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World
Teams Vienna – Preview Part I

 

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

Preview
– Pools A, B, C & D. (Part 1 of 2)

119 men
have converged on Vienna as part of the 30 teams making up this
year’s World Team Championship. Each team consists of 3 men, but
considering
the tournament involves seven matches over seven day, a reserve player
is
vital to allow players a break. Bermuda, a new entry this year is the
only
team opting to forgo the extra player. By the fifth day of competition
when
‘squash arse’ is really setting in they may be regretting
that decision.

Two years
isn’t that long in the cycle of a pro athlete. It’s certainly

nothing like the Olympic or Commonwealth Games where most athletes are
only
able to perform at two, or if they’re lucky three Games. Still,
of the 96
competitors that took part in the last World Team Championships in Melbourne

2001, nearly half – 45, aren’t in Vienna. The most glaring
absentees include
Stewart Boswell, Mark Chaloner, Chris Walker, Omar Elborolossy, Richard
Chin
and John Williams.

Of the
119 players at this year’s World Teams, 33 weren’t in Melbourne.
The
more notable inclusions are Anthony Ricketts, Wael El Hindi, Nick Matthew,

James Willstrop, Victor Berg, some hacker named Kneipp, and apparently
the
English are wielding a new secret weapon – some bloke called Nicol.

The tournament
is initially being played in pools, and then two normal
16-draw tournaments will follow. The top 16 teams will form one tournament,

meaning a team can come second in the pool and still win the tournament.
The
first three days will be the pools. Here’s how the teams and matches
look
for the first four pools.

Pool
A:
[1] Australia, [16] Germany, [17/24] Japan, [25/30] Russia

Australia
David Palmer 2
Anthony Ricketts 7
Joseph Kneipp 11
Paul Price 20

Germany
Simon Frenz –
Stefan Leifels 116
Daniel Hoffmann –
Oliver Post –

Japan
Kimihiko Sano 217
Takehide Nishio –
Takeshi Aoyama –
Jun Matsumoto –

Russia
Alexey Severinov 257
Serguei Kostrykine –
Maxim Shokin –
Andrey Bratter –

Australia
is the current titleholders and understandably the favourites.
Definitely not ‘hot favourites’, but on paper the strongest
team. The
average PSA ranking for the team is 10. If Boswell was able to play that

ranking would drop to 6.5. The closest average to that is England at 19.5.

Australia
along with New Zealand is the only team to attend all 18 previous
World Team Championships (not including Great Britain separating into

individual countries). The Aussies have won the event a record 7 times.

The team
has made two changes to their victorious 2001 squad.
All-round-hell-of-a-nice-guy Joe Kneipp makes his senior team debut for
his
country, eleven years after captaining the Australian Junior Men’s
team to
victory at the 1992 World Junior Men’s Team Championships in Hong
Kong. He
was pipped at the post for the 2001 team by Johnny Williams. Both players

spent the whole year with their rankings seesawing around the low 20s,
with
occasional dips into the teens. Williams’ average was slightly better
so he
got the spot, but his ranking is now 41.

Stewart
Boswell, an integral part of the winning 2001 team has been injured
and off the squash court with back troubles for the last six months. A
line
up of Palmer, Boswell and Ricketts would have been a devastating team
to
field.

This
is Rickett’s debut, back in 2001 he was still gaining the momentum
for
his top ten assault and was ranked in the 30s and mid 20s for the first
half
of the year.

Germany
has competed in this tournament 9 times, including 4 as West
Germany. Their best result was coming 8th in 1993 in Karachi, but could
only
manage 15th in Melbourne last time. A German club team, Paderborn, won
this
year’s European Club Championships, although the competition wasn’t
nearly
as strong as it could have been, and the team was bolstered by Peter Nicol

and Tim Garner. It would be extremely difficult, bordering upon impossible

bar injury for the Germans to beat Australia for the top pool spot, but
they
also shouldn’t have any trouble comfortably defeating Japan and
Russia for
the all important 2nd pool position.

Japan
has competed 8 times, finishing most times in the bottom three places.

Considering the country has only three pro players it’s impressive
enough
that they’re fielding a team.

Russia
is one of the teams competing for the first time. Like Japan they are

a small squash nation that will be able to learn a lot from the tournament

and the players they’re competing against, but won’t pose
an upset threat. I
would love to eat my words.


Pool B:
[2] England, [15] Switzerland, [17/24] New Zealand, [25/30] Hungary

England
Peter Nicol 1
Lee Beachill 10
James Willstrop 39
Nick Matthew 24

Switzerland
Lars Harms 51
Andre Holderegger 107
Marco Dätwyler –
Kevin Villiger –

New
Zealand
Glen Wilson –
Daniel Sharplin –
Callum O’Brien 115
Oliver Johnston 221


Hungary
Andras Torok –
Mark Krajcsak –
Sandor Fulop 241
Morton Szaboky 257


England the #2 seeds are the only other team to have two players in the
top
10, although France and Egypt nearly do. They have won the event twice
and
came third in Melbourne. Their 2003 team has only one player who also

competed in 2001 – Lee Beachill. Paul Johnson has retired, Chris
Walker’s
ranking has blown out to 38, tenth of the English players, and Mark Chaloner

despite being ranked 19 has been overlooked for a younger team. Nick Matthew

and James Willstrop are the youngsters brought into the team because of

recent tournament successes and future potential. It mustn’t be
easy for
players like Chaloner and Simon Parke to be overlooked despite being ranked

higher, but this decision certainly has England’s long-term prospects
in
mind. The mouth-watering prospect of an Australia-England final (lots
of
hurdles first) means the probable matches of Palmer vs Nicol, Ricketts
vs
Beachill and Kneipp vs Matthew. England’s main pool competitor is
supposed
to be Switzerland by the seeding, but I think New Zealand is just as likely

to take an unexpected match.

Switzerland
are making their eighth appearance and hoping to better their
1999 result of 17. They didn’t field a team in Melbourne in 2001.
The squad
is led by Lars Harms, a player that I think has similar game style and

potential to Mark Chaloner, but hasn’t yet fulfilled it. He has
a fairly
comprehensive game and great fitness and when playing well can cause some

grief for his opponent, even the top guys.

New Zealand
has been the perennial bridesmaids of this tournament. They have
come 2nd three times, but could understandably feel robbed at missing
the
title at the 1977 event held at Toronto. There were only 8 teams so a
pool
was played. Pakistan, NZ and Egypt all finished with six wins. Pakistan
won
because of a better win/loss game percentage despite having lost to NZ
in
their encounter. The only time the event has been held in NZ, in Auckland

1983, the home team didn’t do as well as hoped, mainly because their
star
player Ross Norman was unable to compete due to a parachuting accident.
The
Kiwis have been going through a slump over the past few World Team Champs.

Between 1967 and 1995 the team came mostly 2nd or 5th. The last three

performances have been 11, 14 and 17, a slow decline they’ll aim
to stop
this week. The excitement in this pool won’t involve England, whose
1st
placing should be a formality. New Zealand and Switzerland will both be

expecting to take the vital 2nd place and either team could.

Hungary
will probably just make up the numbers in this pool, destined for
the 17-30 playoff tournament. It is the country’s first participation
in the
event. The two players that are PSA members will get invaluable experience

stepping on court with the likes of Nicol, Beachill and the other top

players.

Pool
C:
[3] France, [14] Sweden, [17/24] Austria, [25/30] Slovenia

France
Thierry Lincou 5
Gregory Gaultier 13
Renan Lavigne 25
Jean-Michel Arcucci 50

Sweden
Christian Drakenberg 71
Joakim Karlsson 203
Henrik Lofvenborg 210
Badr Aziz –

Austria
Leopold Czaska 158
Clemens Wallishauser 179
Gerhard Schedlbauer 257
Andreas Fuchs –


Slovenia
Gasper Fecur –
Damir Bezan –
Klemen Gutman –
Miha Kavas –

France
is the 3rd team that could very realistically win this tournament, on

paper virtually as strong as England and Australia. Lincou and Gaultier
are
both capable of beating any of the number ones or twos and both Arcucci
and
Lavigne are very solid players, particularly when the French flag is being

waved about. Lincou has just become a father for the first time –
a girl.
There is apparently no truth in the rumour that she’s already sponsored
by
Tecnifibre and entered in the 2020 women’s world junior champs.
France first
joined the competition in 1987 and had their best result in 2001, finishing

5th. They have the exact same team as last time, with a minor reshuffling
of
the order because of Gaultier’s improvement. Winning the pool should
be
reasonably easy match practice for the French.

Sweden
have played in this tournament a surprising 14 times, most often
finishing in single figures. Fifth is their best result so far, but they

have come sixth on numerous occasions including in Melbourne last time.
They
should be able to dispatch Austria and Slovenia to take the 2nd pool
position.

The host
nation Austria has played 6 times in the tournament, coming 14th in
Helsinki in 1991. They finished 20th in Melbourne. They’ll have
an uphill
battle to win 2nd place in the pool.

Slovenia
is another newcomer to the event.

Pool
D:
[4] Egypt, [13] Finland, [17/24] Hong Kong, [25/30] Bermuda

Egypt
Karim Darwish 9
Amr Shabana 12
Mohamed Abbas 23
Wael Hatem El Hindi 37

Finland
Olli Tuominen 26
Juha Raumolin –
Hameed Ahmed –
Matias Tuomi –

Hong
Kong
Faheem Khan –
Wong Wai Hang 197
Dick Lau –
Roger Nyan –

Bermuda
Nicholas Kyme 170
James Stout 205
Sam Stevens –

Egypt
is the fourth team that could be considered favourites for the title.

Both Darwish and Shabana have shown that on a good day they can beat any
of
the top players. That couldn’t be reiterated more than by looking
at their
performance in Melbourne 2001. The team came 2nd, with the most crucial
win
coming in the quarter finals where Darwish beat Power to help secure the

victory. His game has progressed considerably since then. Egypt won the

title in 1999 in Cairo, and were finalists last time. The only different

between this team and Melbourne, is the swapping of Omar Elborolossy with

Mohammed Abbass. Elborolossy is ranked higher and has a good track record,

but apparently withdrew from the recent African Games due to sickness.
He
was threatened with exclusion from the World Team event if he didn’t
play in
Africa, but was too sick.

Finland
has played the tournament 11 times, coming 3rd in 1991 when they
hosted the event in Helsinki. They had their worst result in 7 tournaments

in Melbourne, coming 12th. The team is led by world #26 Olli Tuominen,
but
then has a considerable standard decrease. The team’s #2 Juha Raumolin
was a
former World Junior Champion, beating Power for the title in 1992, but
was
never able to replicate that standard in the pro game. He hasn’t
played PSA
for years, but Finland doesn’t have any better players yet. Tuominen
is
capable of beating Darwish, but it will be difficult for another Finnish

player to cause an upset to take the coveted #1 pool spot from Egypt.

Hong
Kong has played in the tournament 9 times, but hasn’t had any
spectacular results. They came 18th in Melbourne and would be hoping to

replicate that result here. It would be nearly impossible for them to
beat
Egypt of Finland for the top pool spots, so 17th will probably be the
best
result they can get.


Bermuda is one of the teams competing for the first time.

Kneipp’s
SquashTalk Forum

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