Kneipp in Toronto
2002 Dan Kneipp)
some quirky things that can determine who has had a good tournament, and who
wishes that they stayed at home doing court sprints. It doesn’t matter
what anyone tells you – size does matter. 5 star tournaments are very interesting
in who they cause grief to. It’s all to do with a player’s average
ranking and what they need to achieve that average. Let me give you a few numbers
to work off first. Ranking is worked out as your average number of points over
a 12 month period. So if in November 2001 you had a great result and got 700
points, then in November 2002 you need to get at least that number of points
otherwise your ranking takes a big dive. It obviously works the other way: if
November 2001 was terrible then it’s easy to improve your ranking the
So let me give you the figures
of some of the top players who were in Toronto to get an idea of their ranking
Peter Nicol (#1) – 1060
Jonathon Power (#2) – 1017
John White (#5) – 404
Ong Beng Hee (#7) – 344
Lee Beachill (#10) – 324
Joe Kneipp (#13) – 240
Graham Ryding (#23) – 171
Rodney Durbach (#33) – 122
James Willstrop (#45) – 77
The system has some leeway. If
over the twelve month period you play more than eight tournaments, then your
worst results don’t count. For ten tournament the average will only
be calculated on 8. This may seem like boring info, but it’s crucial
in deciding what tournament to play. YMG is big enough to draw most of the
top players in the world. But if you look at the draws the Tournament of Champions
is only slightly bigger, and virtually every one of the top 24 players in
the world are there. So YMG draws some of the top players, but the size means
players go there knowing there’s a ranking gamble. The points on offer
1st round: 125
Quarter finals: 212.5
Semi finals: 350
Runner Up: 575
So you can see that the number of points don’t correspond with what
the players need to better their averages. Jonathon Power has had a great
week, but has got about 200 points less than his AVERAGE, which is 1312 points
less than his best result over the past 12 months (PSA Masters winner). So
none of this matters if all of the other players are all participating in
a tournament, so they’re all going to reduce their average slightly.
YMG had seven of the world’s
top ten participating. None of them got more points than their average. At
the Qatar Classic played recently, a tournament that is twice as big, only
two of the top ten didn’t get better than their average (Power 531 for
quarters, Beachill 312.5 for 2nd round – which is only 12 less than
his average). This is all obviously a deciding factor when you’re looking
at who had a great tournament and who didn’t.
Champagne and strawberries
Joe Kneipp. We’ve been writing
a report card for quite a few tournaments and I’m getting tired of not
being able to put my name in amongst the players who have a good result. Of
the 16 main draw players only three got more points than their average. My
average is currently 240 so getting 350 for making the semis will take me
closer to breaking into the top ten. According to seeding I wasn’t supposed
to win any matches at this tournament. My first round match against Lee Beachill
was the first time we had played each other. I think we’re both very
familiar with each other’s game from watching matches. To have a ninety
minute five set win, and then to follow that up in the quarter in the same
manner against John White was very satisfying.
Rodney Durbach. Player #2 who exceeded
his ranking average. His victory over Martin Heath in the first round came
as no huge surprise to many players. When Rod plays well you can see why he
has caused plenty of upsets over top ranked players. In his first round upset
it looked like it was bouncing around the court like it was a jumping castle.
He was onto everything early, eager to volley and getting his body into great
positions to play the next shot.
James Willstrop. The third and
final player who ensured that their ranking will go forwards. His victory
over Del Harris in qualifying couldn’t be a more significant victory
indicating the changing of the guard. One of the past champions of the sport
being pushed aside by a youngster who is seen as one of the future champions
of the sport. Considering Willstrop is still young enough to be the #1 seed
in the upcoming World Junior Championship, then his 45 ranking on the men’s
pro tour is impressive. Over the last six months there’s been comments
on the strength of today’s game compared to past eras. This is usually
by ex-greats who fail to acknowledge the current players and sound sour about
their achievements being forgotten. This is obviously a complex issue and
we want to write about it in an upcoming article. Recently we watched a golf
programme that tried to compare Tiger Woods of today with Jack Nicklaus at
his prime. Golf like most sports is getting more competitive and tougher as
millions more people take up the game. A player from Nicklaus’ era was
quoted as saying that Woods PROBABLY would have been strong enough to be ONE
of the top players in Nicklaus’ day. It was one of the most stupid comments
I’ve ever heard and reminded me of the similar attitude towards today’s
squash players that fails to acknowledge how the game is changing. A great
example was Chris Dittmar saying that Gamal Awad would beat current world
#4 Stewart Boswell TO A FEW POINTS! Ridiculous. No one would beat Bozza to
a few points.
Kneipp vs John White
2002 Dan Kneipp)
thing that past players do agree on is that today’s pro tour has the greatest
depth of any squash era. You never know who is going to win a match because
the men are strong even at #50. The reason I got onto this was thinking about
Willstrop and the future of squash – whether the depth and strength of
the game is expected to continue. Look at the past three World Junior Champions.
Beng Hee, the 1998 champion quickly established himself in the world top ten
and has been a stable presence there. The 2000 champion Karim Darwish is knocking
on the door of the top ten and is expected to be at the top of the game soon.
The player that Darwish defeated in 2000, Gregory Gaultier is currently ranked
25 and only one place away from the significant top 24 which means he’s
a main draw player in any large tournament. (Never discount the runner-up of
the World Junior Champs.) Willstrop, the semi finalist from 2000 and hot favourite
for this year’s World Junior title is already ranked in the top 50. So
it’s obvious that the top juniors coming through the system are already
showing that they’re good enough to match it with the top of the men’s
game and it bodes well for the future of the sport.
Jonathon Power. Despite the usual
theatrics he won his home tournament and gave notice that the upcoming World
Open can be seen as a three horse race (with a lot of outsiders bearing down
on the home straight).
Peter Nicol. He may have lost,
but making it to the final after a bad ankle injury is pretty impressive.
Shawn Delierre. The concentration
of a tournament is always on the main draw. Sometimes the real battles and
upsets are going on in the qualifying tournament. Canadian player Delierre
is currently sitting at his equal highest world ranking of 111. In the first
round of qualifying he beat former world #5, current #27 Dan Jenson in a tough
five setter. Without doubt his best result on the pro tour to date, and possibly
the most significant upset of the tournament.
The Pro Tour. As usual John Nimick
and his crew put on an amazing tournament. Most of the pro players participate
in ten tournaments per year. The Qatar Squash Federation are responsible for
two big tournaments worth $200 000+, Nimick and Event Engine are responsible
for three worth $160 000+. With the recent announcement of greater television
exposure for his tournaments the thought of more Event Engine events is wonderful
for the future of the sport.
Vinegar and Rotten Tomatoes.
Martin Heath, Lee Beachill and
John White. The main draw players who were upset in the first couple of rounds.
Heath’s current form slump has been well documented, with Toronto becoming
the fifth tournament in a row that he has been upset in the first round.
Beachill had a wonderful YMG Classic
in 2001. At the time he was ranked 15 in the world and caused upsets over
Mark Chaloner in the first round, and then the top seed and then world #1
David Palmer in the quarter finals. He was unable to replicate those results
The tour moves onto Antwerp in
a couple of weeks for the long awaited World Open, which has been non existent
for 2000 and 2001. Hopefully someone will suggest to Nimick or the Qatar boys
that they should hold it in 2004 to ensure it gets put on.
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