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Squash
During Summer

May
20, 2002 by Joe and Dan Kneipp

Many people have noticed that professional
squash seems to slow down to a virtual standstill over summer. For May, June
and July there doesn’t appear to be many tournaments of substantial size.
This is actually typical of the squash calendar with summer being the time
to rest your body and mind. So what am I doing during this time?

SUMMER EVENTS

Dan (left) and Joe Planning
for the next Competition
photo © 2002 SquashTalk, by Misty Muscatel

There is actually two major tournaments
on during summer – the Super Series Final and the Commonwealth Games. The
Super Series final is in June and showcases the eight players who have achieved
the best results in the biggest tournaments over the last year. Obviously
a very important tournament with great money if you’re one of the eight players.
But for the 289 squash pros who don’t make the tournament (including me),
there’s much more important things to think about, like paying your summer
bills.

The other main tournament is the Commonwealth
Games. Most Americans know very little about this competition because it is
not available to them. The games are considered by most athletes (if they
are eligible) as the second most important competition aside from the Olympic
Games. It is played by current and former English Commonwealth countries.
This includes the republic of South Africa which used to have significant
ties to the United Kingdom, but no longer does, making it confusing for me
to understand why the U.S. isn’t eligible to play under the same situation,
albeit with a couple of hundred years difference between their circumstances
and South Africa’s.

Although if you look at the top thirty
squash players in the world, there are very few who aren’t from Commonwealth
countries. The exceptions being Thierry Lincou of France (#5), Oli Touminen
of Finland (#17), Former World Junior champion Karim Darwish of Egypt (#20)
and Tommy Berden of the Netherlands (#25).

BROADENING THE INTERNATIONAL ELITE
I think it’s a wonderful sign of the increasing global appeal of squash that
countries that didn’t have the direct English influence of the game are still
producing athletes of the highest quality. What I would really like to see
in years to come is a top ten consisting of players from countries like the
United States, Russia and Qatar. The United States because I think the game
worldwide will benefit from a greater American presence (I’ll extend on this
in a later article). Russia because to my knowledge they have virtually no
squash courts which is obviously why they aren’t a strong squash country as
they tend to excel at most sports they participate in. It would be a sign
of world squash expansion if they began building courts and challenging the
other countries. Qatar because it is one of the major supporters of squash,
not just at the elite level but also by their staging of smaller tournaments.

These are partly aimed at allowing their
local players to be given a chance to improve their ranking and from there
move on to the next level of bigger tournaments. A country that seems to have
a long term goal of improving their own players while also increasing the
opportunities of the world’s best players is a great asset to the game. There’s
only a couple of other countries that I think have the same squash agenda
– the U.S. being one, Australia unfortunately not so. While we’re producing
the players, there sadly has not been a large tournament held there for a
long time.

I’m digressing a little, I was supposed
to be talking about my schedule for May, June and July. Summer for me includes
playing some small local invitational tournaments, having a short rest, and
preparing for the Commonwealth Games.

I’ve recently played small tournaments
in Luxemburg and Marburg (Germany). These tournaments are perfect to play
as I can make some money over the weekend, have some easier matches and enjoy
the tournament party. German tournaments almost without fail still host great
parties, the enthusiasm for a big beer and a boogie is very much alive and
well.

My schedule for the rest of Summer
is:

May 19th – Go to Paderborn Germany
to meet up with Hansie Wiens, the German national champ and #2 on our Bundesliga
team.
May 20th – Fly to Majorca with
my German Bundesliga team for our end of season holiday together. This was
planned to be nine days in the sun relaxing, with some occasional squash to
stay in shape.
May 24th (in the middle of the
Majorca holiday!)– Fly to London for two games of English league. Normally
playing this league is an easy decision, but when it cuts right into holiday
plans you have to think twice about it. May 26th – Back to Majorca to finish
my holiday.
May 29th – Return to Amsterdam
(tease Dan about how good my holiday was – he will be holding the fort back
home).
1st – 9th June – Playing an invitational
team tournament in Dubai, along with Del Harris, Tim Garner, Nick Mathew,
Ross Norman, Susan Horner and Vicky Botwright. 15th
June
– Dutch League finals that will include me, Alex Gough,
Peter Nicol, Lucus Buit, John White, Stewart Boswell, Oli Touminen and Tommy
Berden. Should be great squash.
19th June – Go to Melbourne for
Commonwealth Games training camp. I’m planning to fly to North Queensland
to see my parents after the camp. It’s been over two years since I’ve seen
them!
26th July – Commonwealth Games.

So as you can see although Summer is not
very busy with PSA tournaments, there’s still plenty of squash going on. For
all of these trips Danny will be staying at home working on TeamKneipp.com
and a few other things including sponsorship.

Squash with SquashTalk
Changing topics briefly, Ron Beck recently visited Team Kneipp in Amsterdam
to chat about a continued working relationship with SquashTalk. Naturally
when squash people discuss squash, it’s done after having a social game. It
was good to see that Ron can hit a mean ball, as well as write about it. So
Team Kneipp will be writing articles during tournaments, and every two weeks
when there are no PSA events on. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

 

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