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In Ireland
… Dublin, Temo the Mexican, Refereeing for love
of the game, where are they now

GLOBAL GALLERY May
2003

Martin Bronstein’s astigmatic view of the world
of squash

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

A
GRAND CITY WITH GRAND PEOPLE AND AN AWFUL LOT OF SPORT
You
don’t normally think of Dublin as a sport city. In fact 99% of people,
when Dublin comes up in conversation, respond with the word ‘Guinness’.
It is so predictable it is boring. There’s a whole lot more to the city
than a glass of the blackstuff. On the weekend before the Nivea Irish
Open started, they had a huge rugby game between Ireland and England (Ireland
got thumped badly), and the Irish Open Snooker tournament.

I
arrived on the Tuesday for the qualifying of the newest WISPA event (Last
year it was the Nivea for Men Irish Open, a PSA tournament). The imposing
Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club was full of activity, because on the Friday
Ireland were playing Egypt in the Davis Cup. Knowing the Egyptians preferred
playing on clay courts in the sun, the Irish chose to play on hard indoor
courts, about 50 yards from the number one squash court. So I was running
between two courts to keep on eye on both tennis and squash.

The
Irish tactics worked earning a surprise victory over the Egyptians.

This,
and an amateur squash tournament elsewhere in the city, affected the ticket
sales at the squash tournament, but the quality of the squash, from the
qualifying rounds onwards, was very good indeed. Cassie Jackman was playing
well -some say better than ever – but dropped a notch in the final for
Vanessa Atkinson to win a major tournament. It will be interesting to
see if this win will give Atkinson the total confidence that she has been
lacking. She has shown she can play squash at the highest level -it was
just her brain that let her down. (She admitted to Squashtalk at the time
that she needed a good psychologist).

As
well as Cassie looking good, the returning Tegwen Malik looked quite wonderful,
with one of the most complete all-round games I have seen for a long time.
This Welsh 28-year old could well take the WISPA circuit by storm if she
continues her incredible comeback form after three years away with a mystery
bug that, even now, mystify the doctors. Let me put it this way: I would
put my money on Tegwen to win regardless who she was playing.

ALL
THE WORLD LOVES A DREAMER
Two
weeks before Ireland I watched the final of the Wimbledon Cup, part of
the BPSA Prince circuit at the Wimbledon Squash and Badminton Club. (
they actually put badminton in front of squash in their name, but I will
never,ever do that). The club is just a ten minute drive from where I
live. I met and talked with a Mexican player by the name of Temo Gomez.
He had a hard first round victory over Chris Gordon and then fell to Tim
Garner in three. He trains with Garner and a half-dozen other top players
at the Connaught Club, where Neil Harvey has established a hot centre
around Peter Nicol.

Temo
told me that he paid all his own fees and that he did this because he
had a dream: he wanted to play squash for Mexico. Now this was not some
wide-eyed kid with rose-tinted glasses. Temo is 32 years old, a former
Mexican professional soccer star who had to give the game up after six
operations on his knees. He grinned somewhat sheepishly as he told me
that this was his big dream, to represent Mexico at the Pan American Games
later this year. And he was prepared to spend his hard-earned soccer money
to pay Harvey’s fees and all the other expenses involved in living in
England for six month.

At
the time he was ranked in the 4/5/6 bracket in Mexico, so when he goes
home, he has to have improved enough to beat those two other players who
are vying for the fourth team spot. I do hope he makes it; he deserves
to.

ANOTHER
IRISH ENGLISHMAN

Back to Dublin: Trinity College (not the one in Hartford CT,) so the legend
goes, is where Jonah Barrington, a dissolute, hard-drinking student, suddenly
discovered squash, gave up all his naughty habits and devoted his life
to becoming the fittest squash player in the world. He has lived most
of his life in England, in Somerset. His son Joey was born in England
and has spent all his life there. But now Joey is listed in the Irish
rankings, alongside Liam Kenny, the Australian who also decided to reclaim
his Irish roots.

Interestingly
Barrington Senior never played for England or Ireland. In those days it
was a Great Britain team that flew the flag.


PLEASE SIR, CAN WE HAVE PROFESSIONAL REFEREES?
I had some interesting conversations in the bar of the Fitzwilliam Club
with various WISPA members – as well as some parents. (Mr and Mrs Atkinson
had flown in from Holland to watch Vanessa, Mr and Mrs Perry had driven
down from Northern Ireland to watch Madeline). The players were quite
happy to play on the glass back court (with seating for about 140 spectators).
"Rather than spend the money on a 4-wall glass court, better give
it to us for hotels. At a lot of small tournaments we get billeted in
private homes….we would much prefer hotels," said one player.
Another player suggested putting some of the money towards WSF referees.

"In
a lot of tournaments we have to do the reffing and the usual thing is
that we ref the match that follows our own match. So if you’ve lost, the
last thing you want to do is make judgement calls. In fact you really
don’t care if you make bad decisions, so the players get some horrible
decisions. We shouldn’t be asked to do that," she told me with some
feeling. (I should add that in Dublin all the players were in hotels,
and there were qualified referees including World class referee Jack Allen
and International class referee Wendy Danzy).

Now
consider this: Wendy Danzy had a friend who was also in Dublin at the
time, flown there and put up in a four star hotel. He was a qualified
tennis umpire brought in for the Davis Cup. Apart from all his expenses,
he was paid $1,100 for three days work, handling just three matches. By
contrast Jack Allen told me that at one tournament he did over 30 matches
in six days. How long will it be to the day when squash will be able to
afford professional referees?

WHERE
ARE THEY NOW?

Ten
years ago the top ten Men were: Jansher Khan(Pak), Chris Dittmar (Aus),
Rodney Martin (Aus), Peter Marshall (Eng), , Brett Martin (Aus), Tristan
Nancarrow (Aus), Rodney Eyles (Aus), Ross Norman (NZ) , Phil Whitlock
(Eng) ,Sami Elopuro (Finland).
So half the top ten were Australians. Five years late they were all gone
except Rodney Eyles, the lone Aussie in the top ten. Now in 2003 the top
ten boasts David Palmer, John White, Stewart Boswell and Anthony Ricketts
with Joe Kneipp knocking at the door. So Australia back to strength, but
England out of the list with the exception of Peter Nicol (A Scot). How
times change.