by Martin Bronstein, Penang,
28 July 2001 (updated 07/28/2001 12:22 AM)
All content ©
2001 Squashtalk. Photos © 2001 Ho Kah Yeow for SquashTalk
COMMIT GRAND LARCENY
Despite over a thousand Malaysians watching intently,
three young women stole a world championship
from under their collective
noses. It was chutzpah on a global scale. However if it would come down
to a court case, both Alison Waters and Jenny Duncalf would get off for
lack of evidence, but Laura Jane Lengthorn (try saying that three times
quickly) would definitely be found culpable.
EAT YOUR HEART OUT PERRY MASON
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, let me state the facts as they happened
at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) starting at noon. Saturday
July 28 2001. Malaysia were favourites to win the women's world junior
squash title by dint of having two players of exquisite skills. Their
opponents in the final came from a tiny island in the Atlantic sandwiched
between France and United States known as England. Their squash players
were good, but lacked the magical racket skills of Nicol David, the world
junior champion and the number two, Tricia Chuah.
However, Malaysia's depth stopped
right there and their number three, Ooi Ean Teng, was not anywhere near
that standard, so when she played the number three from England, she was
not expected to win. So she didn't. She lost to Alison Walters from Middlesex.
(Middlesex does not apply to Liberace but a county near London, in England.)
LESS THAN THREE MINUTES? YES!
Their first game lasted eight and half minutes and the mousy Miss Teng
could not handle the enigmatic game of Miss Walters who can put in some
very unexpected drop shots. She deservedly won 9-4 and then Miss Teng
went bye-byes in the second game and lost it 0-9 in two minutes and 49
seconds. She tried a little harder in the third, keeping Waters on court
for nearly ten minutes but still lost 9-3 to give England the first rubber.
So, I urge you not to judge Miss Waters harshly, she was hardly the Mr
Big of this heist.
DUNCALF IS NOT A DONKEY
Jenny Duncalf was not expected to beat the scintillating skills of Nicol
David, who is so good at 17 years of age that other players should take
their ball and go home in a huff. One Malaysian gentleman told me that
according to the dictionary, a Jenny is a donkey. Most unkind. She is
a very fine squash player in the English tradition - if you like tradition
- but simply cannot summon up the skills of David who beat her 9-1 in
the first game in under five minutes and 9-0 in the second which last
just over five minutes.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury,
this David kid is hot stuff, y'know what I'm saying? Duncalf improved
in the third game but it is academic, David winning 9-3 in under ten minutes.
JUST AS EXPECTED
Now all this was just as forecast . The world, for once, was unfolding,
just as it should. The only question was, who would lose their nerve in
the decider, Chuah or Lengthorn, the latter, you will comes to see as
the evidence unfolds, is the real culprit.
Chuah started off with rhythm and
a complete understanding of the game of squash; she knows how to send
the ball west when her opponent is travelling east. She knows how to kill
the ball dead to stop long exhausting rallies. Lengthorn doesn't. Their
first game was the longest of the entire match --- over 13 minutes ---
and Lengthorn still shows no signs of larcenous intent as she gets totally
outplayed, especially at the front left where Chuah likes to drop the
ball. Chuah wins 9-4, and then takes the second games 9-2 in short order,
eight minutes and 16 seconds to be precise.
A devious one this Lengthorn, lulling everybody into thinking it's all
over and the fat broad is clearing her throat in readiness for the singing.
And why not? Chuah showed no nerves and proved she was in a different
class on the squash court. Chuah got to 7-1 in the third, which meant
that she was two points from victory, from Malaysia winning the cup for
the first time.
It was then that Lengthorn struck.
A penalty stroke gave her the serve and then the referee said 'No Let'
to Chuah. It was now 7-3. And then 7-4 on beautiful backhand drop and
then 7-5 on a backhand drive. Lengthorn then hit a backhand boast into
the tin to lose serve. "Finish it off Tricia " cried the crowd thinking
that Lengthorn's winners were a mere hiccup. But she lost the serve on
a penalty stroke and Lengthorn then made her cunning move, hitting three
winners and getting another stroke to win 9-7.
IS THIS CHOKING OR WHAT?
Chuah was rattled and she gradually got worse, hitting silly shots, not
thinking, jumping up to volley balls that she should have taken off the
back wall, all the while Lengthorn got tougher and better and more confident
and then the possibility of the heist became a reality. She won the fourth
9-4 and when she ran to an easy 6-1 lead in the fifth Chuah was like a
deer caught in the headlights. Lengthorn was at match ball 8-2 before
Chuah regained her composure and there followed some slow, gripping rallies
as she tried to get
back into the groove.
She saved two match balls, and fought
back to 5-8. Could she stop the cup being stolen? No. On the third match
ball, Lengthorn accidentally hit Chuah with the ball and the point was
given to England to make it 9-5. The robbery was complete and Laura Jane
Lengthorn should be sentenced to life in the record books for a famous,
near- impossible comeback.
SORROW FOR THE LOSERS
I felt desperately sorry for the losers, and specially for Chuah who has
been given a hard time from the press here, which, sadly, models itself
on the British tabloid approach to news presentation. Two years ago in
Antwerp Malaysia lost in the final to Egypt again when one of their players
was 7-2 up in the fifth in the deciding rubber. But Malaysia ran a great
world championship, one of the best I have even been to and they have
Nicol David, who can be compared to the Kohinoor diamond.
AND THE UNITED STATES CAME FOURTH
The US failed to beat the racket skills of the Egyptian team and so finished
fourth. A decade ago the US were nowhere in world squash. Now they are
pushing the top nations. I hope they get a tickertape parade when they
get home. Or at least some newspaper space.
(playing order 3-1-2)
ENGLAND 2 MALAYSIA 1
Alison Waters bt Ooi-Ean Teng 9-4, 9-0, 9-3 Jenny Duncalf lost to Nicol
David 1-9 0-9, 3-9. Laura Jane Lengthorn bt Tricia Chuah 4-9, 2-9, 9-7
, 9-4 9-5.
EGYPT 3 USA 0
Sara Badr bt Kate Rapisarda 9-0, 9-0, 9-3. Omneya Abdel Kawy bt Michelle
Quibell 9-5, 9-3. 9-2. Amna El Tarabolsy bt Alexandra Pearson 9-2, 9-4
AUSTRALIA 2 GERMANY 1
Kasey Brown bt Jessica Reese 7-9, 6-9, 9-4, 9-6, 9-2. Lisa Camilleri lost
to Kathrin Rohrmuller 6-9, 5-9, 3-9. Amelia Pittock bt Sandra Ziemelis
9-0, 9-1, 9-0.
NEW ZEALAND 2 INDIA 1
Catherine McLeod bt Supriya Balsekar 9-4, 3-9, 9-0, 9-0. Kylie Lindsay
lost to Joshna Chinappa 0=9, 3-9, 9-0, 9-5, 1-9. Jaclyn Hawkes bt Vaidehi
Reddy 10-8, 9-5, 5-9, 9-0.
CANADA 2 NETHERLANDS 1
Kyla Grigg bt Orla Noom 1-9, 9-4, 9-5, 2-9, 9-6. Jacqui Inward bt Milja
Dorenbos 9-1, 9-3, 3-9, 2-9, 9-7. Ruchika Kumar lost to Margriet Huisman
SWITZERLAND 2 IRELAND 1
Rosalinda Santos lost to Emma Toolan 0-9, 4-9, 1-9. Manuela Zehnder bt
Siobhan Parker 9-2, 9-7, 9-1. Melanie Scarlatos bt Tanya owens 9-6, 9-2,
Final standings: 1. England
2. Malaysia 3. Egypt 4. USA 5. Australia 6. Germany 7. New Zealand 8.
India 9. Canada 10. Netherlands 11. Switzerland 12. Ireland 13. Hong Kong