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Rodney
Martin, HiTec

… Egypt , Toronto, PSA responds

GLOBAL GALLERY September
2003

Martin Bronstein’s astigmatic view of the
world of squash

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

Better
late than never…

Congratulations to the Egyptian girls who swept up all the honors in the
recent World Junior championship in Cairo. I know this is a bit late,
but I
want to put it on record (as I was not at the event) that I think the
players – and the Egyptian Squash Federation – have pulled off what can
only
be a minor miracle. A decade ago Egyptian women weren’t even competing
in
squash at any level. It has taken them about five years to produce a bundle
of brilliant young players, led by the glowing talent of Omneya Abdel
Kawy,
who won the individual title and then led her colleagues to the team title.
Really, there was no other player and no other country with the remotest
chance of beating them.

The Egyptian
women have shown how fast things can change. When I lived in
Canada 20 years ago, the thought of Canada producing a world men’s champion
was laughable and yet along came Jonathon Power and made it all a reality.

There’s
a lot of activity going on in USA squash world these days – the
number of Brits and Aussies moving there to coach is growing apace – and
there must be those who think the US will never make a dent in world
squash. But mark my words, within a decade, they will have produced a
player who will be challenging for top ten status and their men’s and
women’s teams will be challenging for top honours. Remember two years
ago in
Penang, the US junior women came fourth, beating Australia in the process.

For
Richer or Pohrer, For Better or Worse…..

Natalie Grainger has had a hectic three years: three countries and two
changes of surname. She left South Africa for England to get greater
financial support, then moved to the States when she married an American.
She then became Natalie Pohrer. This lasted 18 months, sad to say, and
now
she is single again and back to being Natalie Grainger. (I do wish these
women would stop changing their names when they get married, it screws
up
the record books. Cassie Jackman, then Cassie Campion and then Cassie
Jackman again. Drives a journalist crazy. Either stop changing names or
get
some advice on choosing husbands).

I met
Natalie at the US Open in Boston where she was having a squad session
with the US Junior team at the gleaming new Squashbusters facility. She
is
definitely staying in the US, living in Mark Allen’s apartment in Washington
DC and will continue in her post as US Junior women’s coach. She will
also
be leading the US women’s team at the next world championship.

Heidi
High, Rodney Roped.

I am truly delighted to be able to bring you an exclusive: Heidi Mather,
that gorgeous Aussie squash player, has made an honest man of Rodney Martin,
who is not gorgeous but one of the great squash players of recent times.
They got engaged just six weeks ago and they were both in Boston at the
US
Open, Heidi sporting a ring that must have cost Rodney an arm and a hip.
Talking of which, that dreadful hip that cut his dazzling squash career
short, has been replaced and Rod is playing again. He played a tournament
in
Aussie a few months ago, but just laughed when I suggest that he get back
on
the PSA circuit. He did say that he and brother Brett (the strongest wrist
in squash) who is working in Connecticut, may team up together for the
booming doubles circuit. Rod is managing to keep his job at the Australian
Institute while spending six months in New York coaching two US kids.
My
guess is he too, like so many countryman, has his sights set on an American
green card.

And the
marriage? Not until 2005.

Does
This Mean I’m Sponsored?

Back in the eighties Hi-Tec shoes wore out in months. My latest pair of
Hi-Tec Adrenalin have lasted over three years and sadly the toe cap has
finally worn away. (Joe Kneipp, having watched me play, says the reason
I
don’t wear out the shoes is because I stand in one place.)

Anyway,
I desperately wanted to get my hands on a pair of the latest Hi-Tec
Adrenalin Elite 500’s and decided that as squash shoes were a form of
transport, maybe I could trade in my old Hi-Tecs on a new pair, just like
they do with cars. I was gently informed by my American friends that is
not
done. Anyway, Arnie Berman, the North American distributor
for Hi-Tec, heard
about my cravings and kindly sent me – all the way from California to
Boston- a pair of Elites with his compliments. Why? Because Arnie is a
fan
of Squashtalk and a friend of Ron Beck, Squashtalk’s founder. Thanks Arnie.
Does this make me a sponsored player? Can we talk about bonuses?

Toronto
is On again

It is with great relief that I hear John Nimick’s Toronto
tournament in
November, which had been reported as cancelled, is on again. It seems
that
he lost the main sponsor YMG and with no replacement in the offing, I
heard
through the transatlantic tom-toms that the tournament had been cancelled.
The tournament is definitely on, with Pace Credit Union
stepping in as name
sponsor to ensure that it all takes place at BCE Place in Toronto, November
17-20. I shall of course be there reporting for Squashtalk as well as
spending time with all my old Toronto friends.

THE
BIG YELLOW

The doubles tour in the US and Canada is growing and beginning to attract
a
solid following among squash fans. Gary Waite must take
much of the credit
for its success and the creation of the International Squash Doubles
Association (ISDA). He is also, with Damian Mudge the leading winners
– by a
mile. Waite is also the founder of Harrow rackets, recognisable by their
bright yellow livery. One of his range is a special doubles racket featuring
a wide frame (still only weighing in at 160grams) which a lot of big
hitters are using for singles. Only available in the US right now and
not
keen to get into the very competitive European market. I offered to break
the market open by using one of their rackets, but they couldn’t meet
my
terms. Or maybe they didn’t want their racket to be seen in the hands
of a
68 -year old hacker.

Plus
ca change….

Following on from my piece about the wayward antics of ProCam, the Indian
promoter and their none production of the world opens in the August Global
Gallery, Squashtalk has received the following email:

The
PSA, and in particular Gawain Briars, are understandably aggrieved at
your latest sniping in the August Global Gallery on the SquashTalk website.

There
are a number of facts which Gawain would like you to correct:

1.
PSA did not "take back" the rights to the Melbourne 2000 World
Open to
give to ProCam. Those rights remained with and belonged to Eye
Group/Melbourne. The ProCam deal commenced with 2001. But due to adverse
global trading and sponsorship conditions they were reluctantly forced
to
void their full contract with PSA for the World Opens, in late 2001
with the
result that it was too late to source an alternative promoter/host for
the
event that year.

Melbourne/Eye
Group failed to secure sponsorship and so had to reduce the
event down to such a size that top players could no longer enter. Because
this action by Melbourne/Eye resulted in their cancellation of the PSA
World
Open 2000, the non refundable deposit was left with PSA, as is normal
business practice, to cover its usual office/administrative costs, as
would
be applied to any event on the world circuit.

2.
Pakistan have not "jumped in to bail PSA out", and the PSA
believes they
would be most offended to hear that. PSA has been in talks with at least
two
potential promoters of the World Open 2003 for over 12 months. Last
month,
Pakistan won the rights to host the World Open and a formal announcement
was
made to that effect.

Furthermore,
Gawain points out that your next piece, on the British Open,
"incorporates an insight and understanding of the world of the
continuously
challenged promoter, though it meanly makes no reference at all to PSA’s
pivotal input into ensuring the event would happen at all this year."

I
would be grateful if you would ensure that the above points are conveyed
as soon as possible on SquashTalk

Best
wishes

Howard
Harding.

I stand
by my version of the Melbourne 2000 event and I can assure
Squashtalk readers that the Melbourne promoters will reject Briars’
version
of events. Ted Wallbutton of the WSF will also confirm that he hurriedly
had
to come up with a new ‘World Championship tournament to replace the world
open.

As the
PSA made no formal announcement regarding the disintegration of the
Procam five-year contract, ( in contrast to the huge fanfare when the
contract was signed four years ago) we journalists have to put our own
interpretation to Pakistan taking over. I’m quite sure a lot of work went
into the re-arrangement and I am truly delighted that the 2003 is in such
good hands.

As a
rule, Briars always gets hot under the collar with stories that
contain facts that put him and the PSA in a less than golden light. At
which
points he accuses the writer of inaccuracies etc. It’s a knee jerk
reaction
which probably makes him feel better. He has yet to prove one inaccuracy
in
any of my stories. He may not like my interpretation of events but then
I
don’t like his interpretation professional conduct of a chief executive.
Nevertheless, Squashtalk will always give readers a right of reply and
are
happy to publish the above.