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USA Women's Team '03 Criteria Announced
By Rob Dinerman © 2002 SquashTalk; all rights of reproduction reserved
Oct 17, 2002

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The U. S. Women's National Team Committee has published the criteria for membership on the team that will represent America in the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, which are scheduled for August1-17. This will be only the second time that squash is included in this prestigious quadrennial hemisphere championship, which was hosted by Winnipegin 1999, though an annual squash-only Pan American Federation Cup event is held on each of the interceding years, and the women will be looking to improve on their second-place finishes to Canada both in that 1999 event and in Quito, Ecuador in the Pan Am Fed this past August.

That team, which is currently preparing to participate in the World Team Championships in Denmark later this week, consisted of three-time and current
National champion Latasha Khan, her sister Shabana, the winner of the 2001
Nationals, three-time Intercollegiate champion Julia Beaver and Beaver's
former Princeton teammate and 2002 Nationals finalist Meredeth Quick. Their
coach, Harvard Club head pro and former highly ranked WISPA performer Sharon Bradey, has also been named coach of the 2003 squad and she has an ex officio spot on the five-person Women's Committee, which consists as well of
Committee Chair Brenda Grossnickle, Team Manager Karen Schmidt-Fellner,
Director of Team Selection Libby Eynon Welch, a former intercollegiate
champion at Harvard who herself competed on the U. S. Pan Am Fed Cup team in 2000, and Active Athlete Margaret Elias, who captained Harvard's Ivy League
champions last season.

To be eligible to enter the try-outs next spring for the U. S. Team, one must be in compliance with the World Squash Federation and USOC requirements
specifying that she be a current U. S. citizen who has not played for or represented the squash federation of another country during at least the past
three years. Aspirants for next summer's roster must also play in a minimum
of five tournaments designated as Selection Events by the Women's Committee
after October 1, the recognized start of the 2002-2003 season. One of these
must be the 2003 U. S. National Championships, which will be held March 12-16 at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and at least two of the others must come
from the three $3,000 "Elite Events," scheduled at the Harvard Club of New
York January 17-19, at Westchester Squash in Mamaroneck, NY April 25-27 and Salt Lake City, UT May 9-11. The rest of the Selection Events are appended to this article, but any WISPA-sanctioned tournament held in the United States can count towards the Selection Event criterion as well. In addition, any head-to-head match results compiled in USSRA or WSF sanctioned tournaments will count towards player rankings, provided that the player conveys these results to the Committee.

As is the case with both the 2002 Pan Am Fed Cup in Ecuador this past August and World Team Championships currently taking place in Denmark, the roster for the 2003 Pan American Games women's squad will consist of four players, three starters and an alternate. Invitations to compete in the Team Trials will be issued to the top eight players based on rankings, and the final team selection will be weighted 40% on these end-of-season rankings, another 40% on performance in the early-June Team Trials themselves and 20% on the results of the U. S. Nationals.

One area in which the men's and women's team criteria differ is the issue of player exemptions, especially of the medical and or injury variety, in the case of otherwise qualified candidates from the recognized player group who incur an illness or injury that prevents them from fulfilling the tournament exposure requirement. In 2002, both the men's and women's teams were confronted with this situation: Beaver was sidelined with medical problems throughout the entire 2001-2002 campaign, but her trio of Intercollegiate crowns from 1999-2001 and the gravity of her illness persuaded the women's committee to grant her a challenge-match opportunity for a spot in the Trials and to decree that her placement therein, if she won the challenge match (which she did over Dana Betts) would count for 100% of her overall score.

She wound up playing Ivy Pochoda on the last day of the Trials in an all-or-nothing battle for the last available position, which she secured with a 10-9 fifth-game victory, and played mostly at No. 3 during the subsequent Fed Cup in Ecuador.

On the men's side, Tim Wyant had an excellent season highlighted by his advance to the final of the Trinity Open, but a mid-spring groin injury proved so balky that he couldn't participate in the mid-June Trials, though he wound up playing a challenge match a little more than a month later with Richard Chin, the fourth-place finisher in the Trials, who survived that extra-tournament meeting and joined Damian Walker, Preston Quick and Dave McNeely on the American squad that placed fifth overall.

Despite the ultimately amicable resolution of the men's team composition in the wake of Wyant's injury, the men's committee has decided that the increasingly litigious nature of today's society and the number of controversies that have attended such exemptions in the past make it inadvisable to leave any "wiggle room." The Committee has therefore decreed that their best course of action is to establish some hard and fast rules and live wit wherever the chips wind up falling. Conversely, despite the bitterness surrounding the Beaver situation last summer, the women's committee has resolved that a strict application of a no-exemptions policy could well have the potential effect of depriving the roster of one of its
best players and its members will therefore continue to consider such requests, though with the caveat that such exemptions will only be allowed in cases that are documented and verified, and where what happened was beyond the player's power to prevent, as for example the cancellation of a plane flight to a required event like the Nationals.

In this one area, the two Committees are simply adopting differing philosophical approaches to a thorny issue that somehow tends to make an appearance almost every years. But at least both Committees are confident that the criteria they have arrived at separately will result in a fair playing field that hopefully will lead to the best possible rosters to represent America in next year's international team competitions.


Mike Way Toronto Clini c Nov 20 2002

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