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Men’s Top Ten, 2000-2010
Jan 5, 2010, by Ron Beck © 2010 SquashTalk.com , Independent
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A Glorious Decade for Men’s Pro Squash   

We have just completed the first decade of the 21st century, and it was a wonderful and varied decade for observers and spectators of Men’s Professional Squash.

Jonathon Power
Power
and Nicol frequently went head to head from 1997 through 2005.
photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

This was a decade of considerable diversity and evolution in the style and feel of men’s pro squash. An interesting decade to be an observer. As the decade began, Jonathon Power and Peter Nicol had taken full grip of the top of the ladder, succeeding an injured and retired Jansher Khan (who had made one final cameo appearance in Maastricht, with one final fun match against Jonathon Power). At the beginning of the decade, Egypt was represented by the stylish Ahmed Barada, who excited and energized Egyptian audiences, especially at the outside venue at GIZA, but who could never make it past the aforementioned duo of Power and Nicol. And was also marked at the outset by the twilight of the brilliant career of Rodney Eyles and the tragically shortened span of appearance of Peter Marshall. By the end of the decade, it was Darwish and Shabana and Ashour, the successors to Barada’s quest, who had taken firm grip at the top.

And in the meantime, an intriguing, entertaining, diverse and spectacular group of pros filled out an often unpredicable top tier of pro players: the intense Palmer, the electric White, the taciturn Lincou, the tactician Heath, the loud Gaultier, the inventive Willstrop, the workingman Beachill, the stylish Matthew, the ageless Chris Walker, the tireless Parke, the enigmatic Anthony Hill, the efficient Abbas, the unique El Hindi.

Out of these stars, and more, we have selected a neccessarily subjective top ten of the decade. And to those several others who have been left out of this top ten – I apologize in advance – I fully recognize that there were more than ten who deserve mention in this decade’s top ten!

TIED FOR FIRST: THE INEVITABLY LINKED NICOL AND POWER
Maybe it’s a copout, but I don’t think so. Peter Nicol and Jonathon Power were so different, both so much champions, both each other’s best opponent. It is so true that in every individual sport, a champion truly needs a rival to show his best. Power and Nicol were incredibly evenly matched. Their lifetime storyline of head to head results shows, in 43 matches played over more than ten years, Nicol winning 22 and Power 21, each winning 75 total games and Power winning 1737 total points to Nicol’s 1713 (source: Martin Bronstein, SquashTalk).

So give them a tie for first place for the decade. While Nicol held the world number one position for a longer time period, Power, as his career was beginning to draw to a close, put forth an incredible campaign to regain the world #1 spot in February 2006 (a position he had first secured in 1999), at the age of 31.

NUMBER ONE (TIE): Jonathon Power.

Jonathon Power
Power
was a breath of fresh air.
photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

There is a lot to be said about the usually misunderstood and often underestimated Jonathon Power. Power was an incredible presence on the world squash scene, from his first emergence on the world scene in 1992, as a world junior finalist and entry to the PSA tour, to his retirement at the Tournament of Champions in 2006. Fittingly, Power’s final profession match, at that TOC, was against Amr Shabana, who was soon thereafter to take over Power’s world number one position.

Jonathon Power brought a unique level of creativity and squash intellgence, or thoughtfulness, to the tour. Sharif Khan told me, on watching Power in Toronto in 2001, that Jonathon was the only player in the game at that time that Sharif really admired. Sharif pointed to Power’s offensive repetoire, his ability to fool the opponent, and his ability to out think the opponent.

There was no player on tour who every really wanted to have to face off against Jonathon – except his top rivals who knew the road to a win always inevitably had to lead through Jonathon. Jonathon had more ability with the racquet and reaction speed – and ability to think at high speed – than can be imagined. This took away options from his opponents. A drop to the front of the court always had to be considered twice by an opponent of Jonathon. Because even a tiny bit of looseness in that drop would give Jonathon the opportunity to play four or five different possible shots from that position.

Casual observers though of Power as a shotmaker without the premium on fitness that a Nicol or Parke brought to the table, but Jonathon showed time and time again that in his quiet way he was fully as fit as any of the other of them and could battle it out with Nicol, Palmer, Lincou, Parke and Heath as long as they wanted.

Some of the best professional matches staged, in terms of drama, tension, tactics and full court competition on court, were those during that decade between Power and Nicol, between Power and David Palmer, between Power and John White, between Power and Thierry Lincou, and one amazing memorable contest in the final of the US Open in 1999 between Power and Simon Parke. [see also: Power retires and Power reinvented ]

Off the tournament circuit, Jonathon was tirelessly on the road for squash, and continues to be. He is and was particularly popular in his many exhibition appearance throughout South America, where he often appeared with Gregory Gaultier, Amr Shabana, his sparring partner Graham Ryding, and other local stars. Jonathon has since turned his creative energies to squash entrepreneurship, with many ideas still in the nascent stages.

But it’s not fair to close the discussion of Jonathon Power without talking about his bravery. This was a quiet side of his approach to squash, one he did not advertise and kept quite private. Exhibit one is the 2005 Superseries Finals. Power was to face Thierry Lincou in the finals. Lincou had an entire French film crew following him to film this finals. Power had come out of his semi final bout with David Palmer with a knee strain. Power’s wife had told me quietly during the warmup, "I can’t even believe he’s out there. He couldn’t even move first thing this morning." With his knee carefully wrapped, Power not only moved but totally out played and out thought Lincou for a convincing victory.

NUMBER ONE (Tie): Peter Nicol.
Peter Nicol is in many ways the opposite of Jonathon Power. Peter’s game began its life as a game of steadiness, precision, accuracy and conservative tactics. For all of Jonathon’s loquaciousness and demonstration on court, Peter was normally the silent model of decorum.

Peter played in patterns, his rival Jonathon played in counter-patterns.

Peter Nicol. photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

Peter Nicol was the comfortable, contained, voice of the sport – especially in the UK, of course Scotland, and in the well-behaved private squash clubs worldwide. Peter Nicol represents everything many of the sport’s hard core believers aspires to – well behaved, hard working, cheerful, sportsmanlike, friendly, consistency, agreement with referees, agreement with officials, you name it – Peter Nicol represented it.

Peter Nicol’s record of performance was more consistent than his rival Power’s – Nicol spent 12 unbroken years in the world top ten, sixty month as world number one, and won over 50 international titles. Nicol was accorded the honor by the British Crown as MBE.

The other notable aspect of Peter Nicol’s career, of course, is that in the midst of his career, in 2001, he switch his National allegiance from Scotland to England. This was because the British sports support structure offered him a better support and financial package; while Nicol and his father inexplicably were left in the lurch by the Scottish Squash organization, which stated that as Nicol was world number one, he didn’t need their support.

But back to Peter’s squash. Peter reinvented himself during the course of his career. He increasingly pushed the edge of his comfort zone, and was able to turn himself more and more into an attacking player. In 1999, at the US Open, Peter Nicol and Simon Parke staged a monumental marathon contest, which was played largely up and down the court’s walls, and with each player largely knowing what the other was going to play in each situation. That marathon was won by the tireless Simon Parke. Then, in June of the next year, they staged another similar contest, with Nicol just barely surviving at the last point of the fifth.

Nicol’s early career all-out fitness-based approach had other risks. He had the strange case of dehydration against Jonathon Power, which landed him in the hospital at the British Open.But Nicol took all those in stride, and consistently not only played at a spectacular level, but always made it look somewhat effortless (unless you were sitting at the photo-port at the front of the court and could see up close and personal the frequent extreme effort show in the face).

Nicol was then pressed by not just Power, but also Martin Heath, John White, Lee Beachill and others who brought an attacking style to bear, evenetually showing weak points in the defensive approach. This led Nicol to remake his game, and go more on the attack.

And this evolution led ultimately to some incredibly interesting and classic contests between Power and Nicol, Beachill and Nicol, Heath and Nicol, White and Nicol, Lincou and Nicol, Ricketts and Nicol and so forth. All of which cemented Peter Nicol as a great player, the best possible foil for Jonathon Power, and very much the co-player of the decade.

Peter Nicol’s bright likeable disposition, and his readiness to always say the right thing, cheerfully, win or lose, made him natural as well as a spokeman for the sport. He continued his influence on the sport without a hitch, in promoting major tournaments in the UK in the closing chapters of the decade. And as 2010 dawns, he has turned another chapter as well, forming the Nicol Champions Academy, to impart his energy, work ethic, and love of the competition, to a new generation of players in the US. [see also: Nicol retires]

NUMBER THREE: Amr Shabana.
While placing Power and Nicol at number one for the decade is an easy choice, selecting the number three is a harder tradeoff. Our nod goes to Amr Shabana, the stylish, talented, soft spoken and all around winner. Shabana appeared on the world’s radar in unexpected fashion as he almost literally came out of nowhere to win the World Open in Pakistan in 2003, defeating David Palmer, Anthony Ricketts, Karim Darwish and Thierry Lincou in succession, all of whom were higher regarded than him at the time. Of course that wasn’t quite true, as he had had two Junior British Open finals appearances, on in 1993 and one in 1997. But following his 2003 win, he then had a terrible 2004 season, leading observers to view his World Open win as a fluke (which he had won without having to play Nicol, Power, or White).

Jonathon Power
Amr Shabana has had some great moments at the Chicago Windy City photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

During ’04 Shabana was often a very frustrating player to watch. He was inconsistent, often starting off brilliantly, almost unstoppable for one game, then decomposing into a distracting focus on the referee’s decisions in the midst of a match, or simply giving in. Many observers were writing him off.

How wrong they were going to prove to be.

Shabana came out a new man, beginning at the British Open in the fall of 2004. He announced things would be different – he was getting in better condition and he had a wife and was taking the squash more seriously. He sounded serious, and his losing final bout at the British against David Palmer showed the audience some real flashes of brilliance. His fitness level wasn’t quite ready for the likes of Palmer yet though.

The 2005 season was a new story. It was a new Shabana with a new determination. In condition. Consistent. Creative and brilliant on the attack, but still more controlled in his approach. After a consistent series of strong results, in April 2006 Amr Shabana became world number one, a position he held unbroken for 33 months until January 2009.

Amr Shabana brings an electricity onto the court. When he is focused and "in the zone" his ability to attack unpredictably in almost any situation put an incredible pressure on some very good opposition – Palmer, Gaultier, Willstrop, Lincou, Matthew, Darwish and an emerging Ramy Ashour all put the pressure on him, and sometimes won, but in the balance, he had the confidence, the fitness and the complete game to keep all of them collectively at bay for three years.

Shabana’s brilliance, was his explosive attacking front game, combined with a canny ability to slow things down and avoid taking the wrong risks at the wrong time.

Time and time again, I watched Shabana take risks at low-risk junctures, and play more conservatively at high risk stages of a match, luring his opposition into taking the risk at the wrong time. He also has that magical ability to put together a breathtaking streak of points right when he needs to to gain the momentum.

Shabana’s brilliant record has included four world open wins and two Tournament of Champions wins.

I won’t be surprised if he takes back the world number one in 2010, if he can stay uninjured.

NUMBER FOUR: David Palmer

Jonathon Power
David Palmer is always incredibly agile despite his size. photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

In a way, it’s is unfair to David Palmer to be number four for the decade, rather than higher up. There are some special things about David Palmer’s game, his approach to preparation, his journey to the top, and his longevity at the top. On his good days – of which he had many – he was just as good as Nicol, Power and Shabana. There have been some great wins for Palmer, like his British Open victories, his great win over Power in the semis of the Superseries Final in 2001, two World Open titles (in 2002 and 2006) and a very impressive four British Open titles (in 2001, 03, 04 and 08).

David Palmer has been World #1 player for four months in 2001 and one month in 2006.

David Palmer, at 6′ 2", uses his height to great advantage on court, producing terrific velocity in his shots and great reach up front. His style is distinctive, and his combination of power accuracy and touch along the walls makes most players averse to getting involved in down the wall battles with him.

Palmer’s ability to volley and pressure opponents with power are his strongest weapon. When he is able to impose those two tactics, he puts constant pressure on his opponents. Add to that his ability to work and extend points at all times, and it puts his opposition under both physical and mental pressure.

From one point of view, Palmer’s game is fairly simple – none of the unpredictability or explosive offense of some of his rivals. But the attention to accuracy, the ability to hide the ball and create deception with his size and fundamentals, and his total focus, are a recipe for excellence. The combination of these puts David Palmer a close fourth in the decade top ten.

David Palmer, an Australian native, has an interesting squash story, which has been documented in a DVD produced by him and his coach Shawn Moxham. Palmer began working with Australian coach Joe Shaw and Palmer and Shaw were from early days at odds with the Australian squash establishment (i.e the Australia Institute of Sport). Palmer moved to Antwerp to work with Moxham and his career took off from there, belying the predictions of Australian establishment to reach world #1 despite their lack of support.

Possibly because of that history, Palmer has often appeared on court as if there is a slight chip on his shoulder.One of the downsides of Palmer’s game earlier in his career was his tendancy to lose his temper, especially at the referees. He was sanctioned for the entire 2005 calendar year by the World Squash Federation (see article) following an unpleasant doubles match.

NUMBER FIVE: Thierry Lincou

Jonathon Power
Thierry Lincou in one of his many battles with Jonathon Power photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

Thierry Lincou, the Frenchman from Reunion Island, was world number one for two month in 2004 and for the calendar year 2005. A contained, smooth and effortless player, he presented quite a different persona and picture on court than many of his fellow top players.

I would almost say that he presents a catlike presence on court. His game is quite uncomplicated, and presented few surprises or uncertainties. A battle with Thierry Lincou is always going to be a long battle and require you to force him badly out of position to win the point.

Lincou brought a level of excitement and visibility to squash in France that has been quite instrumental to the coverage and popularity of the game in that country. With countryman Gregory Gaultier following Lincou into the top of the sport almost a decade after Lincou, the French team becomes a force in every international team competiton, and the two provide a PR duo for Fracophile squash.

Lincou had memorable battles with all of the top ten players, but his contest with Jonathon Power always seemed to hold particular significance and drama for both players. They are so different on court in so many ways. Lincou silent, quiet and workmanlike. Power demonstrative, protesting, trying to get a rise (unsuccessfully) from Lincou. Lincou catlike, Power pounding across the court. Lincou playing in predictable patterns. Power constantly doing the unexpected. And yet, they were often very evenly matched, only a whisker separating them. Usually, Power had the upper hand, but occasionally, Lincou quietly and without fanfare prevailed.

And in thinking about the legacy of Thierry Lincou, there stands out one famous match at the US Open, with Power and Lincou matched up. Power called an injury break. He was given several hours by the referee. Lincou stood silently pacing, without a word, for the entire time, finally going back on court and winning the match.

In recent years, the rankings and vagaries of the draws have often pitted the two French stars, Lincou and Gaultier against each other. These two wonderful players with such different games and personalities, have always shown great respect for each other on court. Early in the series, Lincou was usually the victor, more recently, it’s been Gaultier whose held the upper hand. Each match though a battle.

And the enduring vision of Thierry Lincou, win or lose, is that of an intensely proud competitor, proud and gracious in defeat or victory.

NUMBER SIX: John White

Jonathon Power
John White- never afraid to stretch out photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

John White, or as popularized in the series of online articles by Dan Kneipp, "McWhitey" has always brought a different and completely unique brand of attacking squash to the game, that can only be described as refreshing. His personality, as well, is similarly most easily explained as refreshing.

Without taking himself too seriously or making much fanfare, John White has, from the beginning of the decade to the end, been near or at the top of the sport, and usually the player anyone in the draw least wanted to face.

On any given day and hour, John White can and will unleash a brand of breathtaking, attacking squash that is almost unstoppable. He is widely believed to have been the hardest hitter in the game during the decade, though the one attempt made to measure speed of the ball using a baseball radar gun, did not work because the speed of the squash ball exceeded the ability of the radar gun to measure.

White’s breathtaking volley and drives into the front court nick could change the momentum in any contest and he was one of the most regular and consistent presences at the latter stages of any big tournament throughout the decade. When White went on one of his uncanny offensive streaks, the opponent was really hoping for an error any error to creep in. It didn’t always. White was one of the creative, attacking forces in the game that force a corresponding shift in the balance of pro play towards a more attacking style.

John White briefly reached world number one, in early 2004. He stayed in the PSA world top ten for a total of 74 months. [read also John White retires]

NUMBER SEVEN: Ramy Ashour
At 22, Ramy Ashour sits at world number one in January of 2010. He most definitely belongs in the decade’s top ten, having burst onto the professional scene in style in 2006, reaching the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong final after beating David Palmer, John White and Thierry Lincou (but losing to Amr Shabana in that event’s final.)

Jonathon Power
Ramy Ashour shows his fresh and instinctive play El Hindi photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

Ashour’s career began with two successive titles in the Men’s World Junior Championships (U19). He was the first player ever to win that title twice.

As a professional, Ashour has, at 22, already won the world Open once and Qatar Classic once and has won a total of six significant PSA titles.

Ramy Ashour’s style is instinctive, fluid and aggressive. He burst onto the scene with an all-attack all the time style of play. This was sufficient, even initially, for him to defeat all but the cannyest of opponents. Amr Shabana appears positively conservative in style when facing off against Ashour.

To succeed against Ashour, one needs to put enough sustained pressure on him to force his attacking approach to become just a little bit too impatient and forced. It takes another strong attacking player such as Shabana, Gaultier, or Willstrop to accomplish that.

Following his initial twelve months of spectacular, though slightly erratic success on tour, when it looked like Ashour was for sure on an immediate road to to the top, a series of small injuries sidelined him. Ashour came back in the 2009 campaign healthier and just a bit less impatient in his tactics, which has boosted his play just enough to lift him to the top this month.

His career lies before him and us to unfold.

NUMBER EIGHT: Karim Darwish
Karim Darwish, a less flashy Egyptian compatriot to Shabana, Ashour, and El Hindi, slots in at number eight on our all-decade list. Darwish held the world number one position for ten months, from January through October of 2009, and it is for that reason that we put him into the decade’s top ten. It was still a hard call to place him ahead of Martin Heath, Lee Beachill, James Willstrop, and Nick Matthew.

Jonathon Power
Karim Darwish battles fellow Egyptian Wael El Hindi photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

Darwish won the British Junior Open in 1999 and the Junior World Open in 2000. He has a compact and efficient style on court, with some special offensive capabilities and flourishes. His professional career from 2000 through the beginning of 2008 was an unspectacular one. He from time to time showed wonderful flashes of brilliance, often to disappoint at the last moment of a match or event in a string of just barely missed attacking shots and apparent loss of confidence, that were the difference before spectacular brilliance and pedestrian losses.

But in 2008, Darwish put himself all together, and produce excellent consistency throughout the season. While reporters kept waiting for him to falter as usual, he didn’t, and partly due to Shabana’s and Ashour’s absence by injury, Darwish took over the top position in 2009.

2010 will show us whether Darwish has lost that edge of confidence he maintained throughout 2008 and 09, or whether he regains it and again challenges Shabana, Gaultier, Ashour and Matthew for the top.

NUMBER NINE: Gregory Gaultier
Gregory Gaultier is the irrepressible perrenial unruly outsider in the cadre of PSA pro squashers. Early on in his career Gaultier was brash and extremely outspoken with both opponents and referees, earning him a deservedly mixed reputation, which he is still working to improve on and turn around.

The fact is that Gaultier is, and has been from the outset, an incredibly talented and self-assured player and has every ingredient to move to the very top. A friend of Jonathon Power’s, Gautier has quite clearly in some ways molded his offense in the manner of Jonathon.

Jonathon Power
Gaultier explains himself during his great win over Shabana at the US Open in 2006 photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

Gaultier early on put himself at loggerheads with some of the other pros, nearly coming to blows with both Nick Matthew and James Willstrop in an international team contest between France and England. Gaultier’s propensity to be demonstrative is somewhat exaggerated by his non-perfect command of English language syntax, so that his remarks often come off even more combative than they are possibly intended to be.

But Gaultier speaks, principally with his racquet, and in that context boy does he speak. Extremely quick and with fast reflexes, Gaultier has perfected an unpredictable attacking pace that puts most opponents on edge and under pressure. Gaultier has had some great contests with Shabana, Willstrop, Palmer, Matthew and Ashour which are among the best matches to watch in terms of tactical variety. Gaultier had a great win over Amr Shabana in the US Open final in Boston in 2006, which had followed a strong win in the semis over David Palmer.

Gregory has flirted with the world number one since the retirement of Power in 2006. His spectacular matches and results have been counterpointed by other inconsistent appearance as well as several injuries.

He has a strong potential to challenge for number one in 2010 and 2011.

TIED FOR TENTH: Chris Walker
Chris Walker might be an odd choice for number ten, but we don’t think so. Chris Walker was a consistent and highly durable player, and pulled off one of the most amazing squash moments in history, by reaching the British Open finals in 2001 as a qualifier, the first time that has ever been done. What is even more amazing than that result is that for much of the prior year, Walker had completely taken time away from the squash court, taking an around the world trip (not involving squash) with his girl friend.

Jonathon Power
Chris Walker does battle with John White photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

While rarely at the top, Chris Walker was often the bridesmaid. For years the sparring partner and traveling partner of Peter Nicol, Chris Walker is a wonderful player in his own right. But really, there is no way to leave Chris out of the decade’s top ten especially following his late career run to the finals of the British Open. Chris’ highest career PSA ranking was #4.

With 2001 as the beginning of the twilight of Walker’s PSA career, he wouldn’t be in the running for a top player of THIS decade, except that Walker has constantly kept himself in the limelight through a series of on and off court squash ventures, all creative and all furthering the sport.

Walker has successfully made the transformation from PSA to the US-based ISDA doubles tour, where he has become a top star and top ranked doubles player through the present.

Additionally, he has made various appearance in US-based events.

Off court, Walker has been a driving force behind a squash center in San Diego, an associated Urban squash program and an ongoing series of squash camps.

Taking a cue from Peter Nicol, his sparring partner, Walker plays a quite similar style, and parlayed an uncomplicated though extremely sound and complete game into the higher echelons of the sport

TIED FOR TENTH: Lee Beachill

Jonathon Power
Lee Beachill at the US Open photo © 2010 Debra
Tessier.

Having put Chris Walker in as the "wildcard" as number ten of the decade, we really need to be fair to the career and talent of Lee Beachill and recognize him as the co-number ten player of the decade. Lee Beachill was almost entirely silent on court – subscribing to the Malcolm Willstrop north-England style of squash, and came loaded with a complete repertoire of talent, shotmaking and tactices. Early in his career, Beachill was sidelined by several off court accidents, which may have played a role in ultimately shortening his career.

While Beachill’s game gave the appearance on the surface of bearing similarities to the rest of the stable of English pros playing the PSA circuit, based around fundamentals and largely conservative in style, in Beachill’s case there was a considerable extra dose of racquet skills, court intelligence, terrific demeanor, and unobrusively honed attacking shots, that gave fits to many of his oppponents. In Lee Beachill’s case, just that little bit extra spin, angle, sharpness and precision turned was at first appearances would look to be a working shot into a dangerous attacking foray or sometimes an outright winner. Watching Lee Beachill play was a terrific lesson in how to best use all the angles of squash, the positions on the court and movement to gain just that little bit extra advantage with just that little bit more economical motion than the opponent. With Lee Beachill, it was often a matter of centimeters or millimeters that would open up the weaknesses in whoever he was playing.

HONORABLE MENTION: The players here at the end of this article don’t really warrant the term "honorable mention". They are very much more that that. But surely, a top-ten has to leave off a number of figures who really belong up there. So we’ll mention the most important of these, and touch on the key roles these players played, also, in the first decade of the 21st century.

Martin Heath from Scotland was throughout his career marked as the "other guy from Scotland". Nicol was Edinburgh/Aberdeen, Heath Glasgow. Nicol steady, Heath explosive. Martin Heath is a wonderful attacking, offensive player, who in the first half of the decade very much gave Nicol, Power, Palmer and White all they could handle. A great player who is now showing himself a great coaching, having taking the University of Rochester on a meteoric rise to second best college team in the country (from nowhere).

There was a Windy City Open in 2006, when any one of several players could have taken over world number one by winning. One of those was James Willstrop. This has been the lot for Willstrop – a fantastically versatile player, a wonderfully smart player, with a great pressure, attacking game, but who has just barely fallen short, so far, of reaching to number one. Willstrop has been defined in recent years by a whole series of matches with his north-England rival Nick Matthew, a series which he dominated for some time – always by a close margin – but has fallen on the short end of recently. By several fantastic matches against Shabana and Ashour. One other thing about Willstrop, he always seems to perform at his best at home in England. He’s had great results at the Canary Wharf, the Mamut, and the Superseries Finals.

And then the other part of the Yorkshire duo. Nick Matthew. Nick has come off an injury spell with a terrific run of results, leading to his Jaunary 2010 best ever number two in the world position.

… Joe Kneipp, Simon Parke, Anthony Ricketts … Well — there are some terrific squash figures who only made it onto this honorable mention list for the decade. I apologize to them, they are all terrific players with great accomplishments. Simon Parke was a remarkable player and competitor. He once remarked to me, once I have convinced my opponent that no matter what he does I won’t stop running and getting to the ball, I have achieved my key goal. For Parke, his finest PSA moment was his remarkable run through the US Open in 1999, when he left each and every fan speechless by his successive-night marathons, beating Peter Nicol and Jonathon Power in succession, each in an extremely long and close-all-the-way five games. For Ricketts a wonderfully complete game and attacking repertoire was sadly cut short as he was force to retire with chronic injury. For Joe Kneipp, a remarkable racquetman from Australia, a brilliant ability to play the game never quite all came together, as his lack of ability to completely focus himself for a complete season all of the time, left him as a dangerous and remarkable foe, who however, only reached the top eight for a brief juncture.

… and as for the future stars, Mohamed El Shorbagy has come onto the scene just a lit bit too late in the decade to make it onto this list, but early enough to make it quite clear he will be a force to be reckoned with over the next several PSA campaigns.

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Historical information PSA Men's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1996 Jansher Khan Ahmed Barada  
1997 Peter Nicol Jansher Khan  
1998 Ahmed Barada Martin Heath 15/5,15/17,15/13,13/15,15/13
1999 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15-9, 15-13, 15-11
2000 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15/14, 9/15, 15/3, 15/12
2001      
       
       

 

Historical information PSA Women's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1997 Sarah Fitz-Gerald Michelle Martin  
1998 Michelle Martin Cassie Jackman  
1999 Michelle Martin Carol Owens 9-6, 9-0, 10-9
2000 Leilani Joyce Carol Owens 8/10, 9/7, 9/5, 3/9, 9/5

 







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