WALKER FACES WILLSTROP IN CANARY
WHARF MAIN DRAW
By ALAN THATCHER
RISING squash star Alister Walker
achieved the best result of his career when he beat French top seed
Gregory Gaultier on his way to reaching the semi-finals of last
season’s ISS Canary Wharf Classic.
It was a phenomenal achievement by
the 25-year-old based in Leeds, who battled his way through from the
qualifying competition to reach the last four of one of Europe’s
Despite a surge up the world
rankings, Walker was still due to qualify again for this year’s
Canary Wharf event, but an injury to Dutch No.1 Laurens Jan Anjema
has given him a place in the first round on Monday night.
He is now looking forward to
producing another career-defining performance at the East
Wintergarden as he faces the reigning champion, James Willstrop, a
three-times winner of this PSA Five Star tournament.
“It’s something of a Yorkshire derby
as we both live in Leeds,” said Walker. “James is a phenomenal
player so I know I will have to be at my best. The event is so
strong that whoever I drew it was going to be a tough match. Playing
James will be a good measure of how much I have improved.”
Walker has risen to number 16 in the
latest PSA world rankings and he added: “Last year I was ranked 33
in the world and I was the top-ranked player in the qualifying
tournament. This year I have gone up to 16 and I was still the No.1
seed in qualifying. That shows just how strong the main draw is.
“I can’t remember the last time I
played James but I am really looking forward to it. I love playing
at Canary Wharf. In fact, all the players do, which explains why the
quality of the draw is so high.
“It is a real credit to the
tournament and it is one of the best venues in squash. It has a
fantastic atmosphere and the crowd really like to get involved,
which helps the players to respond. Obviously I had a great result
there last year against Gaultier, and I am looking forward to
another good performance against James.”
Walker will be travelling down on
Sunday and will have a practice hit on the newly-erected glass court
with current world No.5 Nick Matthew, who has returned to top form
after a long-term shoulder injury kept him off court for much of
Walker added: “I saw a lot of Nick at
the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield as he was recovering
from his injury as we both share the same conditioning coach, Mark
“I saw Nick nearly every day as he
was killing himself in training. He was unable to hit a squash ball
because of his injury but the fitness work he put in was
“It has certainly paid off for him
with the results he has enjoyed in the past few months and it’s
amazing how he has turned a negative into something so positive. I
don’t think there is a better athlete on the Tour. Nobody will beat
Nick on fitness but there is so much more to his game.”
Walker admits that his own rise up
the rankings has been more of a gradual, steady affair. He added:
“Apart from a big win over Wael El Hindi in Qatar I have been
producing steady, solid performances and reaching the last 16 of
every major tournament in the past few months.
“Last year’s win at Canary Wharf over
Gaultier was a huge mental boost and I have been able to build on
that. I am looking forward to not having to qualify for the bigger
tournaments. It can be brutal on the body if you have two qualifying
matches, a tough first round and then come up against one of the top
seeds in the quarter-finals.
“But that is the next step up I am
hoping for next season. Of course you want to be successful all the
time but you can’t rush these things. It’s a gradual process for me.
I came to England a little late in my career and am getting
experience in the seniors that a lot of players must have been
getting in the juniors.
“I would like to thank my coach David
Pearson most of all and the whole England Squash set-up, plus the
staff at the EIS in Sheffield. I have lost a bit of weight in the
past year but have improved physically and tactically. I have been
given a good package that needs to be taken care of.”
Walker is aware of the illustrious
company he is keeping, with Egypt’s three-times world champion Amr
Shabana the top seed, followed by Gaultier.
England Squash training partners
Willstrop, Matthew and Peter Barker will also be looking to shine in
a draw that includes former world champions Thierry Lincou, the 2006
champion, and Australia’s David Palmer, who faces Surrey wild card
Tom Richards in the first round.
Walker continued: “Tom is improving
and I am sure he will learn a lot from the opportunity of playing an
immaculate athlete like David Palmer on the glass court. It will be
a great experience for him.”
London Canary Wharf Success To Boost Squash’s Olympic Bid
hard to claim what everyone in the sport believes is a rightful
place in the 2016 Olympic Games - and another successful week
with the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic can only enhance
5-star PSA World Tour event, which takes place at the East
Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London, from March 23-27,
is in its sixth year and now firmly established as one of the main
tournaments on the World Tour.
co-promoter Peter Nicol, the former world champion who
achieved two individual gold medals in the Commonwealth Games,
is heavily involved in the sport’s Olympic bid as a Squash 2016
Canary Wharf Classic continues to showcase the sport at the highest
level, and this year we are guaranteed a spectacular event, with
eight of the world’s top ten players in action," said Nicol.
wonderful to see the sport of squash uniting in such a powerful and
positive way to support the Olympic bid, and the leading players are
totally committed to the cause.
dedication and commitment they show to their sport matches the core
Olympic values and we know that if squash were to be granted a place
on the Olympic programme then every one of the leading players would
want to take part to compete for a gold medal. It would be viewed
as the highest accolade in the sport."
In a feast of
entertainment for London squash fans, the Canary Wharf tournament
follows the ATCO Super Series Finals, which concluded on
Tuesday with Gregory Gaultier beating Thierry Lincou
in an all-French final.
Both are among
a star-studded draw at Canary Wharf, with Gaultier seeded two behind
the mercurial Egyptian Amr Shabana, the three-times world
champion from Cairo.
The top eight
seeds in the 16-man tournament also include the top three English
players, Nick Matthew; reigning Canary Wharf champion
James Willstrop; and Peter Barker, plus Australian
David Palmer and Shabana’s fellow countryman Wael El Hindi.
home-based players seem to have hit form at the right moment leading
up the event. World No7 Willstrop, who has won the Canary Wharf
title three times, put his injury and illness worries behind him as
he won two of his three matches at The Queen's Club -
including a first-day victory over world champion Ramy Ashour
- and narrowly missed out on a place in the final despite gaining a
second victory over Lincou.
is back up to world No5, has reached three consecutive Tour finals
and is playing the best squash of his career after spending much of
last year out of action with a shoulder injury.
Limehouse resident Peter Barker, ranked 10 in the world, comes into
the event fresh after winning the KL Open in Malaysia,
beating fellow Londoner Adrian Grant in the final.
connected to the event is drooling over the quality of the draw,"
enthused Nicol. "Shabana, Palmer and Lincou are all former world
champions and we hope that the quality of the play, performed in
such a magnificent venue as the East Wintergarden, will prove to the
watching world that a squash competition would be an attractive and
entertaining addition to the Olympic programme.
delighted to host a Squash 2016 Press Conference during the PSA
Super Series Finals at Queen’s Club, and, with two major squash
tournaments taking place back-to-back in London, it is a real
bonanza for squash fans in and around the capital, and an
opportunity for the sport to showcase itself in the best possible
The ISS Canary
Wharf Classic continues to be at the forefront of delivering
high-quality TV and internet broadcasts. A two-part highlights
package will be televised on Sky Sports, with the same programme
broadcast all over the world on satellite TV sports channels as part
of the PSA’s global distribution network.
from the event is also being broadcast live on the internet thanks
to a live web-streaming operation carried out by
programmes will also include extensive location shots, meaning that
several million people will be tuned in to the action and seeing
what a wonderful venue we have at Canary Wharf," added Nicol.
"There are still a few tickets left and I would advise spectators to
book up as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment."
CANARY WHARF CLASSIC HIGHLIGHTS SQUASH'S OLYMPIC BID
A squash bonanza in London, with the
ISS Canary Wharf Classic following the ATCO Super Series Finals, has
brought the sport's bid for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics into
The star-studded ISS Canary Wharf
Classic has attracted eight of the world's top ten players and takes
place next week (March 23-27) in front of sell-out crowds at the
stylish East Wintergarden venue at Canary Wharf.
Super Series champion Gregory
Gaultier, from France, is No.2 seed behind Egypt's three-time world
champion Amr Shabana. Reigning champion James Willstrop, who has won
a hat-trick of Canary Wharf titles, is joined by fellow English
stars Nick Matthew and Peter Barker among the top eight seeds.
COMES EARLY FOR LONDON SCHOOLCHILDREN AS WORLD’S TOP SQUASH TALENT
HITS THE CAPITAL
best squash players will descend on London next week as the star
studded ISS Canary Wharf Classic prepares to open it’s doors to
London’s city squash fans. The event, which runs from 23rd
– 27th March, will include a rare opportunity for local
schoolchildren to watch the best that the sport has to offer as well
as get on court at the spectacular glass East Wintergarden building,
from the Mayflower Primary School, Tower Hamlets, have been invited
to attend the Tuesday evening session after having been put through
their paces in a one hour training session under the guidance of
former world number one and event organiser, Peter Nicol MBE.
Working alongside England Squash in what will be for many, their
first experience of the sport, the Canary Wharf Classic will provide
access for the youngsters that could become the next followers of
welcomes the event to it’s iconic business district, and the access
that it gives the local community to one of the sport’s most
impressive event facilities is second to none. With the sixth
staging of the much anticipated tournament just around the corner,
squash fans and Londoner’s alike are bracing themselves as the
world’s top talent hits the capital.
Mayor of London,
said, ‘In the run up to London 2012 we need to encourage as many
young people as possible to get involved in a variety of sports. I’m
sure the children participating in the squash tournament will have
tremendous fun and may even have such enthusiasm that they may one
day become professional players.’
Co-Director of tournament organiser Eventis, said, ‘We are all
really looking forward to the event and having the world’s best
squash players battle for the title in a location as impressive as
Canary Wharf’s East Wintergarden will be terrific.’
Being able to
ally this great event with several really positive grassroots
initiatives makes it all the more worthwhile and enjoyable to work
on. We have always been conscious of our role as a city centre event
and providing these opportunities for the local community can only
add to the relationship we are trying to build.’
The PSA World
Tour event, which will feature eight of the world’s top ten players,
sees recently crowned British Champion Nick Matthew playing on home
soil for the first time since taking the national title. With
Egyptian three time world champion, Amr Shabana, joining last year’s
tournament champion, James Willstrop and French ace Gregory Gaultier
on the bill; crowds will be sure to see some of the best action of
DEMAND SEES SQUASH’S ISS CANARY WHARF CLASSIC CLOSE TO SELL OUT
The ISS Canary
Wharf Classic is more popular than ever with London’s squash
contingent, tickets again selling fast with little more than two
weeks to go prior to the event. Running from March 23rd –
27th at Canary Wharf’s magnificent East Wintergarden, the
tournament looks likely to sell out once again and squash
enthusiasts are advised to book quickly to avoid missing out on the
capital’s premier squash showpiece.
best players are set to hit London, with eight of the world’s top
ten lining up for the first round of the draw. Egyptian three time
world champion and top seed, Amr Shabana, will face a tough test
against the top Englishmen in the field, including recently crowned
British champion, Nick Matthew. London’s hopes will be pinned on
eighth seeded Peter Barker (Upminster), who will be joined by three
time Canary Wharf Classic winner and British number one, James
Event Director, said, ‘Our ticket sales always seem to
demonstrate the appeal that this event has, not only to elite squash
fans, but the London public in general. We are lucky to boast a
superb location as well as a world class playing field; a
combination which makes for a truly great night out in the heart of
one of the world’s most exciting cities.
‘I would urge
squash fans to secure their seats as soon as possible to avoid
disappointment. The latter stages of the tournament are sure to be
played out in front of a capacity crowd!’
backwall seats having sold out for the week and standard backwall
available for just the remaining Monday and Tuesday sessions, fans
should book early to avoid disappointment. Sidewall seats are still
available for the grand final of the ISS Canary Wharf Classic.
SQUASH’S ISS CANARY WHARF
CLASSIC BUCKS THE ECONOMIC TREND – EXTENDED ISS SPONSORSHIP,
OFFICIAL HOTEL AND CANARY WHARF PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCED
The ISS Canary
Wharf Classic, which will take place between 23rd – 27th
March, has been buoyed by the news that the country’s leading
facilities services company, ISS, will be extending their
association with the event for at least another two years.
which has been extended until the 2011 tournament and will take the
event into its eighth year, has been coupled with the ongoing
partnership with Canary Wharf Group plc who have confirmed use of
the same venue for this duration, the spectacular East Wintergarden.
Managing Director of ISS Facility Services’ London Division, said,
‘ISS are proud to extend their association with this tournament
and are looking forward to another two years of top competition at
the fabulous East Wintergarden. At a time when some sponsors of
major sporting events are withdrawing their support, we have
considered our position and found that the squash sponsorship
clearly demonstrates our commitment to Canary Wharf and the
customers we serve within the business community.
shortly be moving our London offices closer to the Wharf so this is
the perfect opportunity to maintain our brand momentum by continuing
our relationship with an event as spectacular and popular as the
Canary Wharf Classic.’
tournament, which will this year celebrate its fifth year of support
from ISS, has also forged a link with hotel group, Guoman. The Tower
Hotel will become the first official event hotel.
Event Director, said, ‘During a period when many events of this
nature are struggling, it is fantastic news that our tournament is
maintaining it’s strong position on the squash calendar and in the
minds of all of those who come to watch. Our continued growth will
allow us to keep improving year on year, giving fans the very best
of squash in a setting as fantastic as the East Wintergarden.
(delete quote mark here)
‘I think our
unique location and integration with local community and business
has been a major factor in maintaining momentum as we look forward
to hosting another spectacular week of squash!’
WORLD-CLASS DRAW IN THE ISS CANARY WHARF SQUASH CLASSIC
galaxy of stars will be competing in this year’s ISS Canary Wharf
Eight of the world’s top ten players will be appearing in the
capital’s top tournament, which takes place from March 23-27 at the
stunning East Wintergarden venue at Canary Wharf.
The star-studded line-up includes three former world champions, Amr
Shabana (Egypt), David Palmer (Australia) and Thierry Lincou
(France), plus Gregory Gaultier (France), the No.2 seed who has been
a runner-up in two World Open finals.
England’s James Willstrop, a three-times winner of the Canary Wharf
event, will be back to defend his title as No.3 seed but he faces
the toughest possible test this year, meeting Dutch ace Laurens Jan
Anjema in the first round, followed by a potential quarter-final
with Lincou and a scheduled semi-final encounter with top seed
England’s Mick Matthew, who last week retained his National
Championship title in Manchester, is seeded seven and is drawn to
face Shabana in the quarter-finals.
Co-promoter Peter Nicol, a former world champion who held the world
No.1 ranking for more than five years, said: “This is the best draw
we have ever had. This is our sixth year and the event just gets
better and better. It is a top quality entry and we are sure to see
a week of fantastic squash.”
the seeding goes to plan, the quarter-final line-up will unfold as
follows: Shabana v Matthew, Willstrop v Lincou, Palmer v Wael El
Hindi (Egypt), and Gaultier v Peter Barker (England).
Tournament wild card Tom Richards, from Surrey, faces a massive
obstacle in the first round when he meets Australian Palmer, one of
the most consistent players at the top level of the game for the
Nicol added: “Tom will certainly have his work cut out but it will
be a huge experience for him and hopefully help him to develop his
game at this level.”
promises to be another sell-out and Nicol added: “I have been
involved in squash for many years as a player, but as a promoter I
am absolutely drooling at the quality of squash we are guaranteed to
see at Canary Wharf this year. Once again I would advise spectators
to book early as tickets are going fast.”
EGYPTIAN SUPERSTAR SHABANA TO WOW CROWDS IN THE ISS CANARY WHARF
Egyptian superstar Amr Shabana is all set to dazzle London audiences
after confirming his entry into this year’s ISS Canary Wharf Squash
Organisers are delighted that Shabana has committed to playing in
the capital’s top tournament, which takes place from March 23-27 at
the spectacular East Wintergarden venue at Canary Wharf.
“Shabana is the great entertainer of the modern game and we are so
pleased to announce that he will be playing,” said Tournament
Director Tim Garner.
“He has been the figurehead of the Egyptian squash boom and has
clearly inspired so many young players. Egypt’s dominance of squash
is phenomenal, and to have three of their players at the top of the
world rankings is an amazing achievement.”
Shabana, the 29-year-old left-hander from Cairo, has won the World
Open three times and had been world No.1 for 33 months until fellow
Egyptian Karim Darwish took over that coveted position in the
January rankings. Shabana is currently in second place with
20-year-old world champion Ramy Ashour third.
Wharf audiences will be looking to Nick Matthew to fly the home flag
after a successful recent run in which he reached the final of the
Tournament of Champions in New York and won the Swedish Open and
British National Championship titles.
In each of those tournaments Matthew beat fellow Englishman James
Willstrop, who has won the Canary Wharf title three times.
In Sunday’s National Championship final in Manchester, Matthew beat
Londoner Adrian Grant in straight games to claim his second title.
Grant had a walkover in the semi-finals after his opponent,
Docklands resident Peter Barker, had to withdraw because of
Garner said: “We wish Peter a speedy recovery in time for the Canary
Wharf tournament but once again Nick showed he is back on top form
after missing much of last year with a shoulder injury.”
The tournament promises to be another sell-out and Garner added: “We
are looking forward to another fantastic event at Canary Wharf this
year and I would advise spectators to book early as tickets are
MATTHEW BACK IN GOOD NICK AS HE WARMS
UP FOR THE ISS CANARY WHARF SQUASH CLASSIC
Hopes are high of another home triumph in the ISS Canary Wharf
Squash Classic following the return to top form of former British
Open champion Nick Matthew.
The Sheffield-based Matthew, 28, reached the final of the Tournament
of Champions in New York last week to show that he has fully
recovered from the back injury that kept him off court for most of
2008 and is more than capable of competing once again at the highest
James Willstrop has won the Canary Wharf three times but last week
he lost to his England and Yorkshire team-mate Matthew in the New
York quarter-finals. Matthew, currently world No.12, went on to beat
Egypt’s world champion Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals but lost a
close match in the final to France’s in-form Gregory Gaultier.
Organisers are anticipating that Matthew will be one of the top
seeds as the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic returns to London for a
sixth year from March 23-27.
The tournament promises to be another sell-out at the stunning East
Wintergarden venue and Tournament Director Tim Garner said: “It’s
great to see Nick back on top form after his injuries last year and
we are looking forward to seeing him play at Canary Wharf.
“He missed the tournament last year through injury and the year
before he was exhausted after winning the National Championships
title the week before, so he will be looking for a good performance
“When he is fully fit he is one of the strongest and fastest players
on the tour. He plays the game at such a pace that he doesn’t give a
shot-maker like Ramy Ashour time to settle into his game.”
Another in-form British player hoping to do well at Canary Wharf is
Docklands resident Peter Barker. The world No.9 from Limehouse won
the Artemis Edinburgh Open at the weekend, beating Ireland’s John
Rooney in straight games in the final.
Barker’s success followed his early-season triumphs in America,
where he beat Australia’s former world champion David Palmer in
successive tournament finals in Chicago and Baltimore.
Tickets for the 2009 ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic are on sale via
Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk) and the Ticket Hotline is 0844
Garner added: “Tickets are selling very quickly and squash fans are
urged to make sure they buy theirs early to avoid disappointment.”
THE BEST FOR ISS CANARY WHARF SQUASH CLASSIC
The ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic returns to London for a sixth
year in March, marking the fifth year of sponsorship by ISS Facility
The tournament promises to be another sell-out at the stunning East
Wintergarden venue at Canary Wharf from March 23-27.
Yorkshire’s world No.3 James Willstrop clinched a third Canary Wharf
title earlier this year when he beat Australian Cameron Pilley in a
dramatic final. Willstrop had won the inaugural title in 2004,
beating France’s former world champion Thierry Lincou in the final,
and he gained his second success in 2007, overcoming Scotland’s John
White in an epic encounter on the Harris brushes glass court.
Co-Promoter Peter Nicol, from Eventis Sports, said: “Time flies so
quickly. The 2008 tournament was a huge success back in March and
here we are counting down the weeks to the 2009 event. This year’s
tournament was a fantastic week for the British players, with James
winning a third title and Alister Walker knocking out the top seed,
Gregory Gaultier from France, to reach the semi-finals.”
Former world champion Nicol has been working hard during the summer
to encourage further British successes, training on court with Peter
Barker and Adrian Grant, both London-based left-handers like Nicol.
Grant splits his time between Lewisham and Leeds, while Barker is
now living within walking distance of Canary Wharf, having recently
moved into a new apartment at Limehouse.
Barker signalled his intentions for the new season by winning the
recent Sweet Homes Open in Chicago, beating Australia’s former world
champion David Palmer in a new tournament staged on an open-air
Nicol added: “The British players will all be looking forward to
doing well in the forthcoming World Open in Manchester and we are
all pleased to see former British Open champion Nick Matthew back on
court after a lengthy absence through injury.”
Tickets for the 2009 ISS Canary Wharf Squash
Classic are now on sale via Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk)
and the Ticket Hotline is 0844 847 2419.
Nicol added: “Lots of my friends buy tickets as Christmas presents,
especially the VIP hospitality packages. Every year we get phone
calls and emails from satisfied customers who love the atmosphere at
the East Wintergarden.”
The Canary Wharf Classic is a joint enterprise between Eventis
Sports and Squash UK, and Nicol continued: “We are very proud of the
tournament we have created in partnership with the Canary Wharf
Group and ISS. They have been fantastic partners all the way through
and we are all looking forward to another great tournament in
ISS Facility Services, London Division
Canary Wharf Group plc
The ISS Canary
Wharf Squash Classic at the East Wintergarden is jointly promoted by
Eventis Sports Marketing and SquashUK.
Qualifying: March 21-22 at Wimbledon Rackets and Fitness Club.
March 23-27, 2008
East Wintergarden, Bank Street, Canary Wharf, E14
Corporate Hospitality: Superb packages are available,
enabling spectators to wine, dine and watch all the
gripping squash action from the Gallery restaurant
within the East Wintergarden.
Full details from Tim Garner at Eventis Sports
Marketing Telephone: 07973 817468.