SquashTalk Player Profiles
Winter 1999 Success
England's Lee Beachill reaped the rewards of playing on the PSA's US Tour in November 1999, in all cases exceeding his seeded status.
After reaching the quarter-finals of the Motor City Open in Detroit, where he lost narrowly to a revitalised Peter Marshall, Beachill headed for the Lakeshore Classic in Chicago, where he was again seeded to reach the last eight.
In the quarter-finals, the 21-year-old from Yorkshire caused the biggest upset of the tournament when he dismissed Australia's second seed Byron Davis in straight games. A 3-0 victory over Canadian qualifier Shahier Razik the following day saw Beachill in his second PSA Tour final of the year - and his second in Chicago since reaching the climax of the Windy City Open in April 1998.
His opponent was Australia's top seed and world No.16 Paul Price, who eventually overcame the Dunlop player to claim the Chicago title.
Only days later, competing in the Pittsburgh Open in Pennsylvania where he was unseeded, Lee overturned the Finnish 8th seed Juha Raumolin in straight games in the first round. He then dismissed South Africa's Rodney Durbach to reach the last four.
Now the only unseeded player in the semi-finals, Lee again faced Australia's Paul Price and, for the second time in a week, eventually lost to the higher-ranked player in a hard-fought battle.
FIGHTING BACK FROM INJURY
A single career-threatening injury would be a major blow to any top sportsman. Three in succession, however, would surely enforce early retirement in all but the most determined.
Lee Beachill, a hero of Eng-land's world junior championship-winning team of 1996, suffered three such accidents within twelve months and remarkably then went on to reach the last sixteen of the World Open as he celebrated his 21st birthday.
Born in Huddersfield in Yorkshire, Lee took up squash when he was eight, guided by noted coach Malcolm Willstrop, his mentor still today. By his late teens, Beachill had won British junior titles at U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-19 becoming only the second person (after world top ten player Simon Parke) to win all four national junior championships.
It was in late September 1997 that Beachill's ill-fated twelve months began, when he contracted salmonella after eating chicken in Portugal during the European Club Championships in which he led his Pontefract club to title success. Within days he was seriously ill in hospital near home, and lost two-and-a-half stone in weight (16 kg) in ten days.
Three weeks after he was able to resume his playing career, he extended England international Mark Chaloner to five games in a British Super League match.
Driving himself home later that December night, he skidded on black ice - and not only wrote off his car but landed in hospital with his back broken in two places!
The hospital specialist's immediate diagnosis was that he would spend at least the next four months on his back and would never play squash again!
Fortunately the Beachill family character does not submit so easily to such negative news and Lee's parents immediately transferred him, despite severe pain, to a private hospital. Here, a sympathetic South African consultant recognised that recovery could be achieved, with a combination of the patient's determination, and intensive physiotherapy and exercise.
Despite being told that it would be six months before he would be playing squash again, with a full recovery in a year, the single-minded Beachill was back on court after some eight weeks!
His tournament comeback was at the British Open 1998. Then ranked 127 in the world, he was required to compete in the pre-qualifying preliminary competition.
Incredibly, six victories later - against opposition which included Pakistan's Amjad Khan, ranked 100 places above him the 20-year-old had qualified for a debut appearance in the prestigious event's first round.
Perversely, he was drawn to play the British Open favourite and world No.1 Peter Nicol, who went on to win the title after ending Beachill's brave run in straight games.
In the USA later in April, Beachill came through the qualifiers in two PSA Tour events in Denver and Chicago - and in both cases reached the finals, in the latter beating the top seed.
In October, he won his first PSA Tour title, beating fellow Dunlop player Billy Haddrell in the final of the Adelaide Club Open in Toronto, Canada. "When you first start on the circuit, you spend so much time trying to qualify for events, that the final rounds seem really far away. So when you eventually get to a final, and then actually win your first tournament, it's a real thrill," said Beachill.
Three days later, though, back home in Yorkshire and exactly one year to the date since he was admitted to hospital with salmonella poisoning, a freak accident led to further hospitalisation when a go cart crushed his foot after mysteriously leaving the indoor circuit track which he and friends were visiting.
On crutches for three weeks, Lee's preparation for his next tournament, the World Open in November, was severely curtailed. However, after beating France's former world No. 13 Julien Bonetat and England's twelfth seed Mark Cairns, Beachill became the only qualifier to reach the last sixteen in Qatar in his World Open debut!
The young Yorkshireman's career is rocketing upwards he has leapt almost 100 positions in the last year to 41 in the March 1999 Dunlop PSA world rankings.
A Dunlop player since he was ten, Lee is impressed with his cur-rent Revelation Pro 3DTi: "The weight and balance is just right and my game has developed considerably as a result."
If the old saying that 'everything happens in threes' is true, then Lee Beachill will be able to look forward to an incident-free future career.
"I hope my jinxed life is now well
and truly behind me, and I can schedule my squash career without fear of any
further interruption," said the sport's rising star.
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