World Masters Squash 2003

Espoo, Finland, 04-09 August

The final match of the 2003 World Masters was an all-South African affair, with defending champion Craig van der Wath aiming to complete a family double, joining his partner Angelique Clifton-Parks who had earlier taken the women's O35 title.

It looked easy for Michael Toothill as he cruised to a 2-0 lead, but compatriot van der Wath recovered to level at 2-all and finally closed out the match to seal the family victory, and become the only competitor to successfully defend their title from 2001.

Pete Saarnivaara reports from Espoo
The audience was thrilled as Peter Hill of Singapore put almost everything to the nick in the final of the men's O40.

Hill, the number two seed, took on Sweden's Fredrik Johnson, who was prepared to pick up everything Hill would throw at him. Johnson worked hard to survive three game balls in the first before the game ended in a stroke to Hill. From then on, it was a one man's show. Almost every ball ended with an impeccable drop shot by Hill. The second game went to Hill 9/3. In the third Fredrik Johnson had totally lost his confidence as Hill continued his fireworks. Hill took the game 9/0 to a rapturous applause by a packed

"I played better and better on each round. I decided that it is better to keep on the offence", a happy Hill said after the match. "My secret is, that instead of working for my fitness for six months, I've just concentrated on my skills. Relying on your fitness is not the way to play when you get older."

After the show put up by Hill, the men's O35 final was an anticlimax, although it took five games for South Africa's Craig van der Wath to take the title. Nothing fancy here, just carefully planned tactics. Van der Wath set out to wear out second seeded fellow countryman Michael Tootil. Tootil took the first game 9/0 and was leading 6/0 in the second before van der Wath's tactics started to bear fruit. Tootil was still able to take the second game 9/5 but a turn in the match was already on the way. Van der Wath clinched the third 9/6 and Tootil could not find his pace again. Van der Wath cruised into a 9/0 and 9/1 victory.

Second seed Geoffrey Davenport of Australia was just too quick and fit for 3-4 seed Peter Alexander (England) in men's O45. Davenport, who doesn't look a day older than 35, took the match comfortably 3-0.

England's second seed David Manning took the first in the men's O50 final against South Africa's number one seed Alan Colburn, but then Colburn picked up the pace and took the next three.

First seed Brian Cook of Australia beat Roy Plumstead from South Africa in the men's O55 comfortably 3-0. "I like a fast game, so have to generate pace. I struggled a bit in the beginning and had to dig deep", Cook said dripping with sweat.

Finland's Veikko Eloranta took the only medal for the host country. He could not continue his strong run in the final against first seed John Perrot of England. Perrot had the upper hand throughout the game. "The game is all about using your head. But once you get tired, your head just doesn't work", Eloranta said.

The men's O65 final was dramatically stopped after three points, when Brian Heath tripped over Barry Gardiner's leg and slit across the floor hitting his head on the sidewall. With a large pool of blood on the court, medical staff rushed to his aid. 45 minutes later the match was restarted. With a bandage on his head and blood on his shirt, Heath quickly rushed to take the first 9/6, but now it was Gardiner who limped of the court. Heath took the match 3-0. A really good match, rushing about the court - are they really over 65?

There were no surprises in the men’s over 70s competition with John Cox of England winning his third World Master’s title when he beat Maurice Peters of New Zealand 3-0. Cox dominated the centre of the court allowing him to make use of his devastating drop shots. Peters’ fight back in the second was unable to turn the tide and prevent Cox becoming champion again in Espoo.

Van der Wath's partner Angelique Clifton-Parks, South Africa, held her seed in the ladies' O35 with a comfortable 9/3 9/2 10/8 win over Louise Lefebvre of Canada. Clinfton-Parks ruthlessly exploited her opponent's lesser mobility, Lefebvre becoming very frustrated as she could not do anything against Clifton-Parks’ tactics.

In the ladies' O40 England's 3-4 Susan Williams ended compatriot Fran Wallis' giant-killing run in a nail biting match, that could have gone either way. Williams clinching the match 10/9 in the fifth.

There were tears for Scots as 3-4 seed Pauline Douglas playing for South Africa upset the No.1 seed Julie Field of England to become Women’s over 45 champion. Although Pauline complained, “I just couldn’t move, I just couldn’t run. I played a completely different game.” It was her superior coverage of the court getting everything back and tight deep shots to the back corners that prevented Julie from dominating the T and playing her own game of winning shots.

The No.1 seed, Helene Schlebush of South Africa could not add the women’s O50 title to the O45 title she won in 1997. No.2 seed, Faith Sinclair of England beat her 9/10 9/4 6/9 9/4 9/6 in a close fought final. They moved each other around the court, lifting the ball high, gently playing it into the back corners to be followed by low tight shots to the frontcourt. The slow pace of the first games increased as both players became more determined to win, both building their chances for a winner or forcing their opponent into a mistake.

In the ladies' O55 first seed Averil Murphy, England, had to fight five games before 3-4 seed compatriot Betty Dryhurst was overcome 2/9 9/1 3/9 10/8 9/4.

First seed Jean Grainger of South Africa was just a class above the rest in the ladies' O60. She dropped the second game to another South African, Dawn Kaiser, seeded 3-4, in the final, but in the end pulled easily through with a 9/4 4/9 9/0 9/0 victory.

More news & photos from Espoo

World Champions 2003

Family double for South Africa

Men's O70:
John Cox bt Maurice Peters 9/2, 9/5, 9/3
Men's O65:
Brian Heath bt Barry Gardiner 9/6, 9/4, 9/1
Men's O60:
John Perrott bt Veikko Eloranta 9/4, 9/3, 9/4
Men's O55
Brian Cook bt Roy Plumstead 9/6, 9/4, 9/1
Men's O50:
Alan Colburn bt David Manning 3/9, 9/7, 9/5, 9/1
Men's O45:
Geoffrey Davenport bt Peter Alexander 9/2, 9/3, 9/1
Men's O40:
Peter Hill bt Fredrik Johnson 9/6, 9/3, 9/0
Men's O35:
Craig van der Wath bt Michael Toothill  0/9, 5/9, 9/6, 9/0, 9/1

Women's O60:
Jean Grainger bt Dawn Kaiser 9/4, 4/9, 9/0, 9/0
Women's O55:
Averil Murphy bt Bett Dryhurst 2/9, 9/1, 3/9, 10/8, 9/4
Women's O50:
Faith Sinclair bt Helen Schlebusch 10/9, 4/9, 9/6, 4/9, 9/6
Women's O45:
Pauline Douglas bt Julie Field 9/3, 9/3, 3/9, 9/7
Women's O40:
Susan Williams bt Fran Wallis 7/9, 9/1, 9/2, 5/9, 10/9
Women's O35:
Angelique Clifton-Parks bt Louise Lefebvre 9/3, 9/2, 10/8

Photos by Petteri Repo & Tommi Tapola

Springboks dominate
in Espoo semis ...

Pete Saarnivaara reports from Espoo

The South African team (they come as an entered team rather than all as individuals) showed the merits of this system as they dominated the semi-finals with five out of twelve in the women's events and five out of sixteen in the men's on the fifth day of World Squash Masters Championships in Espoo, Finland.

In the men's O35 the final will be an all South African one. Number one seeded Craig van der Wath claimed his place in the finals with a 3-0 victory over Papua-New-Guinea's Derek Hunter. Van der Wath will take on fellow countryman Michael Tootill (5-8), who beat Canada's David Sly 3-0.

No place in the final for South Africans in the men's O40. Another beautiful game by number two seed Peter Hill of Singapore saw South Africa's Trevor Wilkinson go down in three games. In the other semi-final England's Martin Greenslade was unarmed against Fredrik Johnson from Sweden. An interesting final is to be expected: Hill plays murderous volley drop shots with an impeccable touch and Johnson relies on his speed and stamina. The Swede is still dancing around the court and picking up everything almost like in the old days.

In the men's O45 the surprise run of Germany's Volker Hauke ended with a 0-3 defeat to England's Peter Alexander. The 3-4 seed meets second seed Geoffrey Davenport from Australia. Davenport beat Ian Bradburn from England 3-1.

First seed South Africa's Alan Colburn, just had the edge over Chris Wilson (Scotland) in the men's O50. Wilson, seeded to reach the semis, gave Colburn a real fright this time from 0-2, taking the third and coming desperately close in the fourth. Colburn looked relieved to win: Wilson had "next time" written all over his face.

In the other semi-final second seed Englishman David Manning survived a peculiar encounter against compatriot Ian Parke. Parke took the first two games easily with Manning's drop shots hitting the tin just a little too often. In the third Manning was able to lift his drops by just an inch and lower the pace of the game by squeezing the drives a bit tighter, while Parke was troubled with a slight injury, apparently due to a pulled muscle. Parke was not able to come back and lost the next three games clearly.

In the men's O55, number one seed Brian Cook (Australia) was too strong for South Africa's captain and manager Nick Penstone, winning 3-1.

In the other semi-final two times Masters Champion Roy Plumstead (South Africa) took a 2-0 lead over two-timer Masters runner-up Hugh Colburn (Australia). Colburn then fought back to take the third relatively easily. A tiring Plumstead seemed to be getting run around just a bit too much and the money was on Colburn at the start of the fifth. But after Plumstead had survived two match balls, Colburn's confidence and legs ebbed: 8/8, 8/9 and match to Houdini Plumstead to rapturous applause.

In the men's O60 Finnish 3-4 seed Veikko Eloranta upset second seed Thomas Slattery of Australia in a close fought five game encounter. "I always expect to win, otherwise it would make no sense to go to the court in the first place", Eloranta said smiling after the hard game. "My opponent kept me off balance and I had difficulties getting my own game on track. Anyone can play wonderfully, if the opponent let's one use one's own strengths." Eloranta meets John Perrot of England in the final.

In the men's O65 number one seed, England's John Woodliffe was beaten 3-1 by past Masters Champion Barry Gardiner of New Zealand. Gardiner meets second seeded Brian Heath in the final. Heath beat Ireland's Alexander Richardson 3-1.

Number one and two seeds faced each other, already, in the semis in the men's O70, since the first rounds were not played as a cup, but in groups. England's John E. Cox beat Australia's Nino Sydney and takes on 3-4 seed Maurice Peters from New Zealand on Saturday.

Ladies' O35 top seed, South Africa's Angelique Clifton-Parks, cruised through to the final, but it was a real battle in the other match. Silvia Schrijvers of Belgium, who was seeded to reach the final, failed to take advantage of her greater mobility against 3-4 seed Canadian Louise Lefebvre. Some critical errors and choice of shot saw Schrijvers lose in five games.

England's Fran Wallis continued her strong run in the ladies' O40 as she comfortably dismissed 3-4 seed Susanne Nyberg of Sweden. Wallis had earlier put out the number one seed Carin Clonda. In the other semi-final England's 3-4 seed Susan Williams upset second seeded South Africa's Marianne Baptiste 3-1.

South Africa's finalist in the ladies' O45 was 3-4 seeded Pauline Douglas, who played three close games with another 3-4 seeded and another South African, Christien Strydom, winning 9/6 9/6 10/8. Number one seed Julie Field (England) dropped the second game to unseeded Britt Carolyn Roylance, but claimed the place in the final 3-1.

In the ladies' O50 the final is a South Africa - England encounter as well. Number one seed Helene Schlebusch meets second seeded Faith Sinclair.

First and second seeded players met in the semi-final of the ladies' O55. England's Averil Murphy overcame Ann Manley from the same country. In the other semi-final between two 3-4 seeds, England's Betty Dryhurst beat Sweden's Margareta Borgwall.

The top seed Jean Grainger from South Africa pulled easily through against 3-4 seed Australia's Margaret Doueal, but the second seed in the category, Ireland's Barbara Sanderson had to give in to South Africa's Dawn Kaiser.

Finns flung out in
the quarter-finals
Pete Saarnivaara reports from Espoo

The host country's hopes in the men's O35 were devastated in the quarter-finals as 5-8 seed Derek Hunter from Papua-New-Guinea put out former Finnish international Marko Pulli. Pulli had beaten 3-4 seeded Hunter's fellow countryman Mark Hildred in the previous round. Pulli was leading 3/0, 5/2 and 8/3 in the first but Hunter fought his way back point by point to win the game 10/8. The second game was even until 5/5, but with Pulli doing most of the work Hunter pulled quickly from 5/5 to take the game 9/5. In the third game the Finn could not keep up the speed anymore. Hunter took the game 9/4. "I've had so few games that I don't really have a basic level in my game. I just have to try and kill the ball whenever it's possible", said Pulli. Today Pulli's tactics led to too many mistakes.

Number one seed Craig van der Wath of South Africa had an easy day again. He beat England's Peter Longsdale comfortably 3-0 and meets Hunter in the semis.

On the other side of the draw 3-4 seed South African Michael Tootil meets 5-8 seed Canadian David Sly. Tootil dismissed Eric Nadal from France 3-0, but the score does not tell the whole story. The audience got to see a number of good rallies.

Another blow to the host country was dealt by number one seed in the men's O40, Fredrik Johnson of Sweden, who dismissed the 5-8 seeded Matti Saarela 3-0. Johnson meets 3-4 seeded Martin Greenslade from England in the semis. The other semi-final will, unsurprisingly, be played between second seeded Trevor Wilkinson, South Africa and 3-4 seeded Peter Hill, Singapore.

Fredrik Johnsson SWE is through to the semis. Today he beat Matti Saarela FIN.
Heja Sverige!

Germany's Volker Hauke is emerging as the surprise (perhaps not to himself) player in the men's O45. He followed up a win over 5-8 seed Robert Henning of Sweden with a remarkable quarter-final win over two seed Gary Thomson from South Africa. Thomson looked to have it sewn up the match at 2-0, especially as Hauke looked to have an ankle worry. This perhaps made Thomson relax too much. The third went easily to Hauke, 9/1. Thomson could not get it back. Hauke covered the center court very well and played some superb drop shots and won 9/7, 9/7.

Another upset in the men's O45 category was Ian Bradburn's 3-0 victory over 3-4 seeded Paul Hughes of England. Second seeded Australian Geoffrey Davenport and 3-4 seeded Englishman Peter Alexander both came easily through to the semis.

In the men's O50, ankle problems could not be overcome by New Zealand's Tony Naughton, who had to concede, after a game and a half, to England's Ian Parke, father of top professional Simon Parke. 3-4 seeded Scott Chris Wilson ended a fine run by Finland's Kari Kattelus. David Manning (2) of England dropped a game against South Africa's Wilhelm Du Toit (5-8), but pulled through 3-1.

There were no surprises in the men's O55 quarters. Australian Brian Cook (1) meets England's Kenneth Randall in the semis and South Africa's Roy Plumstead (3-4) meets Hugh Colburn (2) of Australia.

The players in the men's O60, O65 and the ladies' O35, O40, O50 and O60 main draws got a days rest before semi-finals on Friday.

The Ladies' O45 saw a brilliant result for South Africa. Pauline Douglas when she defeated number one seed Julie Field of England in a nail biting fifth. Pauline originally comes from the north-east of Scotland. Maybe Scotland will now reopen negotiations to have her back to replace a certain P. Nicol.

As the ladies' O45 first rounds were played in groups, Field still continues in Friday's semis, which will be a South Africa ? England encounter. Field takes on another South African Christien Strydom. On the other side of the draw, Pauline Douglas meets Carolyn Roylance of England.

Ladies' O55 saw an upset as second seed Ann Manley of England was overcome by 3-4 seed Betty Dryhurst 9/7 in the fifth.

Everyone wanted their picture taken with WSF President Jahangir Khan.

Pulli puts out Hildred

The third day of the tournament saw seeded players being dismissed in several categories.

Former Finnish international Marko Pulli beat 3-4 seed Mark Hildred of Papua-New-Guinea comfortably 3-0 in the men's O35. Pulli played on the center court of Esport Center for the first time since 1991, when he won world team bronze medal as number three player of the Finnish national team. Eric Nadal from France had mild difficulties only in the third game as he dismissed Finland's 5-8 seed Simo Tarvonen.

Volker Hauke from Germany walked over 5-8 seed Robert Henning from Sweden in the men's 45 after Henning injured his ankle during training session earlier. Host country's Risto Jokinen, the 5-8 seed, was beaten by Ian Bradburn of England. England's Mohamed Sarwar dropped the first game to the 5-8 seeded Harvard University squash coach Satinder Bajwa, but pulled through with a 3-1

In the men's O50 the host country's Kari Kattelus, who put out the 5-8 seed Peter Karlsson of Sweden in the second round, continued into round four by defeating Chris Grainger of South Africa 3-1 leaving wife Jean to carry the family flag as number one seed in the women's O60.

Martin Pearse was the first seed to fall in the men's O55, defeated in three very close games by fellow Englishman and great rival John Smith.

In the men's O60 quarter-finals 5-8 seed, pocket battleship, Desmond Sacco of South Africa took on a higher seed opponent in Gary Williams of Wales. Sacco put up a most spirited fight before succumbing exhausted, unsurprisingly, in 4 games. Sacco admitted that he was still tired from the five-game clash with Sweden's Björn Borgwall in the previous round. "It was a hell of a game. Now I'll just concentrate on watching the games."

In the same category 5-8 seed Tom Slattery (Australia) overcame second seed from Wales, Brian Phillips.

In the men's O65 there were no problems for three of the seeds, but Irish eyes were smiling as Alex Richardson beat 3-4 seed Lance Kinder (England) 3-1 with the help of some key mistakes from his opponent.

The youngest women get a days rest on Thursday before their semi-finals on Friday. All seemed to be comfortable for the top seeds until 3-4 seed Bea De Dreu of Netherlands lost the third game against England's Zoe Smith and then he fourth, narrowly, 7-9. The fifth was amazing - De Dreu seemed overcome with nerves restricting her movement leading to unforced errors. An increasingly confident Zoe Smith took the game and match with ease. Smith attributed her victory to her fiancé and coach, top pro Rodney Durbach. The wedding, by the way, is in May.

Smith will now meet Angelique Clifton-Parks of South Africa (1) in the semi-final. In the other semi-final Belgium's second seed Silvia Schrijvers takes on Canadas Louise Lefebvre (3-4).

England's Fran Wallis put out the gutsy number one seed Carin Clonda of Australia in the women's O40. She now takes on 3-4 seed Susanne Nyberg of Sweden. On the other side of the draw South African Marianne Baptiste (2) meets England's Susan Williams (3-4).

Eira Oinonen from Tampere, Finland, caused the only upset in the women's O50. Oinonen went through to the semis with a 9/0 3/9 9/2 9/4 victory over Australia's Yvonne Cook.

The ladies' O60 semi-finals will be an Ireland - South-Africa encounter. First seed Jean Grainger (RSA) will meet Maeve Spotswood (IRL), seeded 3-4 and second seed Barbara Sanderson (IRL) will meet Dawn Kaiser (RSA), seeded 3-4.


Seeded players were again strong on the second tournament day with only a few exceptions.

Michael Gunton from Greece, seeded to reach the quarterfinals in men's O65, became the first seeded casualty of the tournament with a 1/9, 3/9, 4/9 defeat to Sami Ikonen of the host country.

In men's O60 5-8 seed Peter Field of England was dismissed 9/7, 9/0, 10/9 by Welshman Chris Clarke. Clarke had the advantage of home crowd support as he has played in the eastern Finnish town of Kouvola on his holidays for the last 20 years. Clarke, who takes on number one seed John Perrot in the quarterfinals, was himself surprised by his strong performance. "I thought I was the underdog. But the match could have gone either way." 


Day one saw almost 200 matches, with most of the seeds securing comfortable wins. In the Men's Over-40 the top 8 seeds dropped just 33 points between them (although top seed Phil Whitlock had withdrawn due to 'unforseen circumstances').


As the 7th World Masters gets under way in Espoo, Finland, 440 players from over 30 countries are set for 700 hours on court to decide the champions ...

Family Double predicted
by World Masters seedings

South Africans Craig van der Wath and his partner Angelique Clifton-Parkes are expected to claim a unique family double in the 7th World Masters Squash Championships in Finland, following today's announcement of the seedings.

More than 400 competitors from 33 countries will compete in the event which will be staged at the Esport Center in Espoo, near Helsinki, from 04-09 August.

England and South Africa are seeded to win all but two of the 14 titles being contested. Van der Wath, the reigning British Open Over-35 champion, is seeded to retain the World Masters Men's Over-35 title he won in Melbourne in 2001, while event debutante Clifton-Parkes is favourite to win the Women's Over-35 trophy. Both are expected to face Europeans in the finals - van der Wath the former Finnish international Sami Elopuro and his partner the Belgian Silvia Schrivers.

Sweden's 1999 Over-35 champion Fredrik Johnson is seeded to reach the Men's Over-40 final, where he is expected to face top-seeded Englishman Philip Whitlock. South Africa's defending champion Trevor Wilkinson is seeded to reach the last four.

In the Men's Over-65 event, England's John Woodliffe is favourite to go one step further than the runners-up finish he achieved in the 2001 event in Melbourne. Meanwhile, the 1999 winner John Cox moves up to the Over-70 event where the Englishman is seeded to claim victory.

In the women's championships, Ireland's much-travelled veteran Barbara Sanderson is seeded to reach her third successive final. The defending champion is the second seed in the Over-60 event in Espoo and expected to face top seed Jean Grainger, the 1999 Over-55 champion from South Africa, in a repeat of the 1999 final.

Former international Carin Clonda is seeded to win the only title for Australia in the Over-40 category, while England's Averil Murphy, runner-up in the 2001 Over-50 event, is seeded to take the 2003 Over-55 trophy.

Squash Masters Aspire
For Success In Espoo

Entries for the 7th World Masters Squash Championships close on Tuesday 10th June, yet already players from countries as far away as Pakistan, Hong Kong, Mauritius, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia will join those from Europe to compete in the 2003 event in Espoo, Finland, from 04-09 August.

The event will be staged at the Esport Center in Espoo, which is 10 kilometres from the centre of Helsinki. The largest venue for racket sports in Finland, the Esport Center boasts nine squash courts, featuring a four-walled glass showcourt.

South Africa's British Open Over-35 champion Craig van der Wath will defend his World Masters Over-35 title in Finland, while his compatriot Trevor Wilkinson will attempt to retain the Over-40 title, though he should expect stiff resistance from a cosmopolitan field which already features Welshmen, Englishmen, Finns, Scots and Swedes - including the 1999 Over-35 champion Fredrik Johnson who is looking to make his mark in the next category up.

Australia's former Over-45 champion Brian Cook has confirmed entry to the Men's Over-55 event, while stiff competition is assured in the Over-65 event which includes England's John Woodliffe, runner-up in Melbourne in 2001; his compatriot Lance Kinder, who was runner-up in the 2002 British Open event; and New Zealanders Trevor Colyer, the 1991 Over-40 champion, and Barry Gardiner, the 1999 Over-60 champion.

In the women's championships, England's much-travelled veteran Barbara Sanderson will be aiming to reach her third successive final and successfully defend the Over-60 title she claimed in Melbourne in 2001.

"The 2003 World Masters Championships will feature the elite of master Squash players of the world, including many old friends who have been competing against each other for years," said World Squash Federation (WSF) Chief Executive Ted Wallbutton.  "As well as enjoying one of the great competitions on our calendar, they will also have the perfect occasion to get to know Finland, a true sporting country with an impressive record in track and field, winter sports, ice hockey, motor sports, as well as in squash."