2003
PACE Canadian Squash Classic
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by Ryan Barnett

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Canadian
Classic Preview – Nimick Keeps String Going

November
16, 2003, From Toronto;
©
2003 Squashtalk, all rights of reproduction reserved.

It’s Round
2 for the Battle of Canada as the PSA men’s professional squash
tour travels east to Canada’s largest city. For the 4th straight
year the Event Engine promotion machine will be plugged into Toronto’s
BCE place as the Pace Credit Union Canadian Classic
is set to take center stage from November 17th-20th.

With the qualifying
rounds
underway today it’s easy to forget that this tournament
almost didn’t happen. Tournament Director and Event Engine President
John Nimick explains.

“Well we had
three terrific years of sponsorship for the Canadian Classic right out
of the box and the event had grown to world class status as a result.
After YMG’s three-year deal concluded, we assessed our options and
evaluated the situation. The choices were straightforward. Find a new
sponsor or take a year off. Thanks to Lolly Gillen our Promotions and
Ticketing Director we were fortunate enough to find Pace Credit Union,
which was already involved with a Squash Ontario grass roots program benefiting
the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada.

"We were able
to make our case explaining the benefits for supporting both the grass
roots and the Classic. They agreed. Fortunately, with an event you have
run for several years, popping the clutch and getting into “green
light gear” is relatively easy”

When you’ve
built a reputation for putting on first class events it’s only natural
that both the public and the players want to see things continue. We have
been able to maintain the tournament in both draw size and top ten world
stature despite a small decrease in prize money compared to previous years.
Fortunately the months of uncertaintly haven’t stopped the world’s
best from showing up or hurt ticket sales.

“I have never been more thankful than this year when I explained
personally to Peter Nicol, John White, David Palmer and Jonathon Power
that the Classic was in transition and we thought we could make the event
happen in 2003 with their support.

"They are all
here.

"Ticket sales
are sensational. We are 93% sold out four days before the first round.
We will have 400 people on hand for our first session and sell standing
room above 550 for the quarters, semis and finals.” Nimick adds,
“I think one of our greatest assets is that we don’t think
of any of our events as squash tournaments. They are major sporting events.
We use whatever resources and relationships we have to make the best possible
presentation we can. For the Pace Credit Union Canadian Classic I feel
as if we’re competing against the Toronto Maple Leafs, not another
squash tournament."

Squash fans in Toronto know a good thing when they see
it. The Classic is a good thing. They also know that Canadian Jonathon
Power, now ranked 4th in the world, has always done very well at this
tournament. Power was a Torontonian for many years prior to moving to
Montreal and when we spoke earlier in the week you could hear the passion
in his voice. He commented, “It’s very exciting to come back
home. Every year I look forward to playing in this event. I’ve won
two of three and I am the defending champion so I’m looking to keep
it going. “I’m looking to win”

There will be 15 other players looking to do the same.
Could it be that parity is rearing its ugly head in professional squash?
Power says, “There are no more easy matches, they’re all close
these days. Once again I’ve got a real tough draw to deal with.
It’s hard to pick.”

He’s right, as World #2 John White, #10 Lee Beachill
and the ever-dangerous Martin Heath could be potential combatants. However
it’s Paul Price, the recent winner in Saskatoon and former top 10
player, that Power says to watch out for. “Price is really playing
well right now as his recent results show. He’s getting some wins
and with the wins he’s getting some confidence.”

Sitting up in the top half of the draw are World #1 Peter
Nicol and World #3 David Palmer. These two gents will have to be equally
sharp, as one must never forget about Graham Ryding the tournaments 8th
seed and the lightning fast Shahier Razik. Both players have proven that
on any given day they are capable of beating anyone in the world and if
spurred on by the crowd, just watch them cause some upsets.

Hats off to Nimick
and Co. for once again making this tournament a reality. I’m flying
out on Tuesday, as both Martin Bronstein and myself will
be on hand to provide you with unparalleled coverage. Stay tuned to Squash
Talk as the next best thing to being there live is reading about it here
as it happens. Daily reports, interviews and match-by-match analysis soon
to be heading your way from Bronstein and Barnett.

BCE Place Venue – photo © Ron
Beck