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News Archives from 2003

News Archive 2002
News Archive 2001
News Archive 2000
SEP: Players to rate refs ...Kyme breakthrough in Bermuda ...Power launches 'Dive Guy' clothing range ...Bailey needs to learn to breathe ...Byron Davis joins Australia's AIS ..USSRA appoints new CEO ...Nimick launches US Pro Circuit ...Pakistan's top 30 get sponsorship deals ..Nicol launches interactive CD ...Ritwik aims for the World Open ...
Hong Kong to host Women's World Open ..Nicol gets tough US Open draw ...Chaloner claims refereeing bias ...
World Open for Pakistan ...Ahmed Safwat passes away ...Nottingham wins British Open bid ... Scottish Squash appoint Performance Director ..Nicol David ready to take on the world .Chiu receives Hong Kong Medal of Honour ...Pakistan in Khan appeal ...Academy aims to restore Pakistan's rule ...'Millionaire' David aiming at World title ...
WSF opens up scoring debate ...Pohrer poaches Pole Position ...Squash Masters aspire to success in Finland ...Latvia becomes 25th ESF member ...PSA sign new TV deal ... New ball game for Cowie ... Squash mourns Oluf Jorgensen ... England Squash appoints Performance Director ... Beng Hee aims to buckle down ...Canadian Open back on the calendar ... 

Hong Kong cancelled due to SARS ...Fitz-Gerald feted with more honours ...Pakistan fills top squash positions ...SARS hits Beng Hee ... in the pocket ...Fitz-Gerald sets sights on Welsh Double ... WISPA promo tour 2003 heads for Russia ... Qatar events postponed ...Owens to take on all-comers in Fiji ...WSF unveils 2003 Dev. & Coaching Conference ...Tavistock wins the Wall ...Kneipp & Martin team up for doubles ...
Taylor & Boswell's Qatar Mission ... WSF slams SquashPlayer article ...Pohrer takes over as WISPA President ...Fitz-Gerald claims another Aussie award ...Over-age allegations made against Pakistan ...Beachill out for action after ankle operation ...Palmer hospitalised in Bermuda ...
Jahangir succeeds in court case ...Doubles takes off in Nottingham ...Squash unaffected by Pan American Games delays ... Pakistan mourns death of its squash chief ...Fitz-Gerald retires ... well, sort of ...New era beckons for British Open ...John's a Pinpoint Ball Wizard ...
Jansher's comeback bid is over ...Fitz enters WISPA Hall of Fame ...Nicol launches plans for English Open ...Pakistan confident of more junior success ...Nicol David back in training ...Scottish fans hit by porn racket ...

Squash bodies unite in refereeing project -
Players to rate refs  23-Sep
The three governing bodies of World Squash - the World Squash Federation (WSF), the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and the Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA) - have announced a joint project intended to gather greater feedback concerning referee performance at major events and, ultimately, to improve refereeing, something that would benefit all concerned with the sport, including the top tournament players.

"Although formal assessments by WSF Assessors remain an integral part of the evaluation and education of WSF Referees and potential candidates for those positions, we recognise that the WSF needs greater input from the professional players to provide more information to the WSF Review Board when making decisions about the appointment of WSF Referees," said PSA Executive Director Gawain Briars, WISPA Director Andrew Shelley and WSF Rules & Referees Committee Director Graham Waters in a joint letter to members of the three associations. "Attempts have been made to include some players in that annual process, but conflicting schedules and priorities have limited the success of that initiative."

Players competing in major events will be asked to fill out a simple card, evaluating the performance of the referee of each match played, and offering the players space to provide any constructive suggestions as to how that referee could improve. These evaluations will be completed on all referees at the events mentioned below, whether they are existing WSF Referees or those striving for that designation. They would be returned to the Tournament Director or Tournament Referee, who would then return them to the WSF office at the conclusion of the event.

These forms would then be collated, and used during the annual WSF Referee Review. They will provide the WSF Review Board with a great deal more information on which to base their decisions. Any patterns developing from the comments and suggestions will also be forwarded on to the individual referees for their information and a base from which to improve.

The authors of the letter point out that, for the programme to have maximum benefit, a few things are crucial:

"Players must not allow the "heat of the moment" emotions to cloud what they say in their feedback. The forms should ideally be completed an hour or two after the match has finished and the euphoria or frustrations have subsided.

"The results of the comments must remain confidential, not only during the event, but also after it. Envelopes will be provided to assure this. The forms will be collected in their sealed envelopes and forwarded to the WSF office in the UK for future use.

"Although ratings in the various categories will be helpful, any constructive suggestions from the players can help the development and improvement of referee performance.

"We hope to get as much information as we can about as many referees as possible and from as many different players as possible. This will provide a much broader cross-section of information, and help minimise any individual conflicts."

The initiative will be launched at next month's British Open in Nottingham. Information will be gathered from all matches, including qualifying rounds. The forms will also be used at the following PSA and WISPA events this year, as well as the Men's World Team Championships in October:

PSA: Canadian Open (Edmonton), Oct 30-Nov 3; Dutch Open (Maastricht), Nov. 13-16; Canadian Classic (Toronto), Nov. 17-21; Qatar Classic (Doha), Dec. 1-5; World Open (Lahore), Dec. 14-21

WISPA: Weymuller US Open (New York) Oct 13-16; Dutch Open (Maastricht), Nov. 13-16; Monte Carlo Classic (Monaco), Nov. 19-22; Qatar Classic (Doha), Dec. 1-5; World Open (Hong Kong), Dec. 9-13

"I am very pleased with the co-operation shown by the two professional associations in developing this programme and look forward to some constructive feedback from the top players on the referees that work the top events," said Graham Waters. "I am confident that this will lead to a better understanding between the two camps, better information for the WSF Review Board to consider when reviewing International Referee nominations, and, ultimately, to better and more consistent refereeing."

White and Palmer in Bermuda
check out the Caption Comp

Kyme breakthrough in Bermuda
overshadows White & Palmer show  23-Sep

Mat Wescott reports in Bermuda's Royal Gazette
A match-up between two of squash’s top stars was supposed to be the highlight of the Docksiders World Class Exhibition but local boy Nick Kyme did his best to grab the limelight.

At a sold-out Bermuda Squash Racquets Association  the crowd, it is not unfair to say, had turned out to see the main event, world number two Dave Palmer against number three John White, rather than the warm-up act of Kyme against Gary Plumstead.

But Kyme, in his first year as a professional, made sure he would be talked about afterwards after overcoming his long-time adversary Plumstead for the very first time.

Plumstead is the Caribbean champion and Kyme has never beaten the South African in around 20 meetings, both official and unofficial.

After losing the opening game 13-15 it seemed like the match might go true to form but Kyme fought back and prevailed in the next three 15-11, 15-12, 15-7.
“I was fired up,” said a delighted Kyme afterwards. “I knew I could do it, I just had to concentrate.”

In the Caribbean final in Barbados in August, the 22-year-old had taken one game off Plumstead in a losing cause and he said he used this is as catalyst in front of a home audience on Friday.

“I’ve been close to him before but only in practice and to take a game off him in the Caribbean gave me a big boost of confidence because I didn’t think I played that well down there,” he said. “I had a definite game-plan, but I’ve always had one when I play him, it’s just that I didn’t have any mental breakdowns which normally hamper me from implementing the game plan,” Kyme added. “I was able to play my game and so I didn’t have to try to play balls that he was hitting comfortably. I was keeping him under pressure.”

Some might say that Plumstead simply had an off day and to some extent Kyme agreed, though he believed he played a major part in that. “I would say that I’ve seen Gary play better, but I know his game so I knew that if I could make him rush his shots then he would make mistakes,” he said.

At the end of the day it was only one match and there was no silverware to show for it, but for Kyme it was a result of significant importance. “The result means a lot because beating Gary any time is huge,” he said. “You know that he is always going to give one hundred percent and he really hates to lose, but also it proves to me that I have been making progress and that I am on the right track training wise.”

Meanwhile, Australian Palmer, a Bermuda resident, and White, an Australian who represents Scotland, put on a performance just as good as the opener.

Palmer, who missed out on playing in the Bermuda Open last year after going down with appendicitis, rushed into a 2-0 lead over White, beaten semi-finalist in that event. But White fought back to level to set up an intriguing deciding game which Palmer eventually won 15-14.

Palmer's advice to Bermuda's young guns: Train hard and believe in your own ability

Power launches 'Dive Guy' clothing range  12-Sep
Montreal, Canada (Sept. 11, 2003) – Dominator Clothing and international squash champion Jonathon Power announced today that they have teamed up to launch a new line of signature squash apparel called Dive Guy.

Dominator Dive Guy apparel will feature premium, high-performance fabrics including shirts, shorts, socks, wristbands and headbands tailored for squash play.  Full story

Tania BaileyBailey needs to learn to breathe  11-Sep
Tania Bailey has been told she needs to learn how to breathe before she can walk out on a squash court again, reports Peterborough Now.

The former world number four has suffered a nightmare eight months and has been forced to pull out of next month's British Open. The Stamford star's woes began when she contracted a mystery virus in December and since then she has hardly set foot on a court and has seen her world ranking plummet.

But having been to see 10 doctors, undergone 12 blood tests and several scans her problems have been put down to her inability to breathe properly. Bailey has just undergone an operation on her nose at Nuffield Hospital near Cambridge to clear her nasal passages and hopes to be back playing within a month, once she has undergone breathing rehabilitation.

"That last eight months have been a nightmare," said Bailey. "In all that time I have never managed to feel any better or anyone tell me exactly why I was feeling like I was. But now the specialists have put it down to the fact I can't breathe through my nose. I have not been able to since I was about 15.

"I have scar tissue which is blocking my nostrils and I have been breathing through my mouth. Also I was told my breathing was too shallow, so I don't get enough oxygen into my lungs and that I use my chest muscles instead of my stomach muscles to breathe. So now I have to start breathing rehab and learn to breathe properly, but hopefully it will mean the end of my problems.

"I am desperate to get back on court and get back to where I was. At the time I was playing the best squash of my career, but have now lost eight months and it will take time to get back to where I was. But I am still young and hopefully I have five or six injury-free years ahead of me."

Bailey has targeted the Weymuller US Open in mid-October as a possible return date.
Original story from Peterborough Now

Byron Davis joins Australia's AIS  11-Sep
The Australian Institute of Sport has announced the appointment of Byron Davis as a member of its AIS squash coaching staff. Davis, who is the High Performance Coach of South Australian Squash, will work alongside former world champion Geoff Hunt, who continues his lead role in the AIS Squash Program.

Davis is a former AIS athlete who's highest PSA World Ranking was 14 back in 1998. He won a silver medal for Australia in doubles at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
AIS Director Michael Scott said Davis' vast experience as a former international player and coach would prove invaluable to the program.

"We're thrilled to have someone of Byron's ability working alongside Geoff Hunt and Rodney Martin to help achieve the goals of the AIS Squash Program," Mr Scott said. "Geoff will continue to oversee the strategic technical direction of the program as well as be a mentor coach to Byron and former world squash champion Rodney Martin who rounds off an excellent coaching staff.

"The reality is that to be internationally competitive in the fierce world of sport, athletes must have a high level of service. The AIS continues to deliver world best practices across all areas and disciplines, including having the best coaches."

Squash Australia also welcomed the appointment of Davis. "Byron will prove to be a great asset to the AIS Squash Program and Australian Squash in general," said Norman Fry, the Chief Executive Officer of Squash Australia.

The AIS Squash Program began in 1985 and has produced world champions such as Rodney Martin, Rodney Eyles, and Michelle Martin. The Federal Government, through the Australian Sports Commission, funds the AIS Squash Program.

USSRA appoints new CEO  11-Sep
United States Squash Racquets Association President Ken Stillman has announced that Palmer Page has been named the Association’s new Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Page will lead the effort to fulfill the USSRA’s mission to promote and develop the growth of squash.

Page, 53, will oversee all aspects of USSRA operations including focusing on elite players and the US international squash teams, growth of membership, membership services, fund raising, new technology initiatives, and the support and further development of the emerging multicultural community youth enrichment initiatives of organizations such as Squashbusters, Street and City Squash and SquashSmarts. 
Full release

Nimick launches US Pro Circuit  10-Sep
NEWS: John Nimick's Event Engine has announced the creation of a new 6-event US professional circuit, beginning with this week's US Open in Boston ... Full Story

Pakistan's 30 get sponsorship deals  05-Sep
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has arranged sponsorships for top 30 squash players of the country and recruited them with different national departments to solve their financial concerns, disclosed PSF senior vice president Rashid Kalim to the Pakistan Daily Times. The report continues:

He said the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Mari Gas Company (MGC), Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Pakistan Railways, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Higher Education Commission (HEC) had ensured the sponsorship to the players and formally recruited them. The players are Mansoor Zaman, Shahid Zaman and Arshad Iqbal Burki (PIA), Zubair Ali Khan, Khalid Atlas, Asghar Khan and Majed Hussain (Army), Naveed Atlas, Safeerullah Khan and Farhan Mehboob (PAF), Farrukh Zaman, Khayal Muhammad, Saeed Hasan and Shah Nawaz (MGC), Yasir Butt, Rizwan Ahmed, Aqib Hanif, Alamzeb Junior and Amir Atlas (PSO), Faisal Sarwar, Muhammad Naveed, Adeel Hanif and Salahuddin (Railways), Majid Khan, Basit Ashfaq and Waseem Shad (CAA), Asghar Khan, Zahid Naseer, Ali Ayub and Attiqur Rehman (HEC).

All the players will participate in the annual national championships under the flag of their relevant departments. Meanwhile, the PSF has also succeeded in striking a deal with the PIA for free travel. The national air carrier will sponsor the tickets and other travel expenditures of all the members of the Pakistan team for its international commitments.

However, US visa problems continue to plague Pakistani players. Sponsored or not, after last year's problems obtaining visas for the US Open, this year's event goes ahead without any Pakistani players, as they didn't even apply.

"What is the use of trying when you know that your application will be rejected by the (US) Embassy," Mansoor Zaman, told Pakistan's The News. Mansoor’s application last year was rejected because he had recently traveled to Egypt at that time. "I am a professional squash player and have to go anywhere in the world to play in tournaments. I can’t just stop going a country just because another give me a visa for doing that."

Although Shahid Zaman is part of the sponsorship deal, he has been left out of Pakistan's team for October's World Team Championships in Austria. The Daily Times reports:

Pakistan is participating in the World Team Squash Championship without its top seed player Shahid Zaman. The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has dropped him on disciplinary grounds and for not taking part in the national trials, announced PSF senior vice president Rashid Kalim in a news conference here on Wednesday.

While announcing the four-member Pakistan squad for the championship, he said the national federation was giving chance to a young and talented player over Shahid Zaman. “We are optimistic that Pakistan team will perform well in the championship,” he said.

Coach Rehmat Khan said that players would give their best and come up to the expectations of the people during the championship. He said the federation had selected the super fit and most talented players from the available lot and they had the potential to upset the top players of the world.

Squad: Mansoor Zaman, Farrukh Zaman, Majid Khan, Khayal Muhammad. Rehmat Khan (coach), Karamatullah Choudhary (manager), Zarar Azim (official), Rashid Kalim (head of contingent).

Nicol launches interactive CD  03-Sep
World number one Peter Nicol has launched an interactive CD that promises to "improve your squash game - all you need is time, commitment and your computer."

Nicol adds: "This is an interactive CD designed to help you become the complete squash player. It has been developed in association with Quintic Video Analysis Software.

"This unique CD is as detailed as any coaching manual, but has the added interaction of tournament video clips and voiceovers of my thoughts and experiences in the game.

"It is an invaluable coaching tool as it enables a coach and player to analyse technique in fine detail. The CD caters for all standards giving instruction on how to play the many different squash strokes with accompanying video footage of real life tournaments. Using voiceovers I analyse each video clip, and how each shot type relates to the building of a winning rally.

"Performance analysis is also included to demonstrate how the game is played at the very top level. The system allows video footage of any player to be viewed through the Quintic software. This provides the viewer with a unique opportunity to analyse and improve their technique and compare their game to the world’s best.

"The CD also contains information on how I train day to day and prepare for the big matches. The 2003 range of all Prince Squash products, including my new racket – the More Dominant Game, is also shown.

More details, and buy the CD from the SquashPlayer store

Ritwik BhattacharyaRitwik aiming for the World Open  03-Sep
Fresh from back to back tournament wins in New Zealand, India's world number 72 Ritwik Bhattacharya is aiming for the world top 30, and qualification for December's World Open in Pakistan is the first step on his journey.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times the 23-year-old top ranked Indian talked about the progress he has made in two years' in London under the guidance of Neil Harvey.

"All I can say is that Neil has worked wonders. My wins and subsequent jump in the rankings are because of his guidance," says Ritwik, who is sponsored by JCT Phagwara.

"I couldn't have improved so drastically in India where most of the players are instinctive. But in England, Harvey paid special emphasis on movement and technique. You can go to a certain level playing by instincts, but it is the technique and movement, which help you in the long run," said Ritwik, who won the North Island Championship and the Royal Oak Open in New Zealand last month.

"Now there is more method in my game and I feel a new strength. I am now eyeing a World Open slot in Lahore. I have to improve my rankings from 72 to 64 to make the grade. With quite a few tournaments coming up, I hope to qualify for the big event," said the Delhiite. "Before the two wins at New Zealand, I was placed 97th, so you see how quickly the ranking improves with each victory," said Ritwik who is ranked five in Asia.

Another thing which he sorely misses in India and says is in abundance in Chingford is competition.

"Lack of competition is the bane in India. Harvey told me if I wanted to improve, I will have to train with top international players. And thanks to my main sponsors JCT and Asahi Glass and Punj Lloyd, I have got the opportunity to train with the likes of Peter Nicol, Ong Beng Hee, Mohammed Azlan and others," he said.

About the goals he has set for the coming years, Ritwick said: "At 23, I have another 7-8 years of squash in me, so I am setting realistic targets to be achieved every year. My first target is to qualify for the World Open in Lahore, then push my ranking up to 30 .... then 20."

Full stories from the Hindustan Times, Times of India and

Hong Kong to host Women's World Open  26-Aug
The 20th Women's World Open Squash Championship will take place in Hong Kong from 7 to 13 December. Hosted by Hong Kong Squash and sanctioned by the World Squash Federation (WSF) and the Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA), the premier event on the women's international calendar will be staged at the Hong Kong Squash Centre, with the final rounds at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Kowloon.  Full story & photos

World Open for Pakistan  31-Jul
Following an agreement between the PSA and the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF), the 2003 Men's World Open Squash Championship will take place in Lahore, Pakistan, from 14-21 December.

The 25th World Open, which has been staged in Pakistan three times since 1984 but never before in Lahore, will be hosted jointly by the PSF and the Punjab Squash Association. Boasting a $170,000 prize fund, the 2003 event will feature a 64-man draw, preceded by a 32-draw qualifying event from 12-13 December.

"The World Open is the PSA Tour's biggest event of the year and we are delighted to have struck this deal with the PSF to return for the fourth time to Pakistan - one of the most important countries for our sport," said PSA Executive Director Gawain Briars. "Coming hot on the heels of the announcement of the British Open in Nottingham in October, this has been a great month for world squash!

"I am further delighted that the tradition and prestige of the world's pinnacle event has been maintained following the fabulous presentation last year of the World Open in Belgium. I and all the PSA players look forward eagerly to Pakistan demonstrating once again why they are such a world force in squash, not just on the court but in their generous presentation of major events."

Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat, President of the Pakistan Squash Federation, added: "As President of the Pakistan Squash Federation, I am thankful to the Professional Squash Association for awarding the World Open Squash Championship 2003 to Pakistan. Continuing our traditional gesture, we will do our best to host the prestigious tournament in a befitting manner.

"We hope that the tournament will be contested by the top guns of the squash world. We will also make it a memorable event and all the participants and dignitaries will enjoy a comfortable stay at Lahore in December this year. May the victory go to the best performer!"

Pakistan legend Jahangir Khan won the first World Open hosted by his country in 1984. The next, in 1993, saw Jahangir make his record ninth final appearance - with rival Jansher Khan triumphing in four games. The 1996 event provided further glory for Pakistan as Jansher claimed his final and record eighth title in a victory over Australia's Rodney Eyles.

The 2003 event will attract all of the world's top players including Australia's title-holder David Palmer, England's world No1 and 1999 champion Peter Nicol, and the 1998 champion Jonathon Power from Canada.

SquashPlayer broke the story earlier today, based on reports in the Pakistan press ...
Full report from the Daily Times   Full report from Dawn

Ahmed Safwat passes away  30-Jul
Ahmed Safwat (1947-2003)

Photo tribute from Fritz Borchert

The Squash world is mourning the sudden death on Tuesday (29 July) evening of former Egyptian international Ahmed Safwat.

One of the most popular figures the game has ever produced, Safwat was born on 6th June 1947 in Cairo, but spent most of his recent life in England with his wife and family.

A world top ten player in the 70s, Safwat was noted for the grace and artistry which set him apart from most of his contemporaries. He moved to Germany to coach for a period at the latter end of his career before moving to Courtlands Park, near Southend in the UK, where his wife Ann worked.

In recent years, he coached Egyptian junior girl and women's teams. Two months ago he went back to his roots as coach at the Heliopolis Club in Cairo, planning to split time between Egypt and England. He won the World Masters O40 title; was twice the O50 champion; and was top seed for the World O55 title in Finland next week.

It was on Monday evening that he was taken to the ICU Hospital in Cairo after complaining of chest pains following a coaching session at the Heliopolis Club. After an examination by a cardiologist he was allowed to go home but advised to have further tests. Having booked his flight back to London on Thursday, he decided to have these back in England - but then suffered a heart attack later that evening at home and was rushed back to the hospital.

Although he appeared to have recovered on Tuesday, he suffered a further attack some 24 hours later and was unable to be revived.

Dr Samiha Aboul Magd of the Egyptian Squash Federation visited Safwat in hospital on Tuesday. "I stayed with him for almost an hour - he was fine, almost back to normal, and asked the doctor to go back home but was told that it was better that he stayed for the night. It is a great loss for us here at the Heliopolis Club, his own club and the last place he worked for. It is a loss for Egypt and for international squash."

England's Jonah Barrington, who beat Safwat in the quarter-finals of the 1973 British Open en-route to winning the title for a sixth time, remembers his opponent with much affection: "He was a lovely man, a natural gentleman who was great to play - there was hardly ever a let. He was very skilled and played the side wall brilliantly. He represented his country with pride and honour and did a great job for professional squash. He was also a very significant personality when there were a number of personalities in the sport. Everybody warmed to him, adults and youngsters.

"He was also a very handsome man, with eyelashes that most women would have died for!" Barrington recalls.

World Squash Federation (WSF) President Jahangir Khan has also expressed his grief at the passing of such a wonderful Squash player and true gentleman of sport: "Ahmed's passing diminishes us all. Squash will not be the same without him," said the ten-times British Open champion from Pakistan.

"There's a song which bemoans the fact that the good die young and Ahmed's passing is just such an example," said Andrew Shelley, Director of WISPA and former Events Manager at the SRA. "I have known him for twenty five years and never heard a bad word spoken about him. He was a gentle man who was also a gentleman.

"It is the most awful tragedy for his wife Ann and his family, but the whole world of squash that have seen his silken play, his coaching skills and wonderful demeanour will miss him too. He was a special guy."

Photo tribute from Fritz Borchert

Carla Khan retains Pakistan title  19-Jul
Following last week's last-minute appeal by the Pakistan Squash Federation, Carla Khan, the London-based granddaughter of squash legend Azam Khan, travelled to Islamabad to successfully defend her title in the PC Bhurban Pakistan National Women's Championships.

Khan retained the title with ease, brushing aside all challengers and dropping just one point in the nine-minute final against Muqaddas Ashraf Full results

Nottingham Wins British Open Bid  16-Jul
The most prestigious event in world squash will be held in Nottingham, England, for the first time in its 81-year history when the 2003 British Open Championships are staged on an all-glass showcourt at the city's Albert Hall from 01-05 October, following qualifying rounds at Nottingham Squash Club from 29 September.

The announcement was made today by experienced sports promoters John Beddington and John Nimick, who acquired the British Open rights from England Squash in February.

The 2003 championships will feature a 16-man-draw PSA Tour event; a 16-draw WISPA World Tour tournament; and a full programme of men's and women's 'age-group' events.

"We are delighted to be able to keep these great championships alive - this is truly the start of a new era for the British Open," said joint Tournament Chairman John Beddington. "Despite acquiring the rights only five months ago, we were determined to run the event this year, even without a title sponsor.
  Full story

'Millionaire' David aiming at World title  15-Jul
Two-time junior world champion Nicol David is seriously aiming to add the senior World Title to her collection, and has clinched a six-figure sponsorship deal to help her achieve her dream.

According to a report in the Malay Mail, she has received a two-year sponsorship worth RM1.3 million from Mulpha International. Mulpha have been sponsoring Nicol the last two years but the amount was much smaller.

The latest sponsorship is the biggest individual sponsorship for a Malaysian athlete after Ong Beng Hee, Malaysia's No 1 squash player. Beng Hee received RM1 million in sponsorship from Dunlop for last year.

Nicol's sponsorship will be based on her performance and will also include incentives.

"It will be really tough winning the world title but it is my ultimate target," said Nicol. "It depends so much on my performance in the professional circuit and of course, I must reduce the gap between me and the top 10 players.

"I am happy with my progress in the tournaments I have competed in in the last three months. It will be good if I can keep improving as I head towards my target. For now, I want to break into the world's top 20." Last March, Nicol gained much from a training stint at the Liz Irving Elite Squash Academy in Amsterdam.

SRAM president Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir said plans are afoot to send Nicol for further stints in Amsterdam. "This is the best way for Nicol to improve and win the world title one day. She showed great progress on returning from her three-month Amsterdam stint." Nicol's immediate task is the Malaysian Open next month.

Denis Low, Director of Mulpha International, said they are proud to be associated with Nicol. We have been with Nicol for years and we will continue supporting her till she wins the world title. "We believe Nicol, with her determination and potential, can do it."

Full story from the Malay Mail

Pakistan lines up 2004 World Open bid  14-Jul
The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has lodged a bid to host the 2004 World Open with the PSA, reports Pakistan's Daily News.

"We have made a solid bid for the World Open and now are hoping to get a favourable response from the PSA," said PSF's Senior Vice President Air Vice Marshal Raashid Kalim.

Pakistan hosted two World Opens in the 1990s, and last year's successful Pakistan Open, to be repeated this October as a $120,000 event in Lahore, has encouraged the association to move for the top event once more, with a minimum $150,000 prize fund.

"We are confident that sponsorship will not be a problem if the World Open is awarded to Pakistan. Then the security conditions have also improved a lot in this country so the players too should feel safe in coming here," said Kalim.

With no World Opens in 2000 and 2001 and no sign of a 2003 event, acceptance of the Pakistan bid would at least signal an improvement in frequency for the event most players now consider the most prestigious in squash. The Women's World Open is still undecided for this year, with Hong Kong so far the only country to have publicly declared a bid.

Full report from The News


Academy aims to restore Pakistan's rule   13-Jul

Pakistan's North Western Frontier Province, birthplace of many of the world’s great squash players, is to have a new academy which aims to regain Pakistan's lost ground in world squash, reports Pakistan's Daily Times.

Briefing journalists after presiding over the general council meeting of the association, Col ® Ghulam Hussain, NWFP Squash Association president, said the establishment of the academy was approved and it would soon be operational. “At the academy, talented players will be polished to help Pakistan rule the squash world again”, he said.

To a question, he agreed the Frontier province in general and Peshawar in particular produced some world’s great players without the academy. “We have decided to organize the game on scientific lines. To survive in the world of squash, modern approach to the game is a must”, he maintained. “With the approval of the academy, the association also wants to spread the game across the province. We will launch talent hunt campaign in every district of the province”, said Hussain, who is also administrative secretary to the NWFP government.

He said the district-level tournaments will be encouraged and district associations made effective. “Seven regional teams will be formed and players will be provided with the coaching facility. We want to develop squash phobia everywhere and hope the district governments would include allocation for sports promotion in their annual budgets. We want to integrate all the people and departments to promote the game. It needs organization”, he stressed. However, the association’s ambitious plans for the game’s promotion might hit snags since its financial health has been reported unstable. The association’s bank balance is stated to be around Rs one million.

“We have much talent in the province, but face financial restraint”, Hussain admitted. “We need to find out talent at grassroots level and for this purpose we need to search for talent at schools”. He urged the provincial government to construct one squash court in each middle or high school. Pakistan lost ground in the international arena after Jansher Khan retired some five years back and the Pakistan Squash Federation is struggling to find another champion for the country.

Carla Khan
Pakistan in Khan Appeal  12-Jul

The Pakistan Squash Federation has invited Carla Khan to defend her title in next week's National Women's Championships in an attempt to mend fences with the London-based granddaughter of Pakistan squash legend Azam Khan.

The following report from Pakistan's Dawn Online explains ...

KARACHI, July 11: The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has invited London-based squash professional Carla Khan to participate in the forthcoming PC Bhurban National Women's Squash Championship.

A PSF spokesman said on Friday that the Carla, a top 50 player in the international women's rankings who won the PC Bhurban Championship last year, was sent the invitation a few days back. But he said that Carla who represented Pakistan on the international circuit on a few occasions has so far not given any response to the PSF offer to compete in the tournament starting in Bhurban from July 15.

Carla, a grand daughter of Pakistan squash legend Azam Khan, was pursued by PSF officials to represent Pakistan on the international level last year. She came to Pakistan last summer and competed in the 2002 PC Bhurban Championship, beating the local number one Bushra Haider in straight games in the final to lift the trophy.

Carla, who played for England both at the international senior and junior level, was all set to represent Pakistan at the 2002 Commonwealth games in Manchester (England), the Asia Games in Busan (South Korea) and the South Asian federation (SAF) Games in Islamabad.

But she was stopped by the Games' organisers from competing in the Manchester extravaganza a day before the start of the event on the grounds that she could not play for Pakistan as she was not a resident of the country.

Following the incident, Carla, blaming that that the PSF did not help her during the crisis, fell out with the Pakistani officials and refused to play for the country of her ancestors. Now almost a year later, the PSF has made an attempt to mend fences with the player by inviting her to compete in the National Championship.

The Burban event, one of the most eagerly-awaited events of the national women's circuit will be even more attractive this year as the organisers have brought a sixty percent increase in the prize money of the tournament to be played on a draw of 16. The prize purse has been raised to Rs50,000.

While Carla is unlikely to appear in the tournament, Karachi's Bushra Haider will be the favourite to regain the crown in Bhurban. Bushra won the Karachi leg of the National Women's Championship last month and is likely to be installed as the top seed in the event that will bring together all the leading ladies of national squash. 

Event details from

Rebecca Chiu Receives Hong Kong ‘Medal of Honour’ 04-Jul

Rebecca Chiu Hong Kong’s Asian Games Gold Medalist, and world ranked 19, Rebecca Chiu brought glory again for Squash in Hong Kong as she became one of only two athletes, out of 75 recipients of awards, in Hong Kong's annual honours list.

Congratulations were in order when it was announced on 1st July in the Hong Kong SAR 2003 Honours List that she is to receive the ‘Medal of Honour’ for her international success in squash competition.

Hong Kong Squash Chairman Mr. David Mui said: “This is excellent news for Rebecca and Squash. Her ongoing success is an inspiration for all, especially our young players to model and aim towards."

The news will come as a boost to the Hong Kong squash community, which is looking at the possibility of hosting the Women's World Open in December. HK Squash Executive Director Heather Dayton, in a report in the South China Morning Post, says:

"We have approached the government, asking for funds to host this prestigious event from December 7-14. The initial response has been very good and I'm optimistic that the tournament will go ahead."

The World Squash Federation are looking for a city to host the 19th World Open. The asking rate to stage the event is expected to be US$50,000.

"The World Squash Federation are seeking a venue for the World Open and are very keen that Hong Kong host it. Normally the prize money for a World Open is around US$90,000. But the fact that it is late in the day could see us secure the event for less," Deayton said.

In the wake of the government's announcement that HK$200 million of its $1 billion relaunch campaign would be spent on arts and sports, Hong Kong Squash has made a bid to host the World Open as well as get the Men's Hong Kong Open - due to be held in August but cancelled earlier due to the Sars outbreak - back on track.

"Wherever possible, the government is keen to back a world event and not simply a Hong Kong Open. This is even though we are certain to get the best men's players to Hong Kong," Deayton said. 'The last time we hosted the World Open was back in 1995 when Australia's Michelle Martin won,' Deayton said. 'But this time there will be added local interest as our own Rebecca Chiu will be in the top draw.'

Asian Games gold medallist Chiu is currently ranked 18th on the WISPA list and is also the top-ranked Asian woman. Her presence in the main draw is assured. Deayton said holding the World Open will give Chiu the opportunity to play in front of her home fans. "It will also give us the chance to field some of our other girls in the qualifying event."

Nicol David ready to take on the world once more  04-Jul
It’s good news for Malaysia. Teenager Nicol David is back and hungry for success once more, reports The Star from Malaysia.

Sharon Wee & Nicol David at the Texas Open ...After lying low for a while late last year following her debacle at the Busan Asian Games, Nicol said yesterday that she was feeling the “adrenalin rush in her game again” and aiming for a spot in the world’s top 20 by the end of the year.

“For the last few months, I have been motivating and pushing myself to achieve better results. I am enjoying the game once more and I am already feeling the adrenalin rush for my game again,” said Nicol.

The two-time world junior champion decided to take a break late last year after finishing second to Rebecca at the Asian Games in October. She was then ranked 18th in the world and was expected to beat Rebecca to retain her Asiad gold. The defeat did not go down well and she was criticised for her performance. She left for New Zealand in November to mull over her future and then went to Amsterdam in March to revive her career.

“Any normal person would have been disappointed over the Asian Games incident. I had hoped for support, especially from the media, after the defeat but I did not get them. But I have learned to accept the defeat. The loss is part of my learning process,” said Nicol.

“Believe it or not, I’m a better person now, more grown up after the Asiad loss. I have not lost sight of what I want in squash. I am, however, not rushing into things,” she said.  “I will try to break into the top 20 by the end of this year. If I can achieve the target earlier, then I will set higher goals.”

Nicol’s next assignment will be the Malaysian Open from Aug 7-10.  “I have not played at home for a while now. Hopefully, I will get a good draw. 
Full report from The Star

Scottish Squash appoint Performance Director  02-Jul
Scottish Squash in partnership with sportscotland have announced the appointment of Paul Frank as their new National Performance Director. The post has been funded by an award of £234,510 over four years from sportscotland Lottery Fund’s National Coach Support Programme, which provides financial support to a limited number of recognised governing bodies of sport for the employment of full-time national coaches to develop and improve elite performances.

The post is co-ordinated through Scottish Squash and the East of Scotland Institute of Sport based at Heriot-Watt University and is one of the first appointments to be linked with an Area Institute. Paul Frank will be instrumental in the implementation and delivery of a quality training and competition programme for the National Junior Excellence Programme. His remit will also include assisting senior individuals and teams to prepare for World, European and Commonwealth Championships.

Paul Frank has experience of playing, coaching elite junior and senior players and working as a coach educator in a variety of countries. He was formerly employed by Heriot-Watt University as Head Coach of the internationally recognised Squash Academy, before spending the past year coaching at Dartmouth College in the USA.

Commenting on his new post Paul Frank said: “I am honoured to be chosen for this position as the first National Performance Director for squash. The position has a clear focus on producing individual Scottish players and teams capable of making a significant impact on World Squash. “Scotland has a proud tradition of producing world class players and I believe we have the appropriate player pool, support structures and coaching staff to continue to achieve this vision.”

Derek Welch, Administration Manager of Scottish Squash, said: “The appointment of a National Performance Director as a full-time professional post is a key element to the success of our long term strategy. The appointment demonstrates Scottish Squash’s ambition to improve on its current international status and its commitment to producing world class athletes.”

Alastair Dempster, Chairman of sportscotland, said: “I am delighted that Scottish Squash has appointed their new National Performance Director funded by an award from the sportscotland Lottery Fund of £234,510 over four years. I am sure his knowledge and experience will be invaluable in developing the sport’s performance plan.

“This new flexibility within our National Coach Support Programme is ensuring that governing bodies can put in place the type of support that will benefit them most in their quest to deliver at the highest level.”

Male coach ban causes problems for Pakistan's women  02 Jul
As one of Pakistan’s bright young hopes in women’s squash, 19-year-old Saira Abdul Sattar is not about to bow to a new ban by the local Islamist government on male coaches, especially when her coach is the world’s former number two player, according to a report in Pakistan's Daily Times

“I don’t support it all,” Sattar said of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) cabinet announcement in May prohibiting men from coaching sportswomen. “How could I? My coach is Muhibullah Khan,” she said, referring to the former world number two, who is brother and coach of former top-seeded world player Jangshir Khan.

Sattar’s dilemma echoes that of scores of female athletes in the conservative province, where sexes are usually segregated and many families prohibit daughters from sport because they do not want them exposed to men. “There is an attitude among society and families that it’s no good to be coached by a male. My family is quite harsh with me about having a male coach,” she told AFP in the NWFP capital Peshawar’s Qayum Stadium.

The ban, only partially enforced by the ruling Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance of radical Islamic parties, has won mixed responses. Most of Sattar’s co-players are against it, citing the paucity of female coaches in NWFP, but there are plenty who appreciate it and seek full segregation in sport. “In Peshawar, male coaches don’t do their job properly when they’re coaching girls, they get distracted,” said Sadia Khaled, an athlete who represents NWFP in tournaments across Pakistan. “I’d like to see an exclusive sports complex for women, because it’s so unpleasant coming to a male-dominated sports complex. I feel self-conscious training in front of the men here. They tease me.”

Full report & photo from the Daily Times

Fitz steals the show in Melbourne awards  26-Jun
Australia's five-times World Squash Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald stole the show at the 2003 VicSport Awards held in Melbourne this week - claiming a unique double triumph.

VicSport is the peak body for representing sport in Victoria. The awards were introduced in 1974 and have now expanded to 17 categories. Fitz-Gerald treasures these awards, having previously tied with Cathy Freeman for the Sports Woman of the Year Award in 1998, ten years after winning the Junior Athlete Award in 1988.

The former world number one's first success came when she won the 2003 Sports Woman of the Year Award. The 15 original nominees were short-listed to three finalists: Alisa Camplin (Aerial Skiing), Sarah Blanck (Yachting) and Fitz-Gerald - all of whom are current world champions!

Roger Flynn, the Head Squash Coach of the Victorian Institute of Sport who accepted this award on behalf of Sarah, stated: "2002 was very special for Sarah as she went through the year undefeated, which included winning her 5th World Women's Open title, a record for the sport, and winning the gold medal in the Women's Singles at the 2002 Commonwealth Games."

Fitz-Gerald then capped off a unique double, taking the Governor's Award for the Sports Person of the Year from a star-studded field which included World Backstroke Champion Matt Welsh. Again Flynn accepted the trophy on Sarah's behalf, this time from the Governor of Victoria, former Champion miler, John Landy. Unable to be in Melbourne due to commitments made to the WISPA to lead a promotional tour of Russia, Fitz-Gerald said on her website :

"I'm overwhelmed by this news - and so disappointed that I wasn't able to be there in person, especially after being at the event last year. I am very proud to have been recognised in this way, particularly in such exalted company - I am thrilled for myself and delighted for my sport of squash."

First female world squash referee
AUSTRALIA'S Chris Sinclair today became the first female world squash referee, reports

The Sydneysider was elevated to an international squash referee in 1987 and now joins eight male world referees. World referees are the top echelon of international referees and are first in line to officiate top class events such as the world championships and Commonwealth Games.

"I've officiated all the leading men and they don't have any problems with me refereeing their matches, although I've had to earn their respect," Sinclair said. "But if there's a man that hasn't been refereed by me before, he'll whip around the first time he hears my voice as he's not expecting a woman to be in that position."

In October, Sinclair will officiate at the men's world team championships in Vienna, Austria. She has refereed 15 world championships, two world doubles championships, a World Cup and two Commonwealth Games. Sinclair, an Australian history university lecturer, started refereeing 25 years ago.

Scots plan for Open in Edinburgh  23-Jun
Scottish Squash is keen to stage a major event at Edinburgh Castle, according to Elspeth Burnside’s article in the Edinburgh Evening News.

SCOTTISH squash has put into motion ambitious plans to bring a major event to Edinburgh, and the hope is to stage a real extravaganza on the Castle Esplanade. It’s two years since the last Scottish Open when world No.1 Peter Nicol won the title in Perth and sponsorship has always been a problem.

But Derek Welch, from Scottish Squash, is confident that he can get backing from Event Scotland to stage a tournament involving the world’s very best. With Scottish pair John White and Martin Heath both world top ten players, and the Scot Nicol, now turning out for England, still at the top of the rankings, Welch knows he can provide a world-class tournament.

And the Esplanade would be a setting fit to match. It would also follow the trend of staging major events in stunning surroundings. The Egyptian Pyramids provide a back drop for the Al Ahram Open, while New York’s Grand Central Station hosts the Tournament of Champions.

"I’ve already started looking into the possibility of bringing a major tournament to Edinburgh and, hopefully, it will happen in the next year or two," said Welch. "The calibre of player we can provide should secure funding from Event Scotland and the idea is to make it into an annual event.

"Playing tournaments at interesting venues is the way the game is going at the top level, and I don't think you could get much better than Edinburgh Castle.

"It should be an attractive package for sponsors and the search is now on so, ideally, the aim is to have a Scottish Open on the PSA schedule by next year, or at least by 2005."

Seeds were sown for a major event in the Capital last January when White beat Heath in the men’s final of a highly successful Artemis Edinburgh Open and Cassie Jackman, a former world champion, beat Scot Wendy Maitland in the women’s event. The event again takes place next year.

Rachael Grinham - at home in Egypt ...Grinham reaps rewards from Cairo move  14-Jun
Firmly established as a contender for any squash event she enters and happily settled in her new home of Cairo, Rachael Grinham is poised to build upon the excellent run of results and form which have taken her to number three in the world.

In an interview with the Al Ahram Weekly the diminuative Australian talks about her formative years and the benefits her move to Cairo have brought her:

"I live in Egypt. I love Egypt. I love squash and it's my career now," Grinham told Al-Ahram Weekly.

"Australia is far and it's costly travelling from there to the corners of the world to play tournaments. So many players head for Europe, especially Holland and England, to save time and money in travelling but still the cost of living there is high."

Grinham lived in Holland for three years and compares it with Egypt. "In Egypt, I really like it here. In Holland there was no coaching. I was totally independent. The weather was depressing. In Egypt I have a stable life. The weather is cheerful. People are kind and supportive."

Grinham is all praise for her coaches. "I have really many coaches. They are so well- trained. They make me think well, read the game before playing, self-motivate me and push me to play hard. I really benefited a lot. And the facilities are great."

And world number one Carol Owens is impressed too. After facing Rachael in three consecutive finals, she says: "She's stronger than before. I noticed that throughout the past year. It's really amazing of her to choose to live in Egypt and it's amazing that it suited her style of play."

The Al Ahram Weekly article finishes with a look to the future:

So Grinham is playing like an Egyptian. Perhaps one day she'll walk like one, too.

Full article from the Al Ahram Weekly

Nottingham launches 'Train like the Pros'  14-Jun
Richard O’Conner, professional at the Nottingham Squash Club which is base to many of the world’s leading players,  has launched a new ‘Train like the Pros’ Summer Camp at the club in July and August.

O’Conner is a vastly experience coach working in the hotbed of professional squash in England, probably the world. Working together with advanced coach Gordon Hill, the two will use their experience to put together intensive summer squash camps that show attention to detail and put the emphasis on training.

The camps will include progressive training instruction, detailed technical analysis an skill development, the latest tactical information, which will be included in the full course notes, match play and video analysis. 

Bailey battles to the 2002 British Open final ...Bailey: 'I almost quit squash'  13-Jun
STAMFORD'S world class squash ace Tania Bailey has considered quitting the sport after being laid low by a rare virus, reports the Stamford & Rutland Mercury

The 23-year-old won a Commonwealth Games silver medal last summer and shot to number four in the world rankings. She was on course to become the world's greatest female player until being hit by the debilitating Epstein Barr virus earlier this year.

Bailey has been too weak to train and has to had to withdraw from a string of tournaments — the latest being the Hurghada International in Egypt, when Bailey pulled out before her quarter-final.

Doctors are puzzled by her illness, which recently caused Eastenders TV actress Barbara Windsor to take a long break from the show.

"I have felt so low I have thought of packing it in and getting a job," said Bailey. "I had a stomach upset in Egypt and because I was still recovering from the virus I felt totally empty before my quarter-final so I decided to pull out.

"I won my first round match but I hated every minute of being on court. I literally couldn't see the ball at times because I felt so bad."

Bailey has been advised to take vitamins but she fears it will be some time before she can return to full training and become competitive on the world circuit again.

The former world junior champion faces the toughest test of her career. She has already battled back from a serious leg injury following a car crash two years ago, which threatened her career at the top level.

"It's been so frustrating for me — during the four years of my career I have been injured for 18 months," said Bailey. "I really love what I do and I was so lucky to be able to come back after the car crash. I was playing the best squash of my life before this virus but this has really set me back."

Bailey is hoping to recover in time for August tournaments in the Far East.

Full report from the Mercury

Major new event in Kuwait  11-Jun
A major new international squash event will be launched next year in memory of a member of the Kuwaiti Royal family.

The Sheikha Sa'ad Kuwait Open, which will take place in Kuwait City from 28 January to 02 February 2004, will celebrate the life of Sheikha Al Sa'ad Al-Sabah, who died on the 2nd February 2003 at the age of just 38.

The tournament will be a sporting memorial to a remarkable woman, who was herself a first class squash player. The popular Sheikha was Managing Director of International Marketing KPC Oil and a dedicated member of the Kuwaiti Royal family, deeply committed to her country.

The Sheikha Sa'ad Kuwait Open is expected to attract the world's top men and women players. The WISPA Open will be a Gold event, offering a $42,500 prize fund, whilst the men's PSA 5 star event will provide a $65,000 prize fund.

Details of the new event were confirmed at a meeting in Kuwait attended by Gawain Briars, Executive Director of the PSA, and Robert Edwards the PSA World Tour Technical Director. Hosted by the Kuwait Royal family, the gathering included Sheikha Fadia Al-Sabah, sister of the late Sheikha Sa'ad Al-Sabah, Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, and Sheikh Fahad Jaber Ahmed Al-Sabah, son of the Emir and also Chairman of the Public Authority for Youth and Sport.

Commenting on the exciting new Kuwaiti initiative, Gawain Briars said: "I am delighted that Kuwait is returning to the international calendar with the Sheikha Sa'ad Kuwait Open, hosting a WISPA Gold event and a PSA 5 star event. The hospitality and generous nature of the dignitaries we met leaves me in no doubt that our players will be warmly welcomed back to a country proud of its sporting traditions. Adel Al Ghareeb has achieved a remarkable feat in brokering this festival but I pay special tribute to Sheikha Fadia, Sheikh Salem and Sheikh Fahad for their hospitality and vision in deciding to make our proposals a reality. Their commitment to the Associations will be truly vindicated."

WISPA Director Andrew Shelley added: "Every new championship is a real boost for the Tour and our members. Although there is sadness at the catalyst for it, we are sure that it will come to be seen as an exciting way to celebrate the life of the Sheikha."

Under the Chairmanship of Sheikha Fadia Al-Sabah, Robert Edwards will direct the event with the request that it be a festival of music - dance and sport at its ultimate best. Ex-PSA member Adel Al Ghareeb of Kuwait will be the Tournament Director.


The inaugural Prince English Open, to be held in August, will be played on a spectacular all-glass court from glass wall inventor Prospec. The company developed the very first squash court glass wall in 1977 and went on in the 1980s to create the world’s first all-glass tournament court.

The Prince English Open will be held at The Crucible, Sheffield, from 13th to 17th August 2003. The tournament, which is the first English Open ever staged and boasts a prize fund of $30,000, has been brought to Sheffield by world number one Peter Nicol and his company, Eventis Sports Marketing.

The all-glass court from Prospec will enable spectators all around the Crucible auditorium to have an unimpeded view into the court, while the coloured surface treatment on the glass will ensure the very best playing conditions. This combination of coloured walls with a coloured floor will make watching top-level squash a thrilling experience.
  Full story

WSF opens up scoring debate  31-May

The Task Force set up by the World Squash Federation with a brief to find a single scoring system for squash has failed to reach agreement, so the world body has opened up the debate. Ted Wallbutton reports:

In February 2002 the Management Committee of the WSF established a Task Force, headed by Joyce Buckley, which was asked to recommend ways in which a common scoring system for Squash could be agreed between PSA, WISPA and WSF.

After several meetings between Joyce, Gawain Briars and Andrew Shelley it has proved difficult to recommend any mutually acceptable solution. The topic will form part of the WSF Conference in Vienna in October, but Joyce has asked for a questionnaire to be circulated to everyone connected with world Squash to quantify the current situation worldwide and ask for opinions. The data from this will be used in Vienna to present a picture of the current situation and provide a platform for discussion and identification of a solution.

I am attaching a copy of the original brief to the Scoring Task Force and also a questionnaire, which I would be grateful if you could complete and return to me before 1 July 2003.

We would like to have as many responses to the questionnaire as possible, particularly from the club level of Squash. Could you please consider sending the questionnaire and brief onwards to people who can help us gain data on the exact usage of Standard and PARS scoring at club level and above.

The questionnaire & brief (Word document)

PSAPSA Appoints Pro-Active TV  15-May

The PSA has announced the appointment of Pro-Active Television as its exclusive TV and sponsorship development partners for the next three years, with Pro-Active Television set to handle all international TV rights for PSA-sanctioned events worldwide ...

In addition, Pro-Active will exclusively represent a new sponsorship package agreed with the PSA, aimed at bringing sponsors to a series of top PSA events to be known as the PSA Super Series World Tour.

Gawain Briars, Executive Director of the PSA, said:  "Our sport is continuing to grow worldwide and the time had come to have an expert partner who could concentrate on maximising television coverage and handling the broadcast-related sponsorship opportunities available to us.

"After six years of producing our international TV output, Pro-Active were the ideal and trusted partner to help us co-ordinate these two closely-linked areas and put fresh energy into our marketing efforts.  Because the PSA is becoming busier and busier, co-ordinating more new events, we needed someone to work alongside us who could just concentrate on the overall commercial picture," Briars explained.

"This is part of a long term plan that will keep the profile of professional squash as high as possible on television around the world, bringing it to the attention of major sponsors who can benefit from the coverage and the associations with our sport as it enters some very exciting times."

Pro-Active's TV programming for PSA has been featured on a number of networks around the world, including Sky Sports, Star TV, Fox Sports, Fox Sports World and MNet - which broadcast to more than 116 million homes worldwide.

The projected broadcast roster for this year already includes the following, with other events close to being added:

Tournament of Champions, New York   Feb 22-27, Super Series Finals, London May 12-16, PSA Masters, Qatar  May 19-24,  English Open, Sheffield Aug 13-17, Pakistan Open Oct 10-16, Qatar Classic   Dec 1-5, World Open  TBA, British Open  TBA

New ball game for Cowie  14-May
It's a whole new ball game for Alex Cowie – and judging by yesterday's evidence she appears to be a very quick learner, reports the Eastern Daily Press.

The former national squash coach, who only took up golf four years ago, marked her first appearance in the Norfolk Ladies Championship by qualifying for the matchplay stages of the event with something to spare. Playing in the familiar surroundings of Barnham Broom's Valley Course Cowie performed pretty much to her handicap in testing weather conditions as she put together steady rounds of 84 and 86 for the seventh lowest gross score of the day.

Her performance was also good enough to win the Hannaford Cup for the lowest nett total, her excellent 144 beating Broom colleague Jane Oliver, another of the day's impressive qualifiers, into second place. Cowie now has a daunting clash with another home player, former finalist Jo Ashmore, to look forward to this morning – but whatever happens in that 18-hole encounter she will have exceeded her expectations this week.

"I never thought I had the remotest chance of qualifying – I thought I was here to make up the numbers to be honest," said the 56-year-old novice, one of the highest handicappers in the 40-strong field.

"I've been playing really badly for a few months now and I just thought I'd give it a go. I can't believe it, to be honest! I was very nervous at the start because this is the first event like this I have ever played in. It's not like competing in a squash or tennis event because I know I can play them. I'm not so sure about golf yet but I really enjoy the game and this has given me a big boost."

Cowie is now giving golf her full attention after retiring as squash coach at Barnham Broom.
  Full story from EDP24

Squash World Mourns Oluf Jorgensen  13-May
Oluf Jorgensen, the former President of the Danish Squash Association, died  on Thursday 8th May in hospital in Nottingham, England, where he had been admitted during his presence at the European Team Championships. His untimely death came only two months after his 60th birthday.

"For more than 20 years Oluf was synonymous with Danish Squash, most of the time as President of the national federation. The development and interest in squash in Denmark over the past 10-15 years can largely be attributed to his enthusiasm and drive," said Tom Kjaerbye Larsen, President of the Danish Squash Federation.

"Concerning the international sphere, Mr Jorgensen has through many years taken a very active part and he is very well known in many countries as a reputable man with excellent leadership qualities and an outstanding personality," added Larsen.

Oluf Jorgensen was honoured with a number of national prizes for his contribution to sport. He received the highest award from Danmarks Idræts-Forbund, the Danish Federation of Sport. At the annual meeting of the Danish Squash Association just a few weeks ago, where he retired as President, Oluf Jorgensen was appointed as the first honorary member of the association.

"With Oluf's death we lost a close friend and a forceful personality who liked to fight against any challenge. At this last challenge however - a malignant tumour - he had to acknowledge that he was not able to win," said Larsen. "This sad incident leaves a void to all involved in squash which of course is nothing compared to his wife and children who - regardless of his busy job - always had the highest priority.

"Oluf will always be in our hearts and memory. Right now our warmest thoughts are with his beloved family."

Joyce Buckley, Vice President of the World Squash Federation and a former President of the European Squash Federation, added: "Oluf was not only the man who put Odense on the world squash map but he was also never afraid to put his hand up to host international events - from European AGMs and meetings to events like last year's highly successful Women's World Team Championships. He was a great man and will be sorely missed by everyone involved in the sport."

England Squash has announced the appointment of Peter Hirst to the position of Performance Director. Hirst will take over the management of the successful World Class Performance Programme, working with the national coaches, support staff and sports science advisors in the development of England’s elite players and the preparation of teams and individuals for world championship events.

Hirst comes to the organisation with extensive coaching and sports science experience. A Yorkshire school boy, representative sprinter and keen footballer, he turned to table tennis after an injury and held the Yorkshire senior title. At 22 he became the youngest ever national coach in England, a position he held until he moved to New Zealand in 1985. After setting up the New Zealand coaching structure in table tennis he was invited to head the NZ equivalent of Sports Coach UK, ‘Coaching New Zealand.’

Under Hirst’s leadership, Coaching New Zealand gained a reputation for providing high quality training and resources for all coaches. He was a founding member of Sports Science New Zealand and ran the International Sports Science Conference annually.

On returning to England Hirst worked as Director of Coaching, Teaching and Training for English Table Tennis and also for Sport England as a World Class Advisor, performing evaluations of funded programmes such as the squash World Class Performance Programme. When the post of a squash Performance Director became available he applied immediately.

Hirst said. “I am delighted. While I have coached table tennis at an international level and spent my career on the marriage of coaching practice and sports science, playing squash has been my hobby and my passion. In the early eighties I played in the Cambridge league and represented Cambridgeshire in the Inter County competition and continued to play in New Zealand. I am passionate about the sport and it is fantastic to be involved.”

Chief Executive of England Squash Nick Rider said: “Squash is one of England’s most successful sports. We have just retained the men’s and women’s European Team Titles and we have a successful and high profile World Class programme. I am delighted to have secured someone of the experience, international renown and knowledge of Peter Hirst to fill this position and we welcome him to head our team.”

Hirst will be based in Cambridge and at the new National Squash Centre in Manchester. One of his early tasks will be to oversee the preparation of England teams for the Women’s World Junior Championships to be held in Cairo in August and the Men’s World Team Championships to be held in Vienna in October.

Ong Beng Hee, having launched his new website in Malaysia,  returns to London today, looking to buckle down in training to improve his performance and ranking, according to the following report from the Malay Mail.

IT will be a 13-hour flight to London for Ong Beng Hee tonight. Time enough to put things in perspective. Time enough to figure his slide down the world squash rankings and what to do about it.

If that's not quite enough time he will have an extra hour on the train to his training base in Chingford for decisions and revisions. The national No 1 squash player, a role model for thousands of youths in the country, is concerned about the decline in his performance over the past few months.

"I have not played well lately and I don't know why. It's important that I find the reason and improve on my performance. "It's more important than the ranking. After all, my performance has to improve before my ranking can." Beng Hee is ranked No 10 in the world – a disappointing comedown from his No 7 not too long ago.

The first step in his intended climb up the rankings will be some gruelling training under coach Neil Harvey when he gets to England. Beng Hee is also hoping for a chance to compete in the Super Series in London. Only the top eight players are eligible to compete and he is hoping there will be some withdrawals. If Beng Hee does not compete in the Super Series on May 8, he will play in the Qatar Masters and Spanish Open scheduled for later this month.

Beng Hee said owing to the risk of SARS he will concentrate on tournaments in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. "I need to play in as many tournaments as possible to get back to the top level. But for the next six months at least, I don't see myself competing in the other Asian countries." Beng Hee was looking forward to competing in Hong Kong but the tournament has been postponed due to the SARS epidemic there.

In February, Beng Hee failed to defend his Swedish Open title, losing in the first round. He, however, gained some consolation when he won the Bermuda Open, an invitational tournament, last March. Since returning home three weeks ago, Beng Hee has been training under national coach Jamshed Gul.

And Beng Hee is the first squash player in the country to launch his own website –  "I had the idea of having my own website for some time. I'm glad I have finally launched it.

"This will get me closer to my fans and people who want to know my progress." Last Thursday, Beng Hee conducted a one-day clinic for youngsters at the Astaka courts in Petaling Jaya. The Astaka courts hold fond memories for Beng Hee for it was there that he honed his skills as a junior player.

Beng Hee is only 23 but his junior days feel like a lifetime ago as his discipline and dedication have taken where no other Malaysian has been. Right now his mind is on places where he has been – the upper reaches of the world rankings.

The 2003 Cathay Pacific Squash Open has joined the long list of events to be cancelled because of the Sars outbreak, reports the South China Morning Post. Organisers yesterday decided not to wait any longer and cancelled Hong Kong's showpiece squash tournament which was to be played from August 24 to 31.

"It takes a lot of planning to get the event under way. Although they say Sars might have peaked in Hong Kong, we are still not sure what will happen," said Heather Deayton, executive director of Hong Kong Squash. "We took the decision to let it go this year. We will be back 100 per cent next year."

An official press release announced the tournament had been cancelled due to concerns of overseas players about coming to Hong Kong. The tournament has been held for the past 18 years, always under the sponsorship of Cathay Pacific. "The decision was jointly taken by the executive committee and the sponsors to cancel this year. It is a major disappointment, not only for us but I'm sure for the players too. They always look forward to playing in Hong Kong, but not this year," Deayton said.

England's Peter Nicol was set to defend his title this year. The world number one won his third title last year, defeating Jonathon Power in a hard-fought final. The cancellation follows a spate of other high-profile sporting events falling foul of Sars. Among them were the San Fernando Yacht race from Hong Kong to the Philippines, the Davis Cup tie between Hong Kong and Lebanon, the Soccer Sevens, the national football team's 2004 Olympic qualifying matches and Hong Kong rugby's 50th anniversary tour to Europe.

According to Deayton, the Hong Kong Closed Championship which was due to be held in May-June, has also been cancelled. This tournament, only for local players, might be held later in the year if the health problems clear up.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Sars. We don't know what will happen. There is no vaccine in sight. In light of all these issues, we took the decision to call everything off," she added.

Australia's five-times World Squash Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald added another trophy to her overflowing cabinet when she was presented with the Victorian Institute of Sport Award of Excellence for 2002 by the Governor of the State of Victoria, John Landy, MBE, in Melbourne today (Monday).

This is the second occasion that Sarah has won this prestigious award - an honour shared by only one other sports star, the 2000 Olympics 400m Gold Medallist Catherine Freeman. This award is made to the athlete who has achieved outstanding sporting results during the year, while adopting a balanced approach to sporting excellence and contributing to the promotion and development of their sport.

In a star-studded field, Sarah was selected ahead of World Champion backstroke swimmer Matt Welsh and the 2002 Olympic Gold Medallist women's freestyle skier Alisa Camplin.

Sarah, unable to be in Melbourne after the plane she had boarded at London Heathrow was rendered unserviceable when an airport vehicle backed into one of its engines, was overjoyed when she heard the news - and immediately emailed the following message of gratitude to the organisers:

"Firstly I wish to thank the VIS for this fantastic acknowledgment and recognition. There are amazing names of previous winners of this award and I am proud to be amongst them. I had an amazing year in 2002 and am very proud to receive this honour both personally and as a squash player. My professional touring career has come to an end so this award is even more special as it is a wonderful conclusion to a fun, long and wonderful career.
I want to congratulate the other finalists - Alisa and Matt for their outstanding achievements over the year also.

"I am truly disappointed that I am unable to be there tonight with you all at Governor House but circumstances out of my control prevented me receiving this award in person.
Sarah's own story of her attempt to pop home

"I wish to thank the VIS for their continued support in regards to personal setbacks in 91 and 99, their presence at my successes throughout my career, and a special thanks for acknowledgments like tonight.

"There are many people and groups to thank so I will try to brief: The players of the VIS squash unit led by Roger Flynn who constantly put themselves on the line as my training partners; the Victorian Squash Federation led by Paul Vear for their help, time, advice and support; my Physio Geoff Mackay for keeping me in one piece; and to my wonderful family and friends for their love and support whether it is from near or afar.

"My England base has been a major part of my success - trainer Mike Johnson for his amazing enthusiasm; the Reflex Club where I train; Jonah Barrington, Ken Way and of course my personal sponsors. My amazing successes in 2002 has been largely contributed to by my boyfriend Paul Walters. I couldn't have done it with out his guidance and enthusiasm.

"Thanks VIS. I will see you all soon. Good luck everyone and may you all have
a successful 2003."

Sarah's own story of her attempt to pop home

Cowley TV Star  29-Apr
England and Middlesex Vets representative Mark Cowley is to play before the biggest audience of his life on Thursday 1st May. He is to star in a BBC 1 documentary at 8pm called The Bailiffs.

Cowley, notorious for using his impounding, clamping, seizing and arresting skills on unsuspecting opponents on court is to  make an early morning call on a debtor who owes thousands of pounds in parking fines.  These skills will be on view on Thursday.

"Any aspiring player would be well advised to watch this programme to see a masterful and refined use of skills that many players only use incidentally or emotionally. Mark is a true professional and has maximised these skills and integrated them into a highly successful game. It is a fine study," said a keen observer.

Cowley is also renowned for having the knack of getting the best of the refereeing decisions. Many opponents believe that the threat that referees may leave the building to find their cars clamped is instrumental in giving him this edge.

Cowley was part of the winning Middlesex O45 team at the Inter County finals in March.

Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat was unanimously elected as President while Air Vice Marshal Raashid Kalim became the Senior Vice President of the Pakistan Squash Federation on Saturday, reports

The PSF held its extraordinary General Council meeting at Air Headquarters, Chaklala, to fill the two posts which had fallen vacant with the death of the then-incumbents in an air crash on February 20.  Late Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, who was then the President of PSF, and Air Vice Marshal Saleem A. Nawaz, the then-incumbent SVP of PSF, were both among those killed in the air crash tragedy.

Elections for the two vacant posts were the main two items on the agenda of the extraordinary General Council meeting. Vice President PSF, Qamar Zaman, initially presided over the meeting for the election of the new President PSF.He proposed the name of Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat for the new President and the house unanimously elected him for the office, according to an official version of the proceedings.

Similarly, election for one of the posts of Vice President, falling vacant with the death of AVM Saleem A. Nawaz, was also held and AVM Raashid Kalim was unanimously elected for this office. The newly-elected President of PSF, Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat, further promoted AVM Raashid Kalim as the Senior Vice President of the Federation, according to the details of the meeting.

"We will follow in the footsteps of ACM Mushaf Ali Mir for the promotion of squash", Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat said after taking over as the PSF President. "Every possible effort would be made to develop the game of squash at all levels", he said.

The house also lauded the patronage of ACM Mushaf Ali Mir during his tenure as PSF President."The untiring efforts and keen interest taken by the late President was highly appreciated by the house", according to minutes of the meeting.

Services of late AVM Saleem A. Nawaz as PSF SVP were also acknowledged.

Malaysia's top men squash player Ong Beng Hee has been hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). No, he is not down with the virus but the cancellation of many PSA tournaments because of the virus means he will lose out on his sponsorship, reports The Star from Malaysia.

The 23-year-old Beng Hee needs to compete in as many tournaments as possible to improve his rankings before he can benefit from the RM1million sponsorship deal he signed with the Dunlop Slazenger group last December.

The deal is for three years and he has to break into the top five bracket in the world to get a third of the sponsorship a year. If he fails to do so, he will only get a small portion. Beng Hee is currently ranked 10th and his big worry is that he is going to lose out financially.

“Many tournaments are postponed or cancelled because of the outbreak of SARS and this will definitely affect my world rankings. I need to play in tournaments to improve my ranking,” Beng Hee said after a meet-the-fans session at Mid-Valley shopping centre yesterday.

Among the PSA tournaments that have been put on hold due to the SARS outbreak are the prestigious British Open, Irish Open and Singapore Open. Beng Hee, who is based in London under world-renowned coach Neil Harvey, added that he needs the sponsorship money for training and for competing in tournaments all over the world.

“Training in London and going for overseas competition is not cheap. I need the sponsorship money to help me ease my financial burden.”

Beng Hee will return to London on May 1 and train for two weeks there before he takes part in the PSA Masters in Qatar from May 19-24. He also is the first reserve for the Super Series Finals, which will be held in London from May 12-15. The world's top eight ranked players will play in the tournament.
  Sports news from The Star

With the men's circuit desperately short of top-class events at present, some of the players are finding other, potentially lucrative, ways of keeping themselves sharp ...

Australians Joe Kneipp, the World No12, and Brett Martin, the former World No2, have teamed up to play the Kellner Cup Doubles tournament in New York, beginning on the 24th of April. The Kellner Cup is one of the biggest tournaments on the lucrative US hardball circuit, with prize money over $80,000. The PSA Masters in Qatar was scheduled to be on at the same time as the Kellner Cup, but was postponed until May due to the war in Iraq.

"I entered the hardball tournament just in case the PSA Masters was cancelled or postponed, which thankfully it was," said Kneipp. "Initially my partner for the doubles was John White, but he had to withdraw due to the European Team Championships and luckily Brett Martin was able to play with me."

Last year Kneipp made the semi finals of three PSA tournaments: the YMG Classic in Toronto, the Memorial US Open in Boston and the South African Challenge. He partnered Robyn Cooper to a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, but has never played in a hardball tournament.

"I have played some social games of hardball doubles and it is quite a different game. The ball moves so much faster and all of the angles are different. Playing touch shots like drop shots and soft boasts are much less effective in hardball. Hitting hard, low and deep is much more important, and if you can get a good hard boast, particularly a reverse boast it is impossible to retrieve," added Kneipp.

Kneipp's partner Brett Martin has been retired from the PSA World Tour for a number of years, but at his peak reached two in the world. He has been based in the USA where he works as a coach and has played a few doubles tournaments. The Kneipp/Martin team will have to qualify in the hope of making the main draw of the Kellner Cup.

"It has been well over a year since I had to qualify for a tournament," said Kneipp. "But Brett Martin spent so much of his squash career in the top ten, I wonder if he'll even remember what a qualifying tournament is all about! Our main goal is going to just be making the main round."

The Kellner Cup will be held at the Union Club, Racquet and Tennis Club, and Athletic Club in New York, with qualifying starting on the 24th of April.

Full details on the Mini Wall ...TAVISTOCK WINS THE WALL  17-Apr
From Tavistock Today

TAVISTOCK Squash Club has been presented with a Squash Factory Mini Wall after winning it in a competition held in the Squash Player magazine.

The mini wall has been officially endorsed by England Squash as a revolutionary new product for learning and practising the game outside a squash court, and was presented to the club by Emma Gibson of England Squash. The presentation took place at Tavistock Community Primary School in front of a group of children looking forward to having their first experience on the mini wall.

Emma, regional development officer for England Squash said: "The Squash Factory Mini Wall will take squash into the local community and significantly help to introduce new players to the game."

Leading grassroots sports agency Factory Eleven, in association with England Squash, has developed the Squash Factory Mini Wall. Peter Gray, director of Factory Eleven, said: "We are especially proud to be working with England Squash and for them to be utilising our Squash Factory concept to change the perception of the game and its accessibility for young players.

Full details about the Mini Wall

WSF unveils 2003 Development
& Coaching Conference
The World Squash Federation has announced details of the 6th World Squash Development & Coaching Conference, which will be held in Cairo, Egypt, from 19-22 August 2003.

The event, which boasts presentations from a number of the sport's leading figureheads including former world champion Jahangir Khan and his coach Rahmat Khan, will be staged during the Women's World Junior Championships in Egypt's capital city.

"The previous conferences in Netherlands, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brazil and Australia were judged by all delegates to be an outstanding success and a marvellous aid to the improvement of squash coaching and development techniques," said WSF Chief Executive Ted Wallbutton. "We hope that the 2003 Congress, in the historic and fascinating atmosphere of Cairo, will be even better, with its imaginative programme designed by the Egyptian Squash Association (ESA). The Conference will provide an excellent resource for advanced and elite coaches to share new techniques and cutting edge ideas," Wallbutton added. "The keynote speakers have been specially selected to challenge established ideas and give delegates a renewed vision and enthusiasm. This Conference will be a landmark in the life of any enthusiastic squash coach."

After a welcome from ESA President Mohamed El-Menshawy, the conference will be opened by WSF Vice-President Joyce Buckley and an introduction to the programme ahead will be given by Conference Director Sameh Hussain.

Presentations will include 'The application of Performance Analysis to elite level squash' by England Squash's World Class Performance Video Analyst Stafford Murray; 'Marketing for Sports Events' by Dr Taher Khalil of the ESA; and 'Coach Experience' by the Pakistan National Coach Rahmat Khan, former coach to Jahangir Khan.

Full details and Registration Form (pdf)

Carol Owens, the world No1 from New Zealand, will take time off from the international squash circuit to compete in both the men's and women's events in the 2003 Fiji Bitter Open in a bid to help promote squash on the Pacific Island.

The reigning world number one's participation follows the involvement of Australia's former world number Michelle Martin in the 2002 Fiji Open. The three-times former world champion came out of retirement to claim both the men's and women's titles.

Owens, the 2000 world champion from Auckland, will be joined by fellow New Zealanders Philippa Beams, Willie Bicknell and George Crosby in this year's event, which will be staged in Fiji Suva from 21-26 April.

"We are delighted that Carol and her compatriots have agreed to participate in our event," said Marco Puluiuvea, the Fiji Squash National Coach and Fiji Open Tournament Director.

"It will not only provide good exposure for squash here, but also great experience for my team in their preparation for the 2003 South Pacific Games in July," Puluiuvea added.  "We are most grateful to Dean Landy from Squash Australia and Wayne Werder and Susie Simcock from Squash New Zealand for their help in supporting my Squash development programme in Fiji."

Owens becomes the fourth world squash champion to appear in Fiji following visits some years ago by Pakistan's Jahangir Khan and New Zealander Susan Devoy.

Two of the biggest events on the international squash circuit have been postponed as a result of the conflict in Iraq. The PSA Masters and the women's WISPA World Grand Prix Finals, originally scheduled to be staged in Doha from 22-27 April, will now take place between 19-24 May.

"Due the current circumstances and the increasing tension in the area, the events will be postponed and played in May 2003," said Tournament Director Alaa Eldeen Allouba in a letter to the PSA and WISPA. "We have the approval of QNOC (Qatar National Olympic Committee) to the new dates."

PSA Executive Director Gawain Briars responded: "It is with regret that the Qatar Squash Federation and the PSA announce that the PSA Masters has been postponed.

"Although PSA has recently held a Circuit event in Qatar and the reports back from the players was that Qatar is a safe venue to participate in, the promoters and the PSA considered that with the increased importance and prestige of the PSA Masters coming into play, more players and their families would be nervous of travelling into the region during this difficult time of conflict to play in this high profile event.

"PSA is very grateful to the ongoing support of the QSF and the Qatar Olympic Committee in agreeing to postpone the PSA Masters, and we are sure that the event now booked for May will be as exciting and successful as it will now be anticipated," Briars concluded.

WISPA Director Andrew Shelley added: "We fully support the QSF decision to delay the event when thoughts in the region cannot be fully focused on squash, so the WISPA players look forward to returning to Doha a little later than planned."

The $120,000 PSA Masters is a Super Series Platinum event which attracts all of the world's top men, and the $62,000 WISPA Grand Prix Finals features the top eight women who have qualified through success in the WISPA World Tour Grand Prix events in 2002.

PSA Masters and WISPA Grand Prix Finals

Manchester's  Nick Taylor is heading into the war-torn Middle East in search of squash glory, reports the Manchester Evening News. And the intrepid world number 19 is taking his new Aussie pal Stewart Boswell with him.

Taylor and Boswell, who recently relocated to Monton, will take part in the Qatar Masters next month, despite the United States directing their offensive on Iraq from the country.

The duo have got to know each other since Boswell moved north looking for higher quality training partners and hooked up with Taylor for regular sessions at Village Hyde. Now they are ignoring security worries to head to Doha, home to America's Central Command, to take part in the PSA event.

Taylor, who is sponsored by the Manchester Evening News, took part in the tournament last year just as the Americans started their war on terror in nearby Afghanistan. He said: "We're obviously a little concerned about what's going on but we are professionals and feel we have to continue with our lives."

Boswell, who won silver and bronze in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester last year, added: "It might not be the safest place to go at the moment, but I've played in Pakistan where there is a border conflict so I don't have any worries."

Although the duo train together, Boswell has no plans to transfer his National League alliance from Edgbaston Priory to Taylor's team Manchester-Pontefract. Taylor said: "It's great that Bozzer has moved from Reading to Monton because we can help each other.

"The close proximity to SportsCity was a bearing as it is a world-class facility. Bozzer is a decent sort of guy because he's become a United fan even though he keeps going round telling every one 'G'day Blue'."

Original report from the MEN    Qatar Masters & WISPA GP Finals

The World Squash Federation today issued a statement slamming an article appearing in the latest issue of The Squash Player Magazine.

The article concerned was an interview by Richard Eaton with Robert Edwards, and the WSF have taken issue with Edwards' version of events in the controversial incident in last October's Qatar Classic where Edwards, as tournament director, instigated a change of referee during a match.

SquashPlayer will bring you comment on the matter from the parties involved, and the article that instigated the WSF's reaction, but, for now, here is the WSF's statement (pdf)

The WISPA AGM, held during the Texas Open, saw the election of a new President when world number two Natalie Pohrer was invited to take over the role following the retirement of Sarah Fitz-Gerald from the Tour.

Pohrer, 25, from St Louis in the USA, was delighted to take on the role on behalf of her fellow members: "Sarah has done a great job heading up WISPA," said Pohrer of Australia's record five-times world champion. "She is a great friend and competitor and I hope I can emulate her as an ambassador for women's squash. We have so many exciting things going on. Here in Dallas we are playing on our own WISPA squash court for example - standing still has never been part of our agenda. We plan to develop still further our relationships and our Tour generally and I look forward to fronting the WISPA engine room."

WISPA Director Andrew Shelley explained that a change was required: "Our rules require that our President must be a current playing member so Sarah couldn't continue. She has also decided that she would prefer to step down from the Board as she will not be at events where meetings are held.

"But she is still keen to be involved and I am pleased to confirm that the WISPA Board have invited Sarah to become a WISPA Patron, a position that she has accepted. She is a great asset and couldn't get away that easily!"

In addition to Fitz-Gerald, Melanie Jans (Canada) and Sue Wright (England) stood down and were replaced on the Board by the three nominees: Jenny Tranfield (England), Pamela Nimmo (Scotland) and Natalie Grinham (Australia).

"We have been fortunate to have a balanced Board in recent years and there is no doubt that the three new members will be valuable additions," Shelley added.

The full Board now is: Natalie Pohrer (President), Linda Charman (Chairman) (England), Natalie Grinham, Shabana Khan (USA) , Ingrid Lofdhal-Bentzer (co-opted) (England), Susan Morrison (USA) , Pamela Nimmo, Jenny Tranfield.

Despite the military conflict in Iraq, top international squash players are continuing to arrive in nearby Qatar to compete in the second event on the Qatar Squash Circuit which gets under way in the country's capital Doha on Monday.

Although some players have withdrawn from the event, following advice from their countries' foreign offices, top seeded Australian Mike Corren has no doubts about his participation, as he explained in yesterday's Grapevine.

Today he added: "I arrived in Doha this morning and everything seems OK. In fact, you would never know there was a war on unless you turned on the TV or opened a paper. All indications point to a good tournament," said the 29-year-old from Adelaide.

Ireland's John Rooney, the fifth seed based in Nottingham, is also confident about competing in Doha: "I discussed it with my Dad and he agreed that I
should definitely go," said the 23-year-old. "But I told him I'd murder him if I got killed!"

He added: "I've never been to Qatar before and I'm hoping it will be third time lucky - I didn't do myself justice on my other two overseas trips this year, to Malaysia and the USA."

Qatar boasts one of the few permanently-sited all-glass courts in the world and has staged a number of top international squash events in recent years, including the Men's World Open in December 1998 and the Qatar Classic which has been voted the players' favourite tournament.

Full Qatar Circuit details

Record five-times World Squash Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald achieved another milestone in her remarkable career when she won the 'Female Athlete of the Year' award for the second successive year at today's (Wednesday) The Sport Industry Australia Sport Awards in her hometown of Melbourne.

Fitz-Gerald shared the award with Olympic aerial skiing gold medallist Alisa Camplin. Lleyton Hewitt won the Male Athlete award and fellow tennis star Pat Rafter collected the 'Dawn Fraser Award'.

Twelve months ago Fitz-Gerald scooped both the 'Female Athlete Award' and the 'Dawn Fraser Award' in a stunning endorsement of the Aussie squash star's achievements on the world's sports stage.

"I'm overwhelmed by tonight's presentation," said a thrilled Fitz-Gerald. "It's incredible to win this prestigious award two years running, not just for me but also for squash."

After a sensational 2002 in which she won 12 Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA) World Tour titles, including the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in England and her record fifth world title, and extended her unbeaten record in all competition to over a year and a half, Fitz-Gerald announced her withdrawal from the women's tour last month.

Squash was also nominated in two other Sport Australia Awards - Roger Flynn as 'Coach of the Year' and the Australian Women's Squash Team, World Champions in 2002, as 'Team of the Year'.

Britain’s leading squash coach, Malcolm Willstrop, has suggested that Pakistan regards junior age limits as ‘optional’ and that this influenced the outcome of the World Junior Championships in India last year.

“World class players do not appear out of the clouds, however good the system,” he wrote in a letter published in The Squash Player magazine today. “Over-age players would certainly explain that.”

George Meiras, who was WSF Technical Director at the Championships, stated that the Pakistanis had not contravened the rules. “There was no evidence anywhere of anyone committing a crime,” he told The Squash Player. “Every single player had his passport checked by me personally and every single player was eligible according to the rules of the competition.”

Meiras stressed that the WSF kept a database of passport records going back several years to ensure that over-age players were never able to enter tournaments by using fake passports at a later date.

The Pakistan Squash Federation have been unavailable for comment.

Malcolm Willstrop's Letter

Beachill's ankle problems started in Antwerp ...BEACHILL OUT OF ACTION
Two-times British squash champion and England international Lee Beachill, from Pontefract in Yorkshire, will be out of action for at least eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his right ankle in Sheffield, England.

Beachill rushed back to England last week after being forced to retire in the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions in New York - his third successive withdrawal from a PSA World Tour event as a result of his ankle. His ankle problems started in December's World Open and continued in January's Dayton Open.

An MRI scan early in February had revealed a rupture in a tendon in the ankle, but the plucky 25-year-old was able to reach his third successive final of the British National Championships in Manchester, where he came close to extending his record two successive titles before being beaten in five close games by his Commonwealth Games Men's Doubles Gold medal-winning partner Peter Nicol, the world No1.

"I was hoping to have the operation later in the year, but the Tournament of Champions incident made me realise I needed to get it done straight away," said Beachill after the successful keyhole surgery repair of the tendon.

"I can't put any weight on it for at least two weeks, and will then only be able to walk gently for a period before getting back on court. My consultant says I might be out of action for up to three months, but I'm a quick healer and hope to be back sooner than that - my aim is the Super Series Finals in London in the middle of May, though I'm not ruling out being ready for the European Team Championships at the beginning of the month," added Beachill, who has qualified for the PSA Tour's Super Series Finals for the first time. He looks certain to miss the next major event, April's PSA Masters in Qatar.

Beachill is no stranger to setbacks. He was told he would never walk again, let alone play squash, after he broke his back in two places in a serious car accident in December 1997. Four months later, then ranked 127 in the world, he fought through six qualifying rounds to reach the main draw of the British Open.

England National Coach David Pearson commented: "It's good to know that Lee's operation has been successful and that this ankle weakness is now well-and-truly behind him. We will be selecting our team for the European Championships at the end of the month, and very much hope we will be able to include Lee in our line-up."

Exclusive by Matt Westcott, Royal Gazette, Bermuda
** UPDATE - Palmer recovering after op **

World squash champion David Palmer was last night set to undergo an operation at King Edward VII hospital after being diagnosed with appendicitis. The number three ranked player in the world was forced to pull out of the Logic Bermuda Open Squash tournament just hours before the event began last night after falling ill.

Palmer, from Australia but a Bermuda resident, was due to take on Island teenager James Stout in the first round at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association’s courts on Middle Road, Devonshire.

However, he underwent tests on Sunday night after complaining of feeling unwell and a further examination yesterday revealed the extent of his ailment.

Coach Shaun Moxham said last night: “He had blood tests and urine tests and they didn’t really pick up anything. He didn’t get better through the night and so he went to the doctor this morning (Monday) who said he could not feel anything but suggested he had an echo (scan). That was done yesterday and it (the problem) was seen. They said it’s not ruptured but it is a fair size and it’s got to come out tonight.”

Moxham said the player was disappointed, but there was not a lot he could do.

“It was his first time here and he was looking forward to playing the tournament,” he said. “It’s obviously not the start that he wanted to have in Bermuda, but on the other side of the coin these things can happen in sport. You are always susceptible to injury or illness . . . and last week, as much as he wanted to do well in Bermuda, was very important to his world ranking (beaten semi-finalist in Tournament of Champions, New York), so if it had to happen, better this week than last.”

Palmer’s next Professional Squash Association tournament is not until the end of April, but in between now and then he is pencilled in for a number of league commitments in France, Germany and Holland.

“He also had a couple of smaller exhibition matches and he had a promotional tournament similar to this one in Estonia,” Moxham said. “We will basically have to see in the next couple of days what he can and what he can’t go through with.”

The coach said much depended on what happened on the operating table.

“If it goes reasonably straightforward then I think he is looking at a two to three week break, but if he has any sort of complications it could be up to six weeks,” he said. “At this stage it looks like it should be straightforward because they have caught it on time.”

Moxham passed on Palmer’s apologies to those fans who had hoped to see him in action last night.  Logic Bermuda Open

WSF President Jahangir Khan has finally won his long-running court case against his former employers Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), who have been ordered to "set aside his retirement orders", with consequential benefits to be paid, reports Pakistan's The News International.

Jahangir was retired as a General Manager in November 2001 along with several other top officials including former world No. 1 Jansher Khan and Pakistan's former cricket captain Zaheer Abbas as a part of the austerity drive initiated by PIA under financial pressures. Jahangir was critical of the behaviour of PIA's top bosses saying that the decision to retire him was taken without even hearing his side of the story.

"I am naturally pleased with the decision though I personally feel that this case should not have gone this far," Jahangir told The News, adding that the PIA top management should have tackled the issue more amicably. "I think that by only hearing the verdicts of both sides, the top management of PIA can avoid such problems and also save millions of rupees of legal expenditure."

Despite reports that certain events at this summer's Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic may be cancelled due to construction delays, the staging of the Squash events will continue as planned, say the World Squash Federation.

"Luckily, squash will not be affected by the reported delays as the events will be staged at the established 'Body Shop' club in Santo Domingo," reports Ted Wallbutton, the WSF's Executive Director.

Squash was included for the first time in the Pan American Games in Argentina in 1995.  In the 1999 Games in Winnipeg, hosts Canada claimed all four Gold medals.  Graham Ryding and Melanie Jans secured gold in the individual events, and in the team championships Canada beat USA in the women's final and triumphed over Brazil in the men's.

The 2003 Pan American Games will take place in Santo Domingo from 10-17 August.
Official Games site

The world of squash is mourning the death of Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) President Mushaf Ali Mir, the Pakistan air force chief who has been killed in a plane crash in a remote north-western region of the country.

The Air Chief Marshall was travelling on the military plane with his wife and two daughters, as well as Air Vice Marshall Saleem Nawaz, who was Senior Vice-President of the PSF. All were lost in this tragedy.

Jahangir Khan, the legendary Pakistani player who is now President of the World Squash Federation (WSF), said: "Everyone connected with Pakistan and World Squash is stunned by this terrible tragedy, which involved not only two of our most prominent supporters but also Air Chief Marshall Mir's family.

"The Air Chief Marshall was President of the Pakistan Squash Federation and much of the recent revival in Pakistani Squash was directly attributable to his vision and that of the Senior Vice President Air Vice Marshall Nawaz. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the friends and relatives of these two wonderful and irreplaceable men."

It is understood that Air Marshall Syed Qaiser Hussain, who was the Pakistan delegate to the last two AGMs, will take over both as acting air force chief as well as President of the PSF. 
Full report from

Fitz-Gerald wins her second British OpenFITZ-GERALD QUITS WORLD TOUR  18-Feb
Fives times World Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald has announced that she is to withdraw from the WISPA World Tour, but plans to continue playing selected events such as National and Super League and World Team championships.

In an announcement on her website she declares:

"I have had a wonderful time playing on the World Tour since winning the World Junior title in 1987. I was fortunate to come back from surgery on my left knee in 1999 stronger than ever, and I have now achieved all the targets I set myself - including reclaiming my World title in my home town Melbourne, winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal for Australia in Manchester and winning over sixty professional titles including successive British Opens.

"I am very proud that the standards I have set myself have enabled me to remain unbeaten for over a year and a half - and winning a record fifth World title in Qatar in November was very satisfying," added Fitz-Gerald.

"Despite what people have been assuming since I won the World Championship in Qatar, I am determined that this should not be thought of as 'retirement'. Having now achieved my goals on the World Tour, I believe that the way forward, to improve as a player and hopefully raise the bar further for the promotion of women's squash, is to concentrate on other competitive activities outside of the Tour, which I plan to announce in the near future.

"I have returned to Europe to fulfil several exciting playing commitments and to work with my coach Mike Johnson, along with Jonah Barrington and Malcolm Willstrop who will continue to help and advise me," explained Fitz-Gerald.

"The past four years have been a very successful but hectic time, and the disciplines required to compete consistently on the World Tour have resulted in me having to decline many invitations in other areas of competition. Whilst still at my peak as a player, I believe that the time is now right to reassess my goals and pursue these other interests and challenges.

"League competition will continue to feature prominently in my schedule and I am looking forward to making history by representing Devon & Exeter in the 2003 British Super League - and so being the first woman to play in the UK's premier club competition," explained Fitz-Gerald.

"I have discussed my plans with Squash Australia and hope to continue to represent my country at future national team championships."  

Exclusive Grapevine interview with Sarah

but no sign of a 2003 event yet ...

England Squash Press Release 
England Squash, the country's governing body for the sport, announces today that it has entered into an agreement to license the rights to the British Open Squash Championships to a partnership formed by John Beddington of Beddington Sports Management Ltd and John Nimick of Event Engine, Inc.

The British Open has long been regarded as the sport's most prestigious championship, but inconsistent management and sponsorship woes have plagued the tournament in recent years.

The new license agreement covers a three year period commencing 2003 and includes an option period for a further three years.

Nick Rider, Chief Executive of England Squash, said: "The British Open has a long and distinguished history - it is intrinsically linked with the great names of the sport. This is the way forward - I am very excited by the prospect of this agreement with a partnership comprising two of the most experienced and successful practitioners in event management today."

The partnership of Beddington and Nimick brings together possibly the two most successful commercial squash promoters to have worked in the sport. Beddington, whose company is based in London, launched the PIA World Series of Squash - the first professionally-coordinated international squash circuit - in the 1970's, promoting the likes of Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt, Qamar Zaman and other then dominant champions; and organized the annual Canadian Open in Toronto throughout the 1980's and early 1990's.

Beddington's credentials in professional tennis are even more extensive and include management of the Grand Prix circuit in Europe and the Grand Prix Masters Championships; directorship of Tennis Canada's operations for 17 years, a period in which he elevated both the men's and women's Canadian Opens in Toronto and Montreal to Super 9 [Masters Series] and Tier I status respectively; and now promotion of the annual Honda Challenge at the Royal Albert Hall - the flagship event on the Champions Tour.

John Nimick at the World Open in Antwerp ...John Nimick is the only multi-event promoter of professional squash working in the sport today. His sports marketing firm based in Boston, USA, operates three of the current top ten world ranking men's events including the Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Terminal, New York (which also includes a top ten WISPA draw); the U.S. Open in Boston's Symphony Hall; and the Canadian Open in Toronto's BCE Place. Nimick started Event Engine in late 1999 after a seven-year stint managing the men's Professional Squash Association and its World Tour. Nimick has a long history in the sport having won two North American Open Squash Championships and reached a world hardball ranking of #2 in the 1980's while representing the United States twice internationally in the World Team Championships.

"John and I are delighted with England Squash's decision to offer us the opportunity to be involved with the British Open and we are confident that we can rebuild this wonderful championship. We have no magic up our sleeves, but we both have a deep passion for this great sport. We have created a long term agreement with England Squash precisely because we feel it may take several years before we can rebuild the tournament's value and generate the kind of sponsorship support that will allow the Open to regain the respect of the players and the international community," said Beddington.

Nimick added: "We are at work on a few scenarios for a potential presentation of the event in late 2003, but our priority is to set the right wheels in motion for the future so that each year builds successfully upon the last. We look forward to coordinating with both PSA and WISPA to ensure that both sets of professional players are kept informed of our progress and to listen to any ideas either association may have about the event in the
short term."

How was that, computer ???
How was that, computer ???

SCOTS squash star John White has a hi-tech wizard helping his bid to overhaul tartan defector Peter Nicol at the top of the world ranking list, reports Scotland's Sunday Mail.

The 29-year-old has a computer in his corner as he launches an all-out assault on the No.1 spot held by his countryman who now plays for England. White, who came within one point of being crowned world champion in Antwerp last December against Aussie star David Palmer, is using notational analysis, a system that pinpoint his strengths and weaknesses. And he believes it will give him the edge over rivals like Nicol in the hunt for the major titles this year.

White, currently No.4 in the world, explained: "I used the system for the first time when I won the Artemis Edinburgh Open last weekend and it was a real eye-opener. It showed me exactly where I was going right or wrong in each match and helped me work out how to prepare for the next round. The software is amazing and there's no doubt it will be a big help."

The system is operated by Kenny More of Elite Sports Analysis and was used by the Scottish Institute of Sport to help Rhona Martin's gold medal curling team prepare for last year's Olympics.

No video analysis in Antwerp, just live Belgian TV and internet scoreboard ...
No video analysis for Antwerp final, just live Belgian TV and Internet scoreboard

The institute have now arranged for More to work with White. He will analyse video recordings of the star's matches and break the court down into six sections. After each point Kenny enters how the point was won or lost, the type of shot used and which area of the court it happened in. He can then work out how White wins - or loses - the majority of points.

John said: "Using the system even for one match can make a difference. For instance, in the quarter-final against Paul Lord in Edinburgh the computer showed 50 per cent of my errors came on the backhand in the back of the court. I have always considered backhand my strongest shot but because the computer was able to show me the mistakes I made in that area it made me realise I had to think a bit more about what I was doing there. In the semi-final against Renan Lavigne the next day I had cut down the number of errors on that particular shot by 20 per cent."

The programme can also show White with which shot he hits the most winners and the most effective play in any situation. And it can also be used to analyse his rivals' style.

White said: "It might show Peter hits 70 per cent of his winners from the mid-court section on his backhand then I would know not to hit the ball there and to look for weaknesses in other areas of his game. Obviously this equipment is no substitute for hard work and practice but it
is a valuable tool."  
Full report from the Sunday Mail

Jansher Khan, one of the greatest squash players of all time, has confirmed that his comeback bid is over. In a letter received today by the Professional Squash Association (PSA), the  33-year-old record eight-times World Open champion and six-times British Open champion from Pakistan, wrote:

"As you know, I suffered with a back injury in the Chief of Air Staff  tournament in October. Due to that, my doctor has told me not to play squash. So, because of the pain, I will not take part in the game anymore.

"I wish that I could play again and flourish my country name on high," said the proud Pakistani and former world No1.

In thanking the PSA for renewing his membership last year after announcing  his surprise comeback, Jansher added: "If in the future the PSA needs me to help promote the game, I'll be happy to make myself available."

Plagued by back and knee injuries, Jansher retired from the sport shortly after claiming his 99th PSA Tour title at the Super Series Finals in London in March 1998. Following his comeback late last year, he competed in two PSA Tour events in his home country - in the first, raising local hopes when he beat the No2 seed and world top twenty player from Egypt, Omar Elborolossy, in the first round.

In an exclusive Grapevine interview by Ryan Barnett, published today, WSF president Jahangir Khan expressed his doubts over whether Jansher could stage a successful comeback - perhaps he knew something ... the Barnett Interview with Jahangir Khan

The Women's International Squash Players' Association is honouring Australia's Sarah Fitz-Gerald by inducting the five-times World Open champion into the WISPA Hall of Fame.

This further accolade in Fitz-Gerald's glittering career sees the sport's popular ambassador become the fifth member of a distinguished group of women squash players.

The 34-year-old from Melbourne capped her formidable career during 2002 when she won the Commonwealth Games title in her second successive appearance in the final. Later in the year she claimed a record fifth World Open title and led Australia to their seventh Women's World Team Championship success. Sarah's 12 titles in 2002, taking her career tally to 61, moved her into second place in the all-time WISPA Tour winners list, and extended her
unbeaten record since the summer of 2001.

"The WISPA Board don't know when she will stop competing on the Tour, but now that she has taken her foot off the playing pedal a little, it is entirely appropriate that she should join great champions Janet Shardlow, Heather McKay, Susan Devoy and Michelle Martin. Like them, she has been a true squash star," commented WISPA Director Andrew Shelley.

The WISPA Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to recognise the sport's most distinguished women players. The founding 'Hall of Fame' trio comprised Australia's Heather McKay, winner of an incredible sixteen British Open titles from 1962 to 1977; England's late Janet Shardlow, winner of ten consecutive British Open championships from 1950; and New Zealand's Dame Susan Devoy, also a ten-times British Open winner, who ruled women's squash from the mid-eighties into the early nineties. Michelle Martin, three-time World Open and six-times British Open champion, was added to the Hall in February 2000.


At a press conference today World no.1 squash player Peter Nicol announced the imminent arrival of a major new international sporting event in the city of Sheffield. In August 2003 the inaugural English Open Squash Championship will take place in the unusual setting of the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Representing his company, Eventis Sports Marketing Ltd, Nicol also announced that both Prince and the Sheffield Hilton hotel had signed up as sponsors of the now titled Prince English Open Squash Championships.

Nicol, the world's premier squash player for over 6 years outlined how the event would fit into the worlds squash calendar, kicking off the the 2003/4 season in style. Current British Open champion, Nicol described how the venue, its location Yorkshire and the backing of quality sponsors will all help to make first year a great success. 'We believe that these ingredients along with the overwhelming support that has already been evident from the squash community and the city of Sheffield will enable us to make this a permanent fixture on the squash scene.

The Crucible Theatre is primarily a producing theatre but is known worldwide as a sporting venue through it's hosting of the World Snooker Championships in May of each year. To date this has been the only sporting event held there but in August of this year that will change. An all glass court will be erected on the famous stage. With its unique two-way viewing film it allows spectators to watch through any of the four walls. This court and the lay-out of the theatre itself, with it's minimalist spacious design and unique thrust stage, lend itself to be a natural platform on which to showcase a major squash championship.

The Prince English Open will attract the very best players from all over the world to compete for the prize money and ranking points on offer. As a 4 Star event on the Professional Squash Association's World Tour, it will be one of the top 10 events in the world this year. This ensures a high quality field with the obvious guaranteed participation of World no.1 Nicol.

On introducing the two sponsor's Nicol said "both Prince and the Hilton are highly recognised international brands, synonymous with quality and we are delighted that they have made the decision to back this exciting venture." Prince, who were represented by Managing Director of Prince UK, Bob Johnson, at the launch will be the official title sponsor, while the Hilton Sheffield, represented by Martin Robinson, will be the official tournament hotel for event.

Johnson outlined Prince's commitment to the sport of squash and their belief in the team's ability to put on a truly world class event. "We have been involved in squash mainly through sponsorship of players, and have known this group for many years, so when they came to us with this vision of an event at the Crucible Theatre, we had little hesitation in pledging our support. It will be the first time that Prince has been involved as a title sponsor of a major squash event but we are confident that through Eventis' knowledge, experience and enthusiasm it will be a resounding success and one that can be built upon in future years."

Also at the press conference was Tim Garner, who, along with fellow director of Eventis Sports Marketing Ltd Angus Kirkland, will act as tournament director of the Prince English Open. Both have extensive experience in running squash events, with Kirkland a former tournament director of the US Open Squash Championships and Garner currently overseeing the British tournament circuit, the Prince Grand Prix.

Garner went on to explain the format of the event. "Yorkshire is the heartland of squash in the UK, so we felt it vital to keep the local clubs involved in the event. For this reason the qualifying will take place at Hallamshire and Abbeydale Squash Clubs giving access for squash enthusiasts in the area, before moving to the Crucible Theatre for the main rounds from 13th August, with the final taking place on Sunday 17th August."

Nicol was in Sheffield not only to launch the event with Garner, but also to take on local rising star Nick Matthew on his home courts at Hallamshire, once again allowing the people whose support is tantamount to the success of the event the opportunity to see the worlds best player in action.

Following their success in taking the World Junior Team Title in Chennai in December, and three British Junior Open titles last week, Pakistan is confident of more glory when the Asian Junior Squash Championships take place in Islamabad next month.

"We have a very strong and well-prepared team that should win both the men's individual and team event," Pakistan Squash Federation Secretary Sq Ldr Sajid Waheed told Pakistan's News International. Full report from The News

The three British Open winners, Safeer Khan, Yasir Butt and Amir Atlas have been awarded cash prizes of between 20,000 and 50,000 Rs. “We will continue to encourage those home players who would play an important part in bringing glory for the country”,  said Provincial Sports Minister, Naeem Ullah Khan Shahani in Lahore on Monday

After taking a break from the game following the sacking of her coach by the Malaysian SRA and her defeat in the final of the Asian Games, Nicol David is back in training and looking forward to returning to the world tour.

The Malay Mail reports: "She started training early this month but we will finalise her training programme by next week," said Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir. "At this stage, the most important thing is that she is ready to make a comeback after what happened last year," said Mokhzani. "We want to discuss with Nicol her plans before we know what's the best programme for her."

Nicol is coming back from a long-break after hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons between October and December last year. The former world junior champion failed to retain her gold medal in the Busan Asian Games after SRAM's decision to remove Richard Glanfield as Nicol's coach in Penang. The long-serving English coach will be heading home next month after he was shown the termination letter by the National Sports Council (NSC) two months ago.

Nicol had then made it clear that she wanted Glanfield to stay on as her coach. But SRAM and NSC said "No" and it led to Nicol laying down her racket for a while. SRAM and NSC did the right thing in removing Glanfield as he can't do much for Nicol due to his limited ability.

When asked whether SRAM will appoint a new foreign coach for Nicol, Mokhzani said: "As far as we are concerned, we never had any specific coach for Nicol all these years. Glanfield was attached to Penang and he was training the other players and not only Nicol. At this moment, we have no plans to hire any specific coach for her." Nicol's first tournament for this year is yet to be known.

SQUASH fans seeking the latest internet results about their favourite sport in Scotland were stunned when they logged on to X- rated porn instead, according to a report in Glasgow''s Sunday Mail.

The Mail continues: They expected news on star players and the latest league results but they got links to My Kinky Wife, Fetish Hotel and Grannies `n' Fatties. The official Scottish Squash website has been hijacked by a porn site with an almost identical website address. And the porn site was advertised by mistake in the Squash Player magazine.
Full report from the Sunday Mail

SquashPlayer would like to point out that we did not "advertise the link by mistake". SquashPlayer contains several links to Scottish Squash, all but one pointing to the 'correct' address, and the link in question had been on the site, functioning perfectly, for several years.

SquashPlayer maintained a dedicated website for Scottish Squash, free of charge, from 1998 until 2000. Then Scottish Squash decided to go with a venture company setting up sites for several sports federations in Scotland, using the .com address in question, which SquashPlayer kindly linked to. That venture failed, and Scottish Squash relaunched using the .org address, but clearly failed to secure control of the original domain name which was still linked to by that one link on SquashPlayer (which was changed immediately the hijack was pointed out to us).

SquashPlayer apologies to any readers caught up in the porn trap, but refutes any implication that we actively made a link to a porn site. The fault lies with Scottish Squash in failing to retain control of a domain name it was using for some time. We would suggest that Scottish Squash also chases up the Argentinean and Indian squash sites, Stirling Sports Council, and BASEM (British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine) who all feature links to the hijacked site.

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