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> World Teams Vienna – A Short History

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A
Short History of the World Teams

 

Oct
18 , 2003: by Dan Kneipp (Kah-nipe)   [Bronsteins
World Teams Preview

 The 19th World
Championships starts on Sunday in Vienna. It will be
contested by Australia, England, France, Egypt, Canada, Scotland, Wales,

Malaysia, Pakistan, Ireland, South Africa, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden,

Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Austria, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Czech
Republic, USA, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Bermuda, Kuwait
and
Korea.

Pakistan Dominated the World Championships
in Previous Decades (© 2003, SquashTalk archives)

The biennial
event has come a long way from its humble beginning in 1967
when six teams – Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa,
India
and Pakistan – played a three-man team event in Melbourne. Australia as

hosts won the first event, and since then only four other countries have

taken the title – Australia (7 times), Pakistan (6), England (2),
Great
Britain (2) and Egypt (1).

Throughout the 70s the number of teams participating varied
between 5 and
14. The venue was usually either within a strong squash nation, or an
exotic
city. Birmingham, Palmerston NZ, Johannesburg, Toronto and Brisbane all
held
the event in the 70s with Australia, Great Britain and Pakistan sharing
the spoils. The World Individual Championships used to be held at the
same time as the World Teams and 1979 saw the emergence of Jahangir Khan
and the beginning of an era. As a 15 year old Jahangir won the World Individual
title, but for some unknown, ridiculous reason he wasn’t included
in Pakistan’s squad for the team event. Britain went on to beat
Pakistan 2 – 1 in the final, so obviously leaving out the best player
on the planet wasn’t such a brilliant tactic.

Throughout
the 80s more and more countries participated in the event with teams from
Zimbabwe, Singapore, Nigeria, West Germany, Japan and Monaco joining in.

In 1981
Zimbabwe, Singapore and Nigeria performed better than both France and
the Netherlands, two countries that have since become very strong squash
nations.

Stockholm,
Auckland, Cairo and London all hosted the event in the 80s and each time
Pakistan won. New Zealand, Australia, England and Egypt all shared the
minor placings over the decade, sportingly varying the order. Sweden came
an impressive 6th in ‘81 as the host nation, but showed in ’79
and ’83 that it wasn’t a result inspired by a home crowd as
they placed 6th three tournaments in a row.

The 80s looked like it were going to be a total Pakistan
whitewash until
1989 in Singapore when Australia was able to win the trophy back. It was
the
same year that non-Commonwealth countries showed the strength and
participation that squash was beginning to have worldwide. Finland came
6th,
Sweden 7th, West Germany 10th, France 12th, Netherlands 13th and Spain
14th.
Kuwait, Italy, PNG and Japan all participated.

The 90s saw the event hosted by Helsinki, Karachi, Cairo
twice and Petaling
Jay in Malaysia. Australia, Pakistan and England shared the top prize,
with
Egypt finally taking the winner’s dais for the first time, as tournament

hosts – but on their second attempt.

The event was held in Melbourne again for the new millennium,
and again the
home team took the title.

This year in Vienna there are six new countries that have
never before
contested the World Men’s Team Championships. They are the Czech
Republic,
Bermuda, Hungary, Korea, Russia and Slovenia. Over the 37-year history
of
the event 48 different countries have been on court as a team. 30 will
take
part this year, which means that there are 16 teams that have at some
stage
taken part in the competition, but for different reasons aren’t
involved
this year (West Germany and Great Britain are the reason these figures
don’t
add up). The missing teams are:

Argentina
Belgium
Brazil
Denmark
Greece
India
Kenya
Monaco
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
PNG
Portugal
Singapore
Spain
Zimbabwe

Most of these countries are squash minnows, with the exceptions
of Belgium,
Denmark and Spain. Belgium has produced a homegrown top-ten player, has
a
strong league, a vibrant squash community and is the base for the current

world champion. Yet the country has only participated a miserly once in
the
World Teams. Considering that they nearly border the host country and
could
drive to the event, it is disappointing they don’t have a team involved
this
year.

Denmark, or Team Korsberg as it should be called, have
attended this
tournament 8 times in total but have given 2003 a miss. At the 2001 event

they came16th, ahead of New Zealand and the States. The two strongest

players in Denmark are Mikkel and Mads Korsbjerg. With Mikkel’s
ranking a
respectable 56, they could have posed the threat of an upset.

But the most disappointing absentee is Spain. The country
is currently
experiencing its best squash success and there’s a strong push within
the
country to get more tournaments and better players. They had a four star

tournament in June that attracted the likes of Nicol and Ricketts, and
they
just had a WISPA event that was won by a local girl. Their top male, the
new
whizzkid on the block Borja Golan is ranked 43, and they would be able
to
field a team of four including a reserve with all players ranked above
120.
That is better than Scotland, Finland, South Africa, Germany, Hong Kong,
New
Zealand, Sweden, Austria, Japan, Mexico and the States.

Borja Golan was a glaring absentee at December’s
World Open. Not because he
wasn’t good enough, or didn’t have a space in the draw, but
because there
was a muddle up with his entry, which was apparently supposed to be the

responsibility of the federation (although it always comes down to the
pro
making sure of the entry – you only make this mistake once). It
wouldn’t
surprise me if Spain’s absenteeism was due to an administrative
error.

With the tournament about to start, it now doesn’t
matter which countries
are missing. What’s important is that there is a tournament that
has 30
horses racing, 5 genuine contenders and between two and four dark horses

capable of making a last minute gallop down the straight. Preview coming

soon.


Kneipp’s
SquashTalk Forum

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or comments, please email us at dan@teamkneipp.com.
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column together with our responses. We hope to get a good dialogue
started!

 

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