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Ta Ta Linda
By Martin Bronstein, July 16, 2006   
Squashtalk Independent News; © 2006 SquashTalk LLC

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Charman at Brooklyn Heights
Linda Charman - Great Talent, Great Wit . Photo 2006 © Debra Tessier.

Linda Charman - Audio Interview, Jan 2004


Linda Charman was a bit of an enigma: a ready laugh, a cockney sense of humour  but a very tough lady. She took  nonsense from nobody; opponents, referees or press. There was the occasion when the mild-mannered squash writer Elizabeth Burnside described  Linda (who sported noserings and other body piercings) as intimidating.  For some reason Miss Charman (as she was before marrying Laurent Elriani) took objection to this description. She marched into the press room and, towering over Burnside, roared “I am not intimidating!” 

There was just one occasion when I saw this tough exterior crack and that was at the world team championships in Amsterdam in 2004.  Elriani was  getting unexpectedly tough opposition from Annelize Naude but most of all she was getting some dreadful decisions from a referee who had completely lost the plot. Indeed there was ample evidence that referee had not read the book of rules and if she had, had not understood one word. Elriani was getting angrier with each unfathomable decision until at one point she was screaming her objections. Despite this she managed to fight back from 2/1 to win and when she came off the court, fell into the arms of her team-mates and burst into tears.

Charman and Naude
Linda on court with Annelize Naude . Photo 2006 © SquashTalk archives.

Charman has been  one of England’s  top players for  well over a decade: once  that successful combo of Lisa Opie and Martine Lemoigne had retired, it was up to Linda and  Cassie Jackman to take up the reins and, together with Fiona Geaves, present a constant challenge to Australia for the world team title.  Every world championship seemed to end up with these two countries  in a head-to-head and Linda was always there to deliver the best she could.

At her best she was the complete player with a strong physique and fitness to stay with anyone on the circuit. She hit the ball beautifully, could volley superbly and knew how to use the height of the court to the fullest. What she didn’t have, I suspect, was a strong ego, the type of ego that would  keep her confidence on a high.  From a winning position she would sometimes falter and end up on the wrong end of a 3/2 scoreline.  Not that it happened often – and never against lower ranked players. She picked up  over 70 caps for England , a bundle of tournament titles and best of all for her,  a bronze Commonwealth Games medal and finally, after years and years of trying, the British national championship in 2005.

Charman at Brooklyn, 02
Linda Elriani - always a competitor, never at a loss for words. Photo 2006 ©Debra Tessier

She was one of the few women players who could give a good interview, never at a loss for words, peppering her replies with jokes and able to assess the sport and her own game with the understanding of a vet.

WISPA and England’s loss  is the United States gain as she, like so many other Brit players, moves across the Atlantic, to Connecticut's Greenwich Field Club, to  coach. I hope she can pass on her wit as well as her marvelous skills.



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