I being
prejudiced in favour of these guys. No. I mean, who else is there?


Had lunch with Satinder Bajwa who told me that he was looking for ways
to make the Super Series final in London in May even better. He thinks the
white marquee set-up of the last three years is too claustrophobic and is
looking for a way to open it out, which could mean just a canopy covering
the Broadgate Arena. Trouble is, they are not allowed to anchor anything
to the surrounding buildings.

Baj is
still waiting for a telephone call from England Squash boss Nick
Rider. Baj was in serious talks with Rider regarding the British Open. The
next thing he heard, from a friend, was that the Open had been awarded to
Nimick & Beddington. Not a word from Ryder before or after to inform Baj
or thank him for his interest. Nick, in case you’ve lost Baj’s number at
Harvard University, you dial 001 617 495 4851.


It was good to see both Brett Martin and his little brother Rodney in New
York. Brett played in the qualifying event, beaten by another tall Australian,
Dan Jenson (who is trying to come back yet again, after knee surgery). But
the whisper was that the Martin Brothers are going to link up and join the
very lively — and money-rich — US Doubles tour. The team of former
Canadian number one Gary Waite and Aussie Damien Mudge are winningeverything
in sight and have been for the last two years. You want statistics? I got
’em (well, Rob Dinerman has got ’em).

they formed their partnership Waite/Mudge had won 37 out of 38 tournaments
. They won 24 tournaments in a row, a total of 78 matches without loss. This
streak came to an end in Toronto in February at the Canadian Pro Doubles where
they were finally beaten by Clive Leach and Blair Horler who had lost to Waite/Mudge
in each of their previous 15 encounters.

When I
asked Rodney about the possibility, he laughed enigmatically but gave
a non-answer. I would pay hard money to see the Martins take on Waite and


A small note to the above story: It was limey Clive Leach and Blair Horler
who broke the Waite/Mudge winning streak but Leach had engaged in some
most unseemly bahaviour in a previous tournament when denied a let at
match point (they went on to lose). Gary Waite, the chief of the doubles tour,
then banned Leach/Horler for one tournament. Is that why the other guys
are careful not to beat the chief?


The WISPA ASB glass court looked quite splendid in Grand Central Station.
It is, without doubt, the best court built to date. But there are grumblings
in Germany from companies that supply ASB with their raw materials, that they
are not getting paid. Is ASB in trouble or do they just have a forgetful accountant?


I hope you all read the reports from Grand Central, specially the match in
which Thierry Lincou outplayed Jonathon Power. I found Power’s inabilityto
control the Frenchman quite puzzling and put it down to the fact that Power
had not played since being thumped in the eye by Palmer’s racket, an injury
that put him out of the World Open last December.

But Martin
Heath came by the press room and kindly explained the reasons. He said it
was down to the court, the floor and the ball. Firstly, the glass court is
not as lively as the Perspex court. Secondly, there is more spring in the
ASB floor, "spongy" was Heath’s word, which meant that jack-rabbit
starts, which are part of Power’s game, were slower. And finally, the Dunlop
white ball loses pressure after a couple of games and goes quite dead. Put
together all this worked against Power’s game; he couldn’t move as fast and
the wonderful array of shots he can do with a flick of his racket simply don’t
work with a dead ball.

is why he asked for a change of ball in his quarter-final match against Stu
Boswell. Referee Jack Allen allowed him his request against Boswell’s protest,
saying that if one player requests a change, the referee must accede to his
request. That’s funny; in another match, I think it must have been Power
vs Palmer sometime last year, Power requested a ball change, Palmer said
no and the referee said both players must agree to a ball change, and so
refused Power’s request.


American writer James Zug was in New York reporting for his American
Squash Magazine. His history of the game of squash is to be published in
September and launched at the US Open, when that tournament makes its second
appearance in Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Zug has
been working on the book for three years, and spent time at Eton
and Harrow trying to nail down once and for all the origins of the game.
Knowing James, this could end up as being the definitive story. Can’t wait
to read it and you will be able to buy it through Squashtalk. We’ll keep you


The directive from the World Squash Federation’s Rules & Referees
Committee to all referees giving referees a very clear nudge in stricter dealing
with dissent and time wasting has hard a remarkable effect. The players are
arguing nearly so much and there was hardly a tantrum to be seen. Any
player who threw his/her racket on the ground after losing a point was
immediately warned. Play now proceeds much more smoothly and you see
greater effort to reach around their opponents to get to the ball.

At the
Tournament of Champions and the Arader & O’Rourke WISPA tournament Jack
Allen was sending a very clear message to the players: no cheap strokes
and make more effort to play the ball. This was difficult for some player
who have been used to waving their racket and getting a stroke. Now they know
that they will only get a stroke if it is impossible to play the ball because
of the close proximity of their opponent. The game has benefited and referees
should now realise if they set standards early on, the players will follow.


I am booked to report on WISPA’s first Irish Open which takes place in
Dublin April 1-6. I am pleased, nay, delighted to say that the organisers
are supplying hotel accommodation. When the Irish Open was a PSA event
with Robert Edwards as technical director, no such hospitality was offered
the press. Which is perhaps why the sponsors switched from PSA to WISPA.
Mind you —. Anybody who has met WISPA director Andrew Shelley knows
has a mischievous sense of humour. So when you put Andrew Shelley and April
First in the same sentence —.well, you have to feel just a little uneasy.
Assuming it is all straight and above board, I shall be reporting for
Squashtalk from the qualifications onwards.