HOW DO YOU
SPELL TOUGH? MCREE She did it again today did Rebecca Macree.
Not happy with knocking out third seed Tania Bailey in yesterday's first
round, Macree continued her way to a semi-final berth by outthinking and
outlasting Vanessa Atkinson, seeded
eight. It wasn't that the Dutch number one played badly, just that Macree
is playing the best squash of her life. And not the English hacker game
either; she was using the entire court and hitting the ball at all heights
and angles and Atkinson didn't have the answer to her attack. It was a
pretty good 45 minute tussle. - easily the best match of the day - and
there were rallies that were as good as any of seen this year. Macree
won 3/1 and when I asked her why she was playing so well she opened up.
FOR A HANDICAP OR TWO?
To start with she is profoundly deaf and can understand you through a
combination lip reading and a hearing aid, so when she plays she has to
read the her opponent's body language and signs to know when a silly let
is being requested. She also has to be eagle eyed to watch the referee's
lips and hands to see if that silly let is being allowed. If that isn't
enough to handle, for the last two years her mother has been suffering
from leukaemia. They were close; in her early squash career mother would
sit behind the court knitting (The French Revolution comes to mind) and
translate the referee's decisions to her. So it is understandable that
her mother's illness took precedence over her squash career. "She nearly
died twice and that made me think about my own life and what I wanted
to do with it. My mother has had a bone marrow transplant and is a lot
better now so I have been able to train properly," she told me as sweat
still poured from her.
FASTER, CLEVERER "When I lost 10-9 in the fifth to Tania Bailey in Egypt I
was really angry. But I thought if Tania can beat all the players she's
been beating I can too. So I started training really hard. I'm much stronger
now, I do a lot of weights, a lot on the cycle, explosive speed work and
I have changed the way I hit the ball to give it more cut. I'm also thinking
more," she added. She also agreed that being picked for England on Sue
gave her confidence a boost. Her present ranking is now 15 but is hoping
to go beyond her best ever ranking of eleven. In tomorrow's semi-final
she will be playing the new world champion Carol Owens and that will be
a very good yardstick on just good she is.
SURE, FAST AND LETHAL Owens got through to the semi-final with a fight, a fight that
she was always going to win because of her consistency. Fiona Geaves is
an experienced player and between the two of them played the sort of all-court
squash that was once a rarity but is now becoming mandatory for any player
wanting to play with the big boys or girls. One thing is apparent in Owens'
game is that when she is playing at a measured pace and placing the ball,
she is in command. When she starts thumping the ball, it's anybody's game.
Not that she's bad at fastball - she hit some wicked straight nicks on
her forehand with the sort of pace that most men would not be ashamed
She won the first game 9-1 in under
eight minutes, but found herself under the cosh in the second when Geaves
levelled at 3-3 and from then on the English player was never headed.
Owens had lost her control and Geaves was giving nothing away. Although
Owens levelled at 7-7 Geaves kept up the pressure to take the game 9-7
in 13 minutes.
A GOOD READ
Owens rushed to a 5-0 lead in the third and Geaves fought back to 6-4
but Owens was reading her opponent's game well while Geaves was over-anticipating
and getting wrong-footed. At 7-4 the referee quite rightly refused Owens
a let and after some serious arguing from Owens changed his decision.
Geaves asked him if he were allowed to do that and he said yes. (Discuss
and write 2,000 words on why he was right and wrong).
The decision put Geaves off and she
left the court referring to spherical objects after losing 4-9. It still
affected her game in the fourth allowing Owens another 5-0 lead and she
never recovered as Owens, still favouring the fastball game, won 9-4 after
an entertaining 42 fight.