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Martin Bronstein's Global Gallery

His Monthly Views on the World of Squash

June 2000, Gallery # 2000-7 :...Cassie ... British Open 2000 ... Super Series Meeting Place ... Bronstein as commentator ... Sarah Fitz-Gerald ...
World champion Cassie Campion is feeling pretty good.

In fact she is feeling much better than that fateful day in December when she lost to Leilani Joyce in the final of the British Open. Because in the last few months she has beaten Joyce three times on the run.

Cassie is now into the third week of her summer training programme, preparing for the Al Ahram in August and while she is full of optimism, that Dreadful Day in December won't fade away. "That was the biggest disappointment I've had in my squash career. I can't remember ever being that upset about losing a squash match. The nerves just got to me. I think I now have the beating of Leilani. She's only beaten me once in the last six attempts," she said, with obvious satisfaction.

Although we've known the facts for weeks, it is now official: the British Open will take place in the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in October. I for one hope that it will settle there and once more become the major tournament on the calendar, although it will have to be pretty good to compete with the Al Ahram in front of the Pyramids.

The Eye Group people were watching the Equitable Life Super Series finals closely and they were impressed. It was a far better tournament this year and everything had improved by leaps and bounds. And I'm quite sure that the Eye Group were taking notes. I've said it before, but I think the resurgance of major squash tournaments will be venue led; the venue has to be unique and an attraction in its own right. With an eight year contract in place, The Eye Group and the SRA have every right to hope that the British Open will regain the niche that it had attained at the Wembley Conference Centre under a ten year sponsorship of Hi-Tec.

Everybody, it seemed, turned up in London for the Super Series. The main men from Egyptian squash were there and we even bumped into John Easter, one of the classiest players to come out of England. He is now, they say, making a rather decent living in the financial sector. And then out of the blue some bloke came up and shook my hand. Who was this? And then it sunk in - Dave Carr without a beard but still with that incredible brain working at just under the speed of light.

Carr used to run soft-ball squash camps in the US in partnership with Satinder Bajwa, the Super Series promoter. (That was in the days when hardball was still king). Carr was into everything. When he heard somebody in Wales had invented a squash ball machine, he was on the next plane to get the franchise for the US. Unlike a tennis ball machine that just pumps balls out at different angles and speeds, a squash ball machine has to heat the balls first to give the right feel. And as the UK and US have different voltages, Carr had to doctor each machine. I next heard of him being associated with Curzons Club in Toronto, an association that ended in 1995 in circumstances that no-one wants to talk about.

Carr now builds squash courts as part of McWil Sports Surfaces, based in Washington DC. In fact the company does everything, floors, walls, aerobic studios, gyms - everything. "Last year we did $1.5 million between Washington and Vienna based on being the only court building company in the world that can offer all manner of court wall surfaces, " he tells me. Carr's heartening news for squash is that their biggest customers in the US are prep schools for kids between 13-17. This is taking squash to places that it has never been and is yet another indication that the US will host the next big squash boom.

One activity that grabbed my imagination ( because my club, Colets, the English champion could be a prime customer) is Carr's innovation of using panels to re-line tattered plaster front walls. I know at my club that the plaster is constantly being repaired. The cost is about $2,500 and seems a cheap way to get rid of an unending problem. For more info try www.mcwilsports.com. You never know, Dave might even still have an old squash ball machine in his garageĀ….

My career as a TV commentator came to an abrupt halt at the Super Series when I was unceremoniously dropped after the pool rounds. It was an interesting experience, working with different color men, among them Martin Heath, Colin McQuillan from The Times and coach John Milton. They all had unique perspectives and came up with different insights into the games and the players. . I have to admit, I learned a lot from them. If there are any publishers out there, I could do a book of squash wisdom. One thing is certain - the producers didn't get anybody cheaper to replace me; I was working for nothing. There must be a lesson to be learnt there somewhere.

Had a long talk with Sarah Fitz-Gerald who had to pull out of her exhibition series because her knee is still not right. One of the problems with operations is that they leave scar tissue and this is one of the problems she had to face. The keyhole surgery last year has left some roughness and every so often it hampers the movement of the kneecap.

She is still very wary of getting back into competition too quickly and hampering the knee's recovery, but you can see she dying to get back on court and teach Cassie, Leilani and Carol Owens a thing or two. I've been a big Sarah fan since I saw her win the world junior championship in Brighton back in 1987. And not only as a squash player - she's genuinely nice person with absolutely no ego problems. I'm hoping the knee will be ok and she's in shape for the Al Ahram - the WISPA circuit needs her.

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page posted 19-Jun-2000