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– Chris Walker

Pakistan Open 2002

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Final Destination

by
Chris Walker © 2002 SquashTalk.



March 22, 2002 © 2002 photos © 2002 Chris Walker. may not be
reproduced without express permission.  

       [Pakistan
Open Draw]
       [First
Day Results]
       [Final
Qualifier]

FIRST NIGHT’S PLAY
IN LAHORE – I WIN

The ‘holding camp’ in Dubai was a success as far as all the players concerned.
We got close to Lahore (less than a 3 hour flight), adjusted to the time
difference, got some practice on some hot courts and avoided plunging
into the ‘unknown’ unsettled situation in Pakistan.

There were some nervous discussions
before we left the runway but everyone was aboard when we took off! We got
to Lahore International airport at just after 2am on Friday morning, and our
concerns were immediately reduced when we were met at the airport and whisked
through passport control and baggage claim.

Security Control in Lahore

It’s not quite Heathrow or
JFK over here, and I looked into one office at customs to spot one officer
catching up on some zzzz’ s (see picture 1). There were 8 eight players and
the organizers had 4 cars assigned to transport us to the hotel. So with 2
players in each car we were given an armed escort (one military police jeep
at the front of the convoy and one at the back) straight to the hotel. The
whole operation from walking off the plane to arriving at the Pearl-Continental
hotel lasted less than an hour.

It was most impressive.

For those of us, myself
included, who had to play later that day it was straight to bed to maximize
sleep before the planning of match day. Every one with their own routines
and superstitions but generally involving a practice in the morning, a
good feed at lunch, some Green Magic (of course) and then rest until match
time.

Security is great at the Hotel

The last surprise that evening
was on the way to the hotel room. As I got out of the lift on the 6th floor
I was hospitably greeted with a smile from a guard, and his Kalashnikov, (see
picture 2) who had been posted at the entrance to the squash player’s sector
of the corridor. 24-hour protection at all entrances to the hotel and our
corridor can’t be bad, the Pakistan Squash Federation had done their job,
no question.

The morning came soon
enough and I just focused on my own preparations – I had been given a
4pm match time and I had got Peter Nicol to reserve me a practice court
for 10.15am. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was going to be
hot out there – the air-conditioning was minimal to say the least and
the air circulation was poor. So I had a light 30-minute hit and made
a point of consuming plenty of water between then and match time.

Show Court under the lights
at Fortress Stadium

I had to play Mohammed Azlan
Iskander from Malaysia, on the regular glass-back court, and won 3-0 though
the score doesn’t really show that it was actually quite a hard match. In
the evening I took a look at the new glass court that the PSF had bought ready
for this, and future events, and have to admit it looked fantastic (see picture
3). Because the first round is split between Friday and Saturday it means
that I have Saturday off to enjoy the squash and perhaps get some more photos.
The match schedules haven’t been decided for Sunday yet, but I hope I get
to play on the glass court on Sunday!

RESULTS: Bank Al-Falah
Pakistan Open Squash Championship, Lahore, Pakistan 1st round:
[1] Peter Nicol (ENG) bt Graham Ryding (CAN) 15-11, 15-12, 15-11 (49m)

Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Mohamed Abbas (EGY) 15-4, 8-15, 15-10, 15-11
[5] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Joseph Kneipp (AUS) 16-17, 15-1, 15-6 ret.
[4] John White (SCO) bt [Q] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 15-10, 12-15, 15-11, 15-7
[9] Chris Walker (ENG) bt [Q] Moh’d Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 15-10, 15-11,
15-10 (39m)
[8] Mark Chaloner (ENG) bt [Q] Muhammad Ilyas (PAK) 15-5, 15-14, 15-4
[13] Martin Heath (SCO) bt Omar Elborolossy (EGY) 15-8, 11-15, 15-12,
15-9 (65m)


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