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Talk: Scuttlebutt from the Canadian Classic

Ryan Barnett Reporting November 18, 2003, From Toronto;

© 2003 Squashtalk, all rights of reproduction reserved.

As I spent three
and half-hours on a plane with nothing to do but think the one question
that I couldn’t get out of my mind was: “How on earth did
Peter Nicol get beaten by Omar Elborolossy?” Taking nothing away
from Omar’s victory I just can’t ever remember Nicol losing
in the first round before. I’m sure it’s probably happened
I just can’t recall. As I never witnessed the match I decided to
start asking around. I knew there had to be a reason. Sure enough there
was. There were actually two.

Let’s start
with the match itself. A four game victory for Elborolossy. (15-13, 15-12,
4-15, 15-13) Pretty straightforward, three of the four games were close
and the third was a blowout for Nicol

Time to dig deeper..

Who better to get
the story from than Jean De Lierre Canadian squash producer? When asked
to describe what he witnessed his eyes got all big and a huge smile spread
to his face.

De Lierre said “I
have filmed many, many squash matches all over the world but last night’s
Nicol/Elborolossy is quite possibly one of the best pro matches I have
ever witnessed” What, one of the best of all time you say? Please
go on. “Nicol started slowly as he is prone to do when facing an
opponent he feels that he should beat. Omar was ON as he hit at least
12 forehand drops that nicked for winners in the first two games alone.
Nicol seemed somewhat over confidant at the beginning and by the time
he settled in and found his rhythm Elborolossy had the two game lead.
Nicol made a lot of unforced errors and mistakes that also cost him but
from the beginning Omar was making Nicol do most of the work and the pressure
he was putting on Nicol caused the errors. At this level all it takes
is for one player to be half a step off and then they could be in trouble
which is exactly what happened.”

Half a step off..Hmmmmm.
Here’s where our story twists.

John White and Peter Nicol spotted
in Mamaroneck New York on Saturday evening, watching
a PSA satellite event

It appears that Nicol
may have been his own worst enemy. I was told that both Nicol and World
#2 John White spent the week leading up to this tournament in New York
playing in a bunch of exhibitions to promote the sport. Now there’s
nothing wrong with that, as both should be commended for doing the little

However then trouble
hit as they couldn’t get a flight and were forced to take the train.
They had to endure a much longer trip and arrived in Toronto a mere 12hrs
before the first round began. I heard there were a couple of red-faced
players saying, “You’d think after ten years on the tour we’d
be a little more organized.”

Well with someone
as organized and together as Nicol I’m told that this is almost
unheard of and threw off his preparation and as a result he wasn’t
mentally ready. Speculation for sure but possible nonetheless.

That’s what
great about Tournament Talk. You can’t believe everything you hear
but it sure can make you wonder. On Wednesday I will sit down with two
of the top referees in the sport of squash to discuss having salaried
professional officials on both the men’s and women’s tours.
Stay tuned.