Sarah Fitz-Gerald in Calgary
FITZ: “ What have I been up to? Well after talking with you about 2 years ago I spent the remainder of 2003 doing exhibitions and promoting my sponsors,” she announced “It has carried over into 2004 and has taken me to some interesting places. Dubai, Luxemburg, Alaska recently. I was in Phoenix awhile back doing my thing and now low and behold WISPA has a new tour stop.”
BARNETT: Time has been kind to Fitz-Gerald. She hasn’t aged a day. Any regrets about leaving the tour? Miss the gals?
FITZ: “I don’t miss the tour whatsoever. I made the decision at the right time for me. Most people get forced to retire through injury or whatever. I left satisfied on my own terms. I have no regrets. If anything I wish I were 10yrs younger and you know I’d do it all over again. (She then chuckles) Maybe be a little smarter the 2nd time around.”
BARNETT: What if you were to attempt a comeback right now how do you think you’d fare?
FITZ: “If I were to comeback right now I’d be top ten. No doubt whatsoever” she states then adds, “Although I have no intention of returning. In my mind there’s nothing worse then losing to someone who I used to beat 3-0 on the tour”
BARNETT: Speaking of beating…this is a great lead into my next question. It looks like another Aussie has been doing her share. Rachael Grinham is perched atop the Women’s rankings. I think back and there was Michelle Martin, yourself, then Carol Owens all ranked #1 as well. What’s the secret? It’s like Australians have dominated women’s pro squash for practically the last 10yrs or so. It’s something in the water right?
FITZ: “I think part of it is we have to live our life, our squash life out of Australia. There is lots of traveling and that forces you to be both mentally and physically tough from the early stages in your career. When you are “finding your feet” or building a ranking you are away months at a time. Sport is huge in Australia. Sport is a main part of the Australian culture. So to use a local saying, the Australian attitude is to “have a go ya mug.” Meaning the crowd or population expect you to be giving 100% effort at all times because that’s part, a main part, of being an athlete from Australia. Once you become established and your ranking improves then you look at establishing a base in Europe. For example Rachael is in Egypt, and her younger sister is in Amsterdam. I also must mention that it’s hard to achieve success without support. In Australia we have excellent government support. For me the VIS (Victorian Institute Sport) is great in every aspect.
BARNETT: Let’s talk about some of the changes that have occurred in pro squash. First, what are your thoughts about the new 11-point scoring system implemented by the PSA and do you think WISPA should jump on the bandwagon?
FITZ: “Even if WISPA decided to come onboard you have the WSF (World Squash Federation) still using standard scoring to 9. Tournaments like the World Teams, European Closed all still use standard. Personally I still prefer for the women to use standard. The 11-point-a-rally scoring in the men’s game is exciting but I feel it takes away the element of fitness. Fitness being one of the traditional facets of the sport of squash. On the positive side it will be great for television if/when squash gets more coverage.”
BARNETT: Recent announcement of squash on the “short list” if you will for inclusion in the 2012 Olympics. Yes/No/We’ll see?
FITZ: “Fantastic…(Long pause) Not holding my breath.”
Fitz-Gerald then thinks some more and continues.
“If it does happen it’s a shame it didn’t happen during my squash tour days. I plan to remain involved with squash and obviously any opportunity to promote the game in any part of the world that will aid this cause is something I’m up for. I’ll do my utmost to be there and do what I can.
Now it’s my turn to pause, I just had a vision. Fitz-Gerald and Jahangir traveling the globe together, spreading the word and promoting the sport. Can you think of two better ambassadors? Anyways back to reality..
BARNETT: Any improvements made in squash now that you’ve had a chance to view things from the other side of the glass?
FITZ: “WISPA has continued to develop the women’s tour “ she proudly states. “They are on the verge of breaking the $1 million dollar mark for total tournament prize money so we’re slowly getting there. I would say from a technical perspective that some of the new courts that are now being manufactured are truly a pleasure to play on. They’re sturdy, colorful, and have great lines. New players from new countries are emerging and are holding high-ranking positions. The Egyptian girls come to mind and are making great strides”
BARNETT: Last question. What does the future hold for Sarah Fitz-Gerald?
“I’m still enjoying playing the game and being involved. I
have 2 or 3 doors open to me that I can walk through so I must decide
which path to take. Here’s something new. I’m now in Masters.
I played a Masters tournament already back home and there’s talk
of me returning to your area and attending the World Masters being held
in Edmonton, July of next year. Short term, I will be in England at the
British Open in Nottingham and look forward to seeing some friends and
familiar faces. I’m enjoying myself. I’m enjoying life and
that’s what living is all about.”
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