is NOT the Weakest Link
Sue Rose made the last three
in a special National Champions Boxing Day edition of "the Weakest Link",
losing out to the Bog Snorkeller and Dog Groomer.
Jahangir turns his back on
KARACHI - One of the world's most acclaimed sportsmen,
squash legend Jahangir Khan, has decided to turn
his back on the country of his birth, Pakistan, which he says affords him
scant recognition, and is prepared instead to pander to military officers,
reports the Asia Times Online
Leilani in achilles op - out for a
New Zealand's world No2 squash player Leilani Joyce has
been airlifted back
to her home in Hamilton after apparently rupturing her Achilles tendon
a training session in Queensland, Australia, this week.
More on the Grapevine
Change in Racket market
Its all change in the racket markets. Prince UK
has taken over Head, the Pro Kennex boss has grabbed the Prince
distributorship and there are strong rumours that Slazenger has been sold
off to the giant JJB sports chain. Where this would leave Tim Henman and
Simon Parke if confirmed, and the Wimbledon ball come to that, is anyone's
guess - and for that matter the top brand in Cricket, No.2 brand in hockey
not to mention clothing or Golf.
It a bizarre upheaval, reminiscent of musical chairs. The former Benetton
man Jeremy Sherwood has relinquished the distributorship for one of the
top brands, Prince, and will now be promoting the Head brand (Head were
formerly distributed in the U.K. by the Newbury based company Sportsline.)
Sherwood has moved early and endeavoured to sign players to his new brand.
While Sherwood has teamed up with Head, Pro-Kennex boss Bob Johnson (who
originally started in the racket business with Dunlop and had a short
period with Prince before returning to Pro Kennex) has snapped up the
opportunity to take over the Prince Distributorship for the UK. "The
opportunity suddenly came up and I grabbed it with both hands," said
Johnson. "Prince is the the arguably the second or third largest racket
company in the world. It is a player's brand and we have good strong
players. Prince is a quality brand and I like the nice clean image. They
have innovative technology. They really created the modern squash racket
with the extender innovation and recently the power ring and now they have
really good indoor footwear as well".
Joining Johnson at Prince will be the former international contracts man
Andy Bunting who left the company several years ago after building up
Prince's stable of international professionals. "I'm delighted to be
back," said Bunting. "You never know what's going to happen. I took some
time to negotiate and think about it but I'm happy to be back working in
the sport and Iım looking forward to it." This time around Bunting will be
working with tennis and badminton as well as squash.
Prince, who once dominated the contracts market, still have Peter Nicol,
Cassie Campion and John White in the UK. Head
have ended up with a World No.1 in David Palmer. The Pro Kennex brand will
now be handled by Steve Jolly, formerly of Donnay and recently of Pro
In the racket rankings the top three companies are out on their own with
Wilson, who promote their rackets with their "technological" story
regarded as the No.1 in world wide sales, with Prince and Head vying for
While this major swap promises some interesting times, it is the Slazenger
situation that is the most compelling - and the most closely guarded
secret. It looks like Dunlop, who own the Slazenger brand and who were
taken over by their bankers earlier in the year, have opted to unload one
of the sport's most famous brand names for a quick injection of cash.
What's Your Racket ?
Laredo surveys the racket scene for 2001/02
Battle to Save Open 07-Dec
A behind the scenes sponsorship battle is
being waged to raise the necessary revenue to stage the British Open.
Already significant funds are said to be in place. At this stage it looks
like and Open could be funded by a consortium of interests and sponsors,
some of whom are in place, with still others looked for to join the group
and perhaps fund individual events held under the British Open umbrella.
"This event is the great tradition of squash. Being involved in it is
being involved in squash history. There is a will being shown by many
people who love this to put it on," said England Squash President Mike
Corby. "There will be sponsorship opportunities at different levels
available to be announced very soon. "
"We are looking at putting it on at Lambs and the new National Centre in
Manchester. The Open will be a build-up to the Commonwealth Games were
there will be the chance to win medals for your country it is something
that should excite all English patriots."
Details on the sponsorship package are expected to be finalised soon and
their availability will be announced on SquashPlayer.
Also see British Open
WHITE'S COMMONWEALTH APPEAL
World number four John White will not be allowed to compete for
Scotland in next year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
The Commonwealth Games Federation insist that the 28-year-old does
not fit the criteria required for competing for Scotland, despite the fact
that he has played for the country since 1999 and in world
on the grapevine
MARTIN JOINS AUSSIE
SPORTS HALL OF FAME 06-Dec
Twice U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter has been officially recognised
as Australia's most inspiring athlete during 2001.
The Wimbledon finalist received the annual "Don" award at
Thursday's Australian Sports Hall of Fame dinner.
The award is named after Australia's cricketing legend, the late
Sir Donald Bradman, and recognises athletes who set an example both on and
off the playing field.
Previous winners of the award include runner Cathy Freeman, swimmer Ian
Thorpe, cricketer Mark Taylor and marathon runner Heather Turland.
Golfer Bruce Crampton, equestrian rider Phillip Dutton, rower Nick
Green, Australian Rules footballer Peter Hudson and squash player
Michelle Martin were named as this year's five new inductees into the
Hall of Fame. Martin joins Heather McKay in the
Hall of Fame details
British Open Crisis
Plans for the British Open are in chaos. With the collapse
of the England Squash relationship with its
rights holder the Fablon Group alternatives are
desperately being thrown together but have become bogged down in
indecision, competing interests,
and time constraints.
Compounding the staging problems are a financial crisis at
England Squash (SRA) and a leadership vacuum
following the departure of the Chief Executive
One bright spot for the association is that the completion
of the new National Squash Centre in Manchester
as part of the Commonwealth Games facilities
provides an alternative venue to the NIA in Birmingham. The
centre is due to be completed on February 11th,
and holding the British Open there as a 'test event' for the Commonwealth
Games could attract some addition funding.
One proposal for the British Open is that the early rounds of the event be
staged at Lambs Club in London and then the event move to
Manchester for the quarter-finals onward. The
Open, formerly scheduled for early April, has
now been booked in with the PSA from 11-19 April
but this would preclude weekend audiences and
these dates can be expected to be revised.
At this stage funding for the event is not in place although England
Squash President Mike Corby is said to be behind
moves to make sure the event goes ahead. Corby
underwrote the 1998 event of which the early rounds were staged
at Lambs and the later round at the NIA.
The staging of full age group events, and of a full womenıs event is not
assured at this stage. It is possible
that the Word Doubles Championships, due to be
hosted by the SRA in April,
will now become an invitation event and held
immediately afterwards, given the availability of top players immediately
after the conclusion of the Open.
Squash Day launched 22-Nov
One of the biggest initiatives to promote the game of squash is
taking place in January.
World Squash Day has been scheduled for January 12th 2002, with a special
launch day in London the day before. Lambs Squash Club, situated in the
heart of London's financial district, will play host to an eight-man
professional invitation tournament, headed by world champion Peter Nicol,
and a special challenge match between teams from London and New York.
Nicol, 28, has agreed to be the figurehead of World Squash Day and said:
"I have had a great time playing professional squash and I am happy to be
putting something back into the game."
World Squash Day, endorsed by the World Squash Federation and other
governing bodies, will feature a host of promotional activities in
thousands of clubs around the globe, with the emphasis being on attracting
new players to the sport, particularly women.
The England-New York Challenge will be dedicated to the memory of former
Scottish junior international Derek Sword. The US Ambassador has been
invited to launch World Squash day alongside Nicol and England Squash
President Mike Corby, owner of Lambs Club and a vice-president of the
World Squash Federation. The teams will compete for the Derek Sword Trophy
and the challenge is scheduled to become an annual event, alternating
between London and New York.
World Squash Day is being organised by three squash enthusiasts,
journalist and TV commentator Alan Thatcher, management consultant Laurie
Maclachlan, a former Scottish junior international, and Steve Cubbins, who
has constructed the
www.worldsquashday.org website, from which the entire global
operation will be directed.
Fablon Crisis - chairman
accused in financial investigation 20-Nov
Fablon Chairman Graham Gutteridge has been accused of
wrong doing and misappropriating company assets following an investigation
into the company accounts.
LIVE FROM TORONTO 15-Nov
PROFESSIONAL squash achieves a major breakthrough next week with
live broadcasts on every match from the
YMG Classic in Toronto.
The widely acclaimed Canadian TV producer and film-maker Jean De
Lierre is masterminding the live webcast
commentaries from Alan Thatcher
from the event at the Allen Lambert
Galleria in Toronto.
English sports journalist Alan Thatcher is flying over from London
to head up the commentary team, with expert analysis being provided
by the players themselves. Thatcher, a squash
coach, author and event promoter, has worked
with De Lierre before. They linked up at the 2000 Super Series Finals
in London, when Nicol's 3-2 final win over Simon Parke was rated as
one of the most breathtaking and entertaining
squash matches ever filmed.
Thatcher has also been the lead commentator in Sky TV's
ground-breaking live broadcasts from the last two British Open
Championships from the National Indoor Arena in
De Lierre said: "I am delighted to have this opportunity to take the
game to a wider audience via a live webcast commentary. Our
ultimate aim is obviously to have live pictures
beamed around the world from major tournaments,
but this is a vital stepping stone in that process.
"I am grateful to John Nimick, the YMG tournament promoter, and the
Professional Squash Association (PSA) for the opportunity to take
the game one step closer to full live webcasts.
I am pleased that Alan is coming over to lead
the commentary team. He knows the game inside out, he knows all the
players, and injects humour as well as a deep squash knowledge into
Thatcher said: "I am honoured to be working with Jean again and
especially at a time when squash has proved that it CAN make great
television. This first live broadcast on the internet represents
another major step forward for the game and I am
looking forward to helping Jean and promoter
John Nimick make the enterprise a big success."
"As the Tournament Director, I am thrilled that the YMG Capital Classic
has the opportunity to be the first-ever audio webcast squash event,"
said John Nimick. "The coverage offered
by Jean De Lierre is certain to stamp our event as one of the most
progressive and pioneering on the PSA World Tour. It is a fitting
development for Canada's only major squash championship."
The commentaries will be broadcast on De Lierre's own website
but can also be accessed via SquashPlayer,
together with full editorial tournament
De Lierre added: "The Internet's bandwidth having its limitations, the
signal output only being as strong as its weakest link, the audio
streaming may be more difficult for some to access than for others. In
fact, there are still a few unknowns in regard to the web server's
capacity to handle the intercontinental traffic load. Extensive testing
will continue until the start of the event's first match on Sunday Nov.
18th , which features World number 1 David Palmer against one of England's
best, Paul Johnson."
Full YMG Classic
coverage Grapevine packs the anti-moose cream
WORLD OPEN RESCUE BID - HOAX
A widely-circulated email, purporting to be an offer to salvage
the recently-postponed Men's World Open Championship, has been declared a
"The first I knew about this email, which appeared to come from the Indian
National Coach, Cyrus Poncha, was when I received a response from PSA
Executive Director Gawain Briars asking for further details," said Mr N
Ramachandran, President of the Asian Squash Federation, from Chennai in
India. "I immediately contacted Ted Wallbutton, Chief Executive of the
World Squash Federation
"This is clearly the latest in a series of hoax emails which have emanated
from India in recent months. The 'yahoo' address which was used is not the
official one of Cyrus Poncha and if I had intended to make such an offer I
would have made it personally and not delegated the task to my Head
Coach," Ramachandran added.
Gawain Briars added: "In this difficult period for the world in general,
leave alone international sports like ours, it is extremely regrettable
that there are hoaxters around who are prepared to be so disruptive."
on the Grapevine
WISPA AND FABLON BREAK UP 08-Nov
Just one year into their eight year, $10m agreement, WISPA and Fablon
have gone their separate ways. This follows the failure of Fablon to come
up with the prize fund for the Women's World Open, forcing WISPA to fund
the event from other sources at the last minute.
The latest issue of WISPA's newsletter thanks Fablon
for their support over the course of several major events, but stated that
WISPA "no longer feel confident that they could find staging and promoting
partners within the sport due to commitments not resolved."
Wispa & Fablon sign
up - Oct 2000 - More on the saga
on the Grapevine
Grantham returns to BSPA circuit 08-Nov
The today announced
the return of the Grantham Open to the British squash calendar. Joining
the Prince Grand Prix in February, it promises to be the biggest
tournament ever on the BSPA circuit. The Men's event is to have a prize
fund of £5000 (with the winner picking up £1000), while the Women will
battle it out for £2000 (a top prize of £500). BSPA's Tim Garner commented
"it is fantastic to have the Grantham Open back on after an absence of a
couple of years. We are pleased to welcome them to our circuit. Ron Moules
and his team have done a fabulous job in raising a prize fund that is sure
to attract a top class entry."' The tournament slips into the circuit just
prior to the Nationals in Manchester and so will provide a good guide as
to the form of the players as they approach one of England Squash's
Full BSPA coverage
Procam International announced today in Mumbai that the PSA
2001 World Open Squash Championship will no longer take place in India in
December as planned.
"It is with great regret that we have had to reach this decision, due to
the political and security ramifications of the war in Afghanistan," said
a spokesman for promoters Procam. Alternative
arrangements are being discussed with the Professional Squash Association
with a view to promoting the event either at another venue or at a
postponed time in India.
PSA Executive Director Gawain Briars added: "The PSA World Open has become
another sporting casualty of the war against terrorism and both Procam
International and the PSA will pursue all avenues in their ability to
retrieve the prestigious event for the players and our loyal fans around
the world. Further information will be provided as soon as possible."
World Open Crisis
- Announcement Due
A crucial announcement on the Men's World Open, due to be staged in India
at the beginning of December, is expected today - with "cancelled" the
main probability. The final decision will follow a long period of
uncertainty with sponsorship, venue and political questions unresolved.
Following the cancellation of the WSF Men's World Championships in
Melbourne PSA officials were desperate to stage an event,
and this has lead to the delaying of any
The only one likely to come out of the episode
with a smile on his face is Peter Nicol who won the world title at the Al
Ahram World Open in 1999 and is still the reigning World Champion. Nicol
won the title after the 1998 champion Jonathon Power had withdrawn due to
injury in the semi-finals against Ahmed Barada following a spectacular
crash on court. Since that victory three Women's World Champions have been
Plans to reschedule the event could well run into 2002, where there is a
long standing arrangement to hold the World Open in Belgium as part of the
700 years Flanders celebrations. That is an event that will not be able to
Players have already travelled from Australia and North America to prepare
for the World Open with the qualifying tournament due to take place in
Cardiff on the 17-18 November. Cancellation, if confirmed, will result is
much player dissatisfaction.
This World Open in India was to be the first of a five year rights deal
guaranteeing a $1 million dollar prize fund. Cancellation would throw
up all sort of uncertainties on the status of the deal.
World Open is "ON" - WISPA celebrate record prizes
Executive Director Gawain Briars, has issued a statement regarding
the state of the World Open scheduled for India in December. Briars said:
"Mumbai is still on subject to "war" difficulties which is now dominating
the policy of almost every sport. PSA is holding a review of the matter at
the end of this month with the promoters with a view to issuing the best
advice we can in the prevailing circumstances."
Hopefully that should lead to a definitive statement very soon.
Meanwhile, WISPA today issued a statement
celebrating a record prize fund for 2001:
The WISPA World Tour has burst beyond an annual prize-fund
figure of $750,000. The record $753,000
prize-fund for 2001 represents a 15% increase on the total for 2000.
"The continued WISPA Tour growth is simple to explain," said WISPA
Director Andrew Shelley: "Our players are our
greatest asset. Once they are taken on board, they are inevitably invited
back. "We are three quarters of the way to our next target!" Shelley
WISPA RESCUE WORLD OPEN WITH LAST-MINUTE FUNDRAISING
After the late withdrawal of their backer, WISPA
have managed to secure $61,000 from various
sources to ensure that the Women's World Open Squash Championship proceeds
as a centrepiece of the Melbourne International Squash Festival this week
WISPA Director Andrew Shelley confirmed that the body had pulled out all
the stops to maintain the high prize fund - and without using any of
WISPA's own funds.
"We were fortunate to secure some great backing from various sources in
the last couple of weeks because we couldn't even begin to support it from
our own resources," said Shelley in Melbourne. "The Festival organisers
have been hammered by the withdrawal of the underwriters, but with a
fully-funded Women's World Open and Men's Team Championship to follow, the
Festival will be able to follow Masters week."
on the grapevine
WORLD CHALLENGE PRIZE BOOST
There will be a top
prize of six thousand Aussie dollars from an enhanced prize fund of
at least 30,000
dollars for the forthcoming WSF World Challenge
in Melbourne, the event which is replacing the
cancelled WSF Men's World Championship.
PSA entrants have been notified that, following the close of entries
at 12 noon on October 12th, the draw will be made to accommodate a
maximum of 64 players. If a 64 draw is achieved,
the top 16 PSA players will be seeded into the
second round. If the draw size is 32 the top eight PSA
players will be seeded into the second round.
The top 16 players all receive prize money, which is an improvement
on earlier plans to pay only the last four. The prize money
breakdown is as follows (in Australian dollars)
with the winner receiving $6,000; Runner up
$4,200; Third-fourth $2,700; Five to eight $1,800; nine to 16 $900.
The welcome from Festival Director Paul Vear says: "On behalf of the
Victorian Squash Federation and Melbourne 2001 International Squash
Festival Board we welcome you to Melbourne.
Although we all have encountered some extreme
difficulties in recent times, we hope your stay
in Melbourne is a memorable one for all the right reasons.
BECOMES LATEST SQUASH CASUALTY
The Pakistan Open Squash Championship, due to be staged in Lahore
next month, has been postponed until next year due to 'the prevailing
conditions' in the region. The PSA Tour 'Super
Series Silver' event has become the latest squash event to be affected by
September's terrorist atrocities in the USA, following the cancellations
of the US Open in Boston last month, and the WSF Men's World Individual
Championship in Melbourne this month.
"As you are aware it is warlike situation in the world - the security
conditions have deteriorated in the region," said Squadron Leader M Sajid
Waheed, Honorary Secretary of the Pakistan Squash Federation. "Although
all the arrangements were in hand to hold the Pakistan Open 2001 in time,
but with the prevailing conditions, it is impossible for us to conduct
this event this year."
It s hoped that the Pakistan Open will now be re-staged early in 2002.
The US Open, which was postponed mid-tournament in the wake of the
September 11 attacks, has been rescheduled for 06-09 January, at the
Boston Sheraton Hotel.
WSF MEN'S WORLD
CHAMPIONSHIP CANCELLED 05-Oct
a shock move the WSF Mens World Championships, a centrepiece of the
Melbourne Squash Festival, due to start on the 15th October, has been
cancelled, following players' rejection of a proposal
of a reduced prize fund. The Festival, with its three other world
championships events is expected to go ahead, and a last minute stop gap
mens event is to be staged.
story from Ian McKenzie plus ...
Eye Group supports Melbourne, says
Following cancellation of the WSF Men's World Championship in
Melbourne, the Eye Group have issued the following statement about their
involvement in the Melbourne festival and their commitment to squash.
Statement from the Eye Group
SQUASH EVENTS CONTINUE TO
Squash events around the world continue to be
postponed due to the terrorist crisis, with the 2nd West Asian Games,
due for 20-30 Oct in Kuwait joining the US Open and the South
Asian Games on the pending list. The Qatar Classic and Pakistan Open
are still on, pending developments.
"In view of the current circumstances in the
region, and in the interest of holding a
successful Games, the Organizing Committee of the
2nd West Asian Games decided to postpone the Games which was
scheduled to be held in the State of Kuwait during the period from 20th to
30th October 2001 to a future date of which will be notified after holding
the extraordinary General Assembly of the West Asian Federation which will
be convened shortly".
National League gears up for
The National League season 2001 2002 gets underway on 9 October with
England Squash still looking for a league sponsor. There are some exciting
ties in prospect.
It looks another season likely to go right down to the wire with much
depending on player availability due to clashes with major PSA/WISPA
events, particularly in the first half of the season.
Full preview and details
Prince confirm BSPA sponsorship
for 2001/02 20-Sep
The British Squash Professionals
Association (BSPA) is pleased to announce that Prince will be continuing
with their sponsorship of the British circuit. The 3rd year of the Prince
Grand Prix will once again boast a minimum of 8 venues around the nation
and will culminate, as it did last year, in the Prince Grand Prix Finals.
Starting in Aberdeen in November it will once again offer Britain's
professional players the opportunity to earn money and gain competitive
experience without incurring large travel costs. "The original deal with
Prince was for two years, so we are delighted that they have realised the
benefit of their association with our circuit and look forward to building
on it's success this year" said Tim Garner, BSPA Board Member.
Full BSPA details and dates
US OPEN POSTPONED AT ELEVENTH HOUR
With just minutes to go before the tournament was due to get
underway, organisers of the US Open Squash Championships, at the Symphony Hall
in Boston, took the decision to postpone the event (from Sept 13-16) until
later in the year. Full
turns his back on squash
ALAN THATCHER 30-Aug
AHMED BARADA has retired from the professional circuit,
according to reports emerging today from Egypt.
The former world number three has struggled to regain fitness in
recent months and withdrew from the Halifax-Equitable Super Series
finals in London, then pulled out during the
first game of his comeback match against Alex
Gough in the Scottish Open in Perth.
Barada's decision comes a week before the 2001 Al Ahram tournament,
where the Egyptian superstar is always feted by loud, partisan
crowds. Last year he lost 3-1 in the Al Ahram
final to Peter Nicol in the spectacular
open-air amphitheatre at the foot of the Great Pyramids, where
Barada had reached the World Open final the
previous year. On that occasion he lost to Nicol
in straight games.
Barada, 24, was the victim of an horrific stabbing outside his home
in Cairo early last year. He was attacked by a mystery assailant as
he parked his car outside his home after
attending a party. No-one has been arrested for
Barada recuperated in Switzerland and then back home in Egypt. He
was left with two massive scars that showed how close to his spine
the knife penetrated.
He returned to the circuit in the 2000 Super series but clearly his
heart was no longer in the game. He claimed to be suffering from a
loss of confidence as a result of the stabbing,
and more recently he was reported to be getting
engaged and pursuing a career in the movies.
Barada favoured a hard-hitting, attacking style, and beat both Nicol
and Jonathon Power on his way to winning the 1999 Heliopolis Open
in Cairo. However, he was rarely as successful
outside Egypt as he was when competing on home
His retirement is hardly a shock. He had put on weight during his
absence from the game, and was clearly finding it difficult to
summon up the motivation necessary to regain his
The Cairo crowd will need to find a
new hero for the
International, which gets under way in Cairo on 5th September.
The original Barada stabbing reports,
from Alan Thatcher
BACK IN ACTION 30-Aug
Tania Bailey ponders a six-month lay-off with a knee injury
which forced her to pull out of last week's Hong Kong Open at the
quarter-final stage, England ladies
captain Linda Charman-Smith is celebrating the all-clear to resume
training after suffering from a calf strain throughout the summer.
The Sussex player, who led England to triumph in the World Team
Championships against Australia last year, had a scan in London
today (Thu 30th) and
said: "It's great news. I have just come from the specialist
and after the scan I was told that the calf has healed. Thank God!
I will not be able to play again until I get the
strength back to normal in the muscle, so I'm
looking forward to doing weights for now. But at least I can
train and look forward to getting back into action before
CHAMP OWENS QUITS
THE AUSSIES FOR KIWIS
By ALAN THATCHER and STEVE CUBBINS
WORLD champion Carol Owens has finally confirmed the worst-kept rumour
in squash by deciding to turn her back on Australia and represent New
Owens will qualify to play for the Kiwis in next year's Commonwealth Games
in Manchester and the World Team Championships scheduled later in
the year for Denmark. A top pairing of Owens and Leilani Joyce is bound to
make the New Zealanders the top seeded
nation in the latter tournament.
Owns, aged 30, is sure to receive a hostile reception in some quarters
when she defends her Women's World Open title in her home city of
Melbourne later this year. There is no love lost
between Owens and fellow Australian Sarah
Fitz-Gerald, the new British Open champion who also grew up in Melbourne.
Owens, who won the World title in Edinburgh last November, waited until
celebrating that particular achievement to unload a lot of emotional
baggage harking back to her teenage years, when
she claimed that Sarah's mother, who coached
both girls, had claimed that Carol would "never make it".
She fell out with the Australian authorities over their selection policy,
and to Fitz-Gerald's annoyance, refused to play for the team in Sheffield
in December, when her presence would surely have
swung the World Team Championship final in
Australia's favour against an England side lacking the
injured Cassie Campion. As it was, England triumphed 2-1.
Owens has been living in Auckland for three years and her game has
improved significantly since linking up there with former England national
coach Paul Wright. Owen confirmed: "I am now
preparing to change allegiance and I will be
eligible to represent New Zealand in September of this year, but as there
is no Women's World Team Championship this year it won't be until
next year before I play for my new country.
"We normally compete as individuals in most tournaments. The Commonwealth
Games is different, though."
Owens, ranked two in the world behind her new Kiwi team-mate
Joyce, has become the latest high-profile player to change allegiance -
indeed the latest world champion - following
men's world number one Peter Nicol's decision to change international
allegiance from Scotland to England.
Nicol lived in London for ten years before making the switch, while Owens
has been a New Zealand resident for three years - the minimum required to
earn national representation.
Owens told the South China Morning Post before this week's Cathay Pacific
Hong kong Open: "The last time I represented Australia it was the last
Commonwealth Games in 1998. I made the decision to represent New
Zealand because I was training and competing
well there and everybody was supportive of me," said Owens, who will
defend her World Open title in Melbourne in
October. I just received a grant from the New Zealand Sports Foundation
and they have been very supportive."
Owens meets Malaysia's world junior champion Nicol David in the first
round in Hong Kong.
Owens receives the
World Championship trophy
from WSF President Susie Simcock, a New Zealander
COURTNEY RESIGNS FROM SRA 08-Aug
a shock move Stuart Courtney, the Chief Executive of the SRA (England
Squash) has resigned. Courtney has led the association through a
difficult period for several years and follows a number of the
association's heads who have had short
periods of tenure. He will leave the association on 31st August.
His imminent departure came as a shock to staff. It hurts.There have
been a lot of improvements especially on the international side. He
has done a fantastic job for the organisation, said a senior member
Courtney, a former leading player and Englands most successful squash
manager was seen by many as a modernising influence with a robust
management style. He termed the departure disappointing and perhaps
had the feeling that he was not receiving the support at board level
that he should have. Courtney commuted from Surrey to Manchester to
fulfil his office based duties and this is said to have put added
strain on his role.
It was becoming difficult. It got silly. People were not supportive.
A lot of people didnt see the bigger picture. I have had a lot of
support from John Treharne and working with the counties was great,
said Courtney to The Squash Player.
The England Squash chairman John Treharne
praised the Chief Executives role : Stuarts contribution has been
considerable. He has improved the perception of the SRA in counties
and clubs. In the past there has been the criticism that there has not
been enough presence. He has spent an inordinate amount of time
visiting counties and clubs and turned this perception around. He has
also been extremely helpful in appointing a regional development
There have been difficulties in recent years securing sponsorship for
the British Open and in keeping events on and he has managed this very
well. One of his other big contributions was in extracting the
association from the Acton headquarters,
relocating it to Manchester and eventually to the new centre for the
The association has been plagued by declining membership and revenue
and the still faces the perennial problem of funding high profile
international events. It thought it had found a saviour
for these events in Fablon/Eye Group, the
sports rights acquisition group that has obtained rights to the SRA
events, but this relationship has proved a fraught one that has all
but broken down. Although the group has sponsored three British Opens,
the revenue coming to the association form the rights sale of the
SRAs events has not been forthcoming in full and this has put
considerable pressure on the finances of the association.
Courtney wanted to see a more modern SRA and perhaps he was at
loggerheads with the traditionalists. As England manager he was opened
up to more international influences and was behind the name change of
the traditional body to that of England Squash.
Following his departure the associations chairman John Treharne will
take on a more hands on role.
We will take stock of the situation and we will advertise the
position at a suitable juncture. We could look to replace Stuart over
the next 3-6 months, said Treharne.
from Chairman John Treharne
Stuart Courtney has resigned his position as Chief Executive
of England Squash and his last day in post will be the 31st August
2001. John Treharne, Chair of the Association, paid tribute to Stuart
During his time in office, he has worked hard at fostering better
relationships between the governing body and our affiliated clubs,
counties and individual members and was also responsible for bringing
major sponsorship into the British Open, an enjoyable but difficult
task. He has worked hard at the introduction of a new membership
scheme, a scheme that has to succeed in order for England Squash to
gain a far more solid financial base and one that will start to roll
out during the next few months.
Stuart should also be remembered for his role in the nineties as
manager of very successful England teams, a role that I know he got
enormous amounts of joy from. I also know that he will be sad at
missing Englands involvement in the 2002 Commonwealth Games and at
seeing the Association move into its new headquarters next year, at
the National Squash Centre in Manchester.
I hope you will join me in wishing him all the very best wherever his
future career takes him.
KONG THONG 30-Jul
THE lucky winner of the
Internet auction for Vicky Botwright's thong will receive his
prize in person from the world No.18 glamour girl.
The top bidder, Reuben Woo, lives in Hong Kong, and Vicky's
next tournament appearance happens to be the Cathay
Pacific Hong Kong Open in three weeks' time.
Woo's top bid was £305, which went into the kitty to raise more than
£5,000 from two weekend exhibitions in Newcastle featuring Vicky and
world champion Peter Nicol.
Vicky said: "We decided to auction
off the thong to raise money for John Dale, a fellow professional
squash player who has been in Newcastle General Hospital suffering
from a brain tumour, so I was delighted that we were able to raise so
much money for a good cause.
"I will be pleased to hand over the thong in person in Hong
FIRST WORLD CHAMPION CHALLENGE
Three times World Champion
Sarah Fitz-Gerald recorded an impressive 9-3 9-4 9-1 victory over
British No1 and 1999 World Champion Cassie Campion in the first World
Champion Challenge held in conjunction with Squash Wales at St.
Mellons Country Club.
IN COMMONWEALTH GAMES
TRAFALGAR SQUARE LAUNCH 25-Jul
THE SRA glass showcourt stopped
the traffic in central London today as the Commonwealth Games 2002
countdown was launched in Trafalgar Square.
Australia and Englands sporting stars forgot their rivalry
(briefly) to help launch the 2002 Commonwealth Games a year to the
day before the multi-sport event starts in Manchester. British Open
champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald had a fun knock-up with fellow Australian
Steve Waugh, the Ashes cricket captain. Nearby, in a boxing
ring, Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne exchanged playful punches
with former England rugby skipper Lawrence Dallaglio, while British
gymnast Annika Reeder demonstrated her floor routine on the roof of a
Surprisingly, reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist Peter Nicol
was not invited to appear, despite the fact that he lives in London.
The event was designed to promote the Games to a wider audience
following a survey revealing that four out of five people living
outside Manchester did not know the Games were taking place in the
Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a
message of support. His statement said: After the tremendous
success of our sportsmen and sportswomen at the Sydney Olympics, I am
really looking forward to next years Commonwealth Games. I am sure
our home teams will again do us proud. As well as being one of the
highlights of the sporting calendar, Manchester 2002 will also be a
centrepiece of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. It should be a
Squash is a major part of the Games, with singles and doubles
competitions taking place on a new glass court that will be floated on
a bed of air from its permanent home in the new National Squash Centre
to the middle of the main event arena.
WHERE IS THE WORLD OPEN?
From Alan Thatcher &
MYSTERY surrounds plans to
stage the early rounds for this year's men's World Open in Cardiff -
with the finals in Bombay two weeks later!
The latest WSF calendar shows the qualifying and first round scheduled
for Cardiff from November 17-20, with the second round onwards taking
place in Bombay from December 3-9. Calls to squash governing bodies
failed to clear up the mystery, with the WSF confirming the dates but
the PSA saying it must be a mistake, and no official announcement has
yet been made.
Earlier in the year the PSA, based in Cardiff, were celebrating
a long-term association to stage the World Open in partnership with an
Indian promotions company. Then the whole thing was shrouded in doubt
when it appeared that no sponsorship was forthcoming to stage the
However, a new event, the World Championships for men, was included in
the Melbourne Festival to be staged in October alongside the Women's
World Open, the Men's World Team Championships, and World Masters
One leading player said: "This is typical. There was no World
Open last year. Now three events come along at once." It should
be an interesting journey from Wales to India, something like The Last
Dais Of The Raj.
2001 WORLD OPEN GATHERS MOMENTUM
PSA Press Release 20-Jul
Final details of the 2001 Men's World Open Squash Championships were
discussed in London this week at a meeting between event promoter Anil
Singh, of Procam International in India, and Gawain Briars, Executive
Director of the Professional Squash Association (PSA).
The $150,000 event will be staged in India in the first week of
December, leading to the final on Sunday 9th December.
The 2001 Men's World Open signals the beginning of a historic
four-year agreement between the PSA and Procam which guarantees a
record $1,000,000 prize fund for the PSA Tour's leading event over the
"We expect to reveal the identity of a major international
sponsor for the event within the next two months," said Procam's
Managing Director Anil Singh on his flying visit to London to meet
with PSA executives. "The event will be the largest and
most high-profile squash tournament ever to be held in our
The new all-glass squash court, from which the much-hailed first live
TV coverage of the British Open was produced this and last year, will
be shipped to India for use in the 2001 World Open.
"The 2001 World Open will provide
a magnificent climax to an action-packed
final five months of the year, which kick off with the Hong Kong Open
in August and continue with the Al-Ahram International and US Open in
September, the Qatar Classic in October and the Pakistan Open and YMG
Capital Classic in
Toronto in November," said the PSA's Gawain Briars.
MANIA HITS THE STATES
Anyone who thought they'd heard
the last of Vicky Botwright's thong was wrong. The famous article of
clothing, never worn in anger, will be auctioned off next weekend in
Newcastle in aid of the John
Dale fund, but the story lives on as US National papers, radio
stations and websites catch the wave. Features in the USA today
website and magazine and other journals have sent visitors scurrying
by the thousand to Vicky's newly launched website www.vickybotwright.com
. One radio station in Chattanooga awarded it "site of the
day", as the visitor count hit a quarter of a million in just
Vicky herself is preparing for the
exhibition matches next weekend followed by the Hong Kong Open, and is
amazed at the turn of events. "There have been so many lovely
messages sent from the website, and Ive done interviews with TV
stations all over the world. It's great publicity for women's squash
and I must admit the response has been overwhelming."
WISPA chief Andrew Shelley is more than pleased with the exposure
created for women's squash. "We are delighted that the story
keeps running and the pictures are appearing in newspapers all over
the world, even in places where squash has a low profile. It is all
good news for the development of the game and we look forward to
photographer Stephen Line buying us all a drink or, better still,
sponsoring the odd tournament."
PACIFIC PACKS A PUNCH FOR 2001
One of the oldest and most
prestigious tournaments on the world circuit, the Cathay Pacific
Hong Kong Open, marks the start of the new season from 21-26
August with a much enhanced package. Prize fund in the PSA event
has been upped to $100,000 and the women will be there too, for the
first time since 1995, with a $63,000 WISPA event.
Full details on www.squashplayer.org/hongkong
IN NEW THONG FRENZY 27-Jun
By ALAN THATCHER
NEW Vicky Botwright media frenzy broke out this week as TV,
newspapers and radio stations followed up an announcement by WISPA
concerning a ruling on players' clothing (see below).
WISPA, the women's players'
association, discussed the issue of Botwright's "thong" ban
at the recent British Open and decided to leave the choice of clothing
to each player's discretion, bearing in mind the issues of good
taste and any religious sensitivities apparent in any country where
they might be performing.
Fleet Street, totally unhinged by the non-appearance of Anna
Kournikova at Wimbledon, and therefore at a loss as to how to fill the
papers for the next fortnight, leapt on to the story with an
enthusiasm not seen since, well, er, three weeks ago when Vicky
threatened to wear a revealing thong on court at the National Indoor
Hits on photographer Stephen Line's squashpics.com
website soared from an average 5,000 hits a day to more than 25,000,
with fans eager to refresh their memories of the poses made public
during the British Open.
Vicky herself was besieged by callers from all sections of the media
and a number of national newspapers offered financial inducements for
her to appear in revealing poses, which Vicky and her new management
team turned down. One well-respected national Sunday paper wanted
Vicky to appear in a fashion spread, wearing a collection of her
favourite dresses and the new Vicky Botwright Collection put together
by Dunlop, Hi-Tec and Squashdiscount.com, but back came the order from
the London picture desk: We want Vicky in a new thong.
Any thong would do, they said. Surely Dunlop must have a thong, they
reasoned. When politely told that No, Vicky had done her thong thing,
and now wanted to move on and concentrate on her squash, the offer was
Vicky, meanwhile, is quietly gearing up for this weekend's Women's
Challenge during the Scottish
Open in Perth, when she will be appearing with British Open
champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald, former world champion Cassie Campion, and
another player as yet unnamed.
Vicky trained with Cassie today and said: "I am feeling quite
happy with my form at the moment and looking forward to playing in
Scotland. I have been training quite a bit with Cassie just lately and
she seems to be playing better and moving better each time I see her.
A fresh set of pictures, featuring Vicky in her new on-court clothing
collection, is about to break. So, watch this space ...
RULE ON THE THONG 26-Jun
Women's International Squash Players' Association, which recently
suggested to one of its members competing in the British
Open that wearing a thong was inappropriate, has decided that no
specific ruling is required in relation to the revealing garment.
WISPA director Andrew Shelley said: "The WISPA Board is happy
with the current clause in the clothing rule which states that 'all
clothing shall conform to the accepted standards of decency and
cultural/religious traditions of the country in which the competition
is taking place'. What we would term abbreviated clothing is okay, and
we have faith in the common sense of the members."
England's Vicky Botwright became the worldwide focus of
attention during the 2001 British Open in Birmingham earlier this
month when photographs of the Manchester-based world No18 wearing a
thong were published in a variety of British newspapers.
"We should be able to wear skimpy clothing if we want to, as some
of the more conventional outfits we wear can be quite
restrictive," said 24-year-old Botwright, dubbed the 'Lancashire
Hot Bot', at the time. "I'm sure if we were allowed to wear
things like this, a lot of players would."
Full story and pictures at www.squashpics.com/vickybot
also at www.vickybotwright.com
WISPA TOUR TO KENYA 24-Jun
Leading international squash
players Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Linda Charman-Smith, the world No3 from
Australia and world No4 from England, respectively, arrived in Nairobi
for the beginning of their three-day WISPA promotional visit to Kenya
fully refreshed. Full Story
CONNAUGHT TRANSPLANT TEST
A crowd of over 80 turned up on Thursday 14 June at the Connaught Club to watch a special charity challenge between world number 2 Peter Nicol and World Transplant Games number 1, Ami Sehmbi. The event was in aid of the Donor Card Awareness Campaign and to help to raise the £1500 Ami had to find to be able to defend his Gold Medal at this year's World Transplant Games in Kobé, Japan.. Full
& FITZ-GERALD HONOURED BY WISPA BOARD 13-Jun
Australian squash stars Liz
Irving and Sarah Fitz-Gerald were honoured by the Women's
International Squash Players' Association for their services to the
sport at the WISPA AGM held during the British Open in Birmingham.
Irving, the former world No2 appearing in her 18th successive British
Open, was standing down from the Board having first joined in 1988. Fitz-Gerald,
who went on to claim her first British Open title after beating her
compatriot earlier in the tournament, was marking ten years as
President of the Association. Her award was inscribed
"Sarah Fitz-Gerald, WISPA President, ten years, so
"WISPA is blessed with a number of players willing to give their
time and energy to both the association and the well-being of women's
squash around the world. Liz has been hugely supportive over
many years - a top pro 'giving something back'," said WISPA
director Andrew Shelley.
"Sarah, meanwhile, is a great ambassador for WISPA. Such an
asset, in fact, that we have an agreement that she can only stand down
as President when Australia get a man on the moon!" Shelley
KHAN RETURNS BUT INJURED JONAH PULLS OUT
SQUASH legend Hashim Khan will
make an emotional return to this years British Open in Birmingham -
at the ripe old age of 86. One of the greatest players of all time -
and founding father of a line of Pakistan players bearing the famous
Khan name - Hashim won his first British Open title in April 1951 and
went on to win six more. He will compete in the events over-60
event this year. The Eye Group's event promoter Paul Gittings said:
Hashim is as much revered in the world of squash as Don Bradman was
in cricket - and we are delighted he is still keen on participating in
British Opens at such an age."
Hashim was due to be joined in the
over-60 event by Jonah Barrington. However, the six-times
champion has aggravated a hip injury during training and has withdrawn
from the event. He will, however, still be in action at the Open,
in the TV commentary box with Alan Thatcher. The Open
semi-finals and finals are again being broadcast live by Sky Sports.
British Open 2001 - full details
on the official site: www.britishopensquash.com
RETIRES - OFFICIAL 29-May
former world number one said he intended to formalise his position on June 15,
his 33rd birthday. He had completed only one match, a first round defeat
against Jonathon Power in Maastricht, since losing in the final of the 1998
British Open to Peter Nicol in Birmingham.
Jansher has not been a member of the PSA for some time and his announcement
came as a surprise only because most people thought he had already retired.
Jansher told the Reuters news agency from his home in Peshawar: "I have
made up my mind to call it a day. It has been a difficult decision but
considering a two-year lay-off because of injuries, I think it is better to
forget about staging one last comeback."
His fall from the top slot, now fought over by Nicol and Power, was
accelerated by knee and groin injuries. He had a series of operations but
failed to find the same agility, rhythm and court coverage which made him the
heir to compatriot Jahangir Khan, who won a record ten consecutive British
Open titles and six World Opens.
Jahangir is now a vice president of the World Squash Federation and is
spearheading the game's bid for Olympic recognition.
Jansher was always more of a rival than a friend of Jahangir's, but in
retirement he reveals his admiration for the man who ruled the game so totally
until Jansher came on the scene promising to end his domination. Jansher said:
"Of all the highlights of my career, more than anything I would remember
my duels with Jahangir, who has not only been a role model for me but for
squash enthusiasts the world over."
It remains to be seen if a role in squash can be found for
Jansher. Certainly his experience and expertise would be welcomed by the
Pakistan SRA, which finds itself in something of a competitive vacuum
following almost five decades of global squash dominance.
Their failure to compete on the international scene is regarded as an acute
embarrassment by the Pakistani squash hierarchy, although Jansher has given no
intimation of any desire to take up coaching.
He was never one of the game's great communicators, preferring instead to let
his racket do the talking for him in such eloquent and dazzling style. To return to the game at his age, and compete at the top
level with super-fit athletes like the current world champion, Nicol, would
have required a superhuman effort. Jansher has opted not to go through the
pain barrier for one final swansong, as romantic a notion as it may have
SCHOENE RETIRES FROM WISPA TOUR
Schoene, Germany's most successful squash player of all time, has
announced her retirement from the WISPA World Tour after 13 years. The
27-year-old from Parsdorf, near Munich, became German National
champion for a record 14th successive year in January, and will
continue to play in national leagues and in European team
"I've had a great time travelling the world since going full-time
in 1988, but for the past two years I have really felt quite lonely as
the only German on the international circuit," the former world
No6 conceded. "I'm now looking forward to spending more
time with my family and boyfriend Michael - and to developing my other
career as a paramedic in the army," added Sergeant Schoene.
A runner-up in the world junior championships in 1991, Schoene won the
European Junior title in 1992 to add to the British Junior Open crowns
she claimed in 1992 and 1993. She reached her first WISPA World
Tour final in October 1988, as a fourteen-year-old in the Olympia Cup
in her home town Munich, and went on to secure five titles in 13 final
JANS LIFT CANADIAN NATIONALS TITLES
World #1 Jonathon Power
completed a full set of 3-0 victories in the Canadian Nationals in Toronto,
beating Graham Ryding 9/2 9/3 9/0 in the final. "I was a little
surprised to win that easy but Shahir worked Graham pretty hard (in the
semis)," Power told Squash
Canada, with his fourth career national title. "I knew it would
eventually take its toll. I was pleased with my play this week and I reached
my goal by winning every match 3-0. It means a lot to me to win here and I'm
really pumped up about it."
Top seeded Melanie Jans won her third
national title in four years, beating Margo Green 9/6 9/4 5/9 9/3. "I
woke up pretty sore this morning," Jans, the Pan Am Games champion in
1999, who also had a tough 3-2 semi-final win, told Squash
Canada. "But I seem to always play well when I had a tough match
the previous day. I seem more focused and in more control. Today I hit the
ball where I wanted it to go."
SUE WRIGHT RETIRES FROM WISPA TOUR
England No1 Sue Wright, twice a British Open finalist,
has decided to retire from the international squash circuit.
After suffering with viral pneumonia for more than eighteen months, Wright
made a sensational comeback at last October's British Open, dismissing seeded
players in each round before becoming the first qualifier to reach the women's
final - almost ten years after competing in the 1991 final. Then in
February 2001, she re-claimed the British National title for the fourth time.
Aged 30, Wright reached number three in the world in addition to periods as
national number one. A Board Member of the Women's International Squash
Players' Association since 1995, she has accumulated 11 WISPA World Tour
titles in both North America and Europe since 1996. Her successful
senior career followed her captaining the England team which won the World
Junior title in 1987.
One legacy of the pneumonia has been the ear problems that have prevented her
from flying, thus limiting access to events on the WISPA World Tour. Furthermore,
she has had to restrict and plan her exertion periods to maintain her health.
Wright plans to continue competing in the UK whenever possible - and, health
permitting, will be working towards a possible selection for the Commonwealth
Games next year.
"It has been a tough decision to make, and without question I will miss
the tour and the people associated with it," said Oxfordshire-based
Wright, who is originally from Biggin Hill in Kent. "But I'm
not giving up completely just yet, just being sensible with my health and
WISPA Director Andrew Shelley added: "Whilst we are sorry to bid
farewell to Sue's international career, we are delighted that her
fiercely-competitive style will not be lost to courts in the UK. Sue is
just as forceful off-court, as a member of the WISPA board looking after the
interests of all our players, and we are glad that she will retain that
Wright appropriately crowned her full-time squash-playing career on the eve of
her retirement announcement by winning the BSPA (British Squash Professionals
Association) Prince Grand Prix Finals title - beating compatriot Jenny
Tranfield, the world No16, in straight games in the final in Salisbury,
For now, squash will be combined with off-court work, which Wright plans to
Van der Ven
Ousted by Stahl 01-May
In a dramatic European AGM following
the European Team Championships, in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, European
President Philip Van der Ven has resigned after what amounted to the loss of
a vote of confidence. Criticism of the president was galvanised by a letter
sent before the Championships to European delegates from the VP Hugo Hannes
of Belgium who is responsible for the European junior circuit. Hannes
explained the difficulties in his relationships with the President, made a
number of criticisms and offered his resignation stated that he would no
longer be able to work with Van der Ven.
Other criticisms were expressed during the
Championships. Danish President Oluf Jorgensen (who was defeated by Van der
Ven in the presidential race four years ago pointed out that Van der Venıs
election pledge to abolish National Affiliation fees had not been fulfiled.
Van der Ven had been the only nomination for the presidency when nominations
had closed. However before the vote Thomas Troedsson, the Swedish delegate
raised the issue of Hannes's resignation offer, of the general discontent,
and questioned whether Van der Ven would wish to continue as President if
there were a majority of abstentions. Support for this view was put forward
by a number of countries including Austria, Denmark and Ireland.
Van der Venıs approach was to hold the
secret ballot and then assess the situation. A secret ballot was held, Van
der Ven received just one vote with the rest abstentions.
"I am sorry it has come to this,"
said Van der Ven. "I do no enjoy the support of the majority and have
no alternative but to resign."
In the absence of other candidates VP Chris
Stahl, the former England manager, who is the delegate from Croatia was
appointed to the presidency for the next 12 months in a vote of confidence
on a show of hands.
JOYCE INJURED IN CAR
CRASH IN NZ 30-Apr
World No.1 Leilani Joyce has been forced to withdraw from a
tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, after a car accident in which she
suffered whiplash injuries. She was not
believed to have been seriously hurt but reports on her condition are
Joyce is due to play in the British Open starting on the 6th June and was
expected to be No.1 seed. At this stage it is not know whether the accident
will affect her participation.
FOR ENGLAND IN EURO TEAMS 25-Apr
Lee Beachill has been recalled by the England selectors for the team which
will defend the European Team Squash Championships men's title in the 2001
event in Eindhoven, Netherlands, from 25-28 April.
Team Championships results
The 23-year-old from Pontefract, who has been overlooked by England
selectors since making his debut in the 1999 European Championships, stunned
the British squash world in February when he won the British National
Championships. Since then he has also claimed the scalps of world No3
Welshman David Evans, the British Open champion, and world No2 compatriot
Peter Nicol, the world champion - and has risen to a career-high England No2
Joining world No16 Lee Beachill in the men's squad will be England No1 Simon
Parke, 28, the world No7 from Nottingham; world No9 Mark Chaloner, 28, from
Lincolnshire; Paul Johnson, the 28-year-old world No11 from Bromley in Kent;
and 29-year-old Nick Taylor, the world No22 from Manchester.
The women's line-up, led by 29-year-old world
No4 Linda Charman-Smith, from Hailsham in Sussex, will include world No6
Tania Bailey, 21, from Stamford in Lincolnshire; Gloucester-based world No9
Fiona Geaves, 33; and Kent's Stephanie Brind, the 23-year-old world No10
from Bexleyheath. British National champion Sue Wright, the new
England No1, is unavailable.
England beat France in last year's men's final to celebrate their 25th
triumph in the event since the inaugural championships in 1973, whilst
England defeated Germany in the women's final to extend their unbeaten reign
in the competition since 1978.
Team Championships results
MARKS COMEBACK IN KUALA LUMPUR 10-Apr
Five months after undergoing surgery
on her back, England's former world champion and world No1 Cassie Campion
will mark her WISPA World Tour comeback at the Women's Milo Open in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, from 11-14 April.
"I just can't wait to get back onto the WISPA tour again after not
playing for so long," said the 28-year-old from Norfolk, now based in
Halifax in Yorkshire. "Everything seems to have gone really well since
the operation - my training has gone magnificently and I feel really mobile,
without any twinges in my back. I'm now looking forward to a sequence of
daily hard matches to get my eye in, then a number of events in the US in
May - before June's British Open, where all my troubles started last
year," Campion added.
Campion, currently ranked 12 in the world, is top seed in KL, and will meet
local player Sharon Wee in the first round. Her anticipated opponent in
Saturday's final will be Denmark's No2 seed Ellen Petersen.
INTER-COUNTIES TITLE AT LAST 09-Apr
It's taken 26 years but Sussex
squash finally claimed the Men's Intercounty Championship, with a
hard fought victory over long time rivals, Kent. The players in both teams
had battled on many occasions in the junior ranks and then continued the
conflicts in recent years in the senior game, reports Tim Garner.
The final began so well for Kent as Adham Abou Taleb put them one up with a
straight games victory over Angus Kirkland. The Sussex man had only been on
court five times in the previous 6 months but still posesses one of the
deadliest short games around. However, Taleb is no slouch with the racket
himself and the crowd were treated to some exquisite squash, with Taleb
proving just too mobile for the Sussex no.5.
Before the final, Sussex captain Tim Garner had commented he thought they
needed one of the first two rubbers if they were going to capture the title.
He must have been rather despondent to see a resurgent John Russell put in a
magnificent performance against Julian Wellings. Leading 2-1 but trailing
4-8, Russell fired in four unreturnable shots and went on to capture the tie
for Kent after 80 minutes of pulsating squash.
With their backs against the wall, the Sussex dream seemed to be over as Tim
Vail fell behind 0-2 and Pete Genever trailed 0-1. However, in an amazing
turnaround Vail scorched through opponent Ben Ford to win in five. Using the
back of the court rather than the front Vail won the last 3 games for the
loss of just 3 points. Meanwhile, Genever was producing a comeback of his
own to beat World no.11 Paul Johnson in four. Genever has steadily climbed
the world rankings this season and once again he demonstrated how much he
has come on, reeling in his more illustrious opponent.
Over the meal the night before, Kirkland had mischievously said that he
thought a captain's innings might be required by Garner. How right he was!
With Sussex back in the match, Garner faced one of England's shooting stars,
Adrian Grant, to decide the destiny of this year's championship. The match
seesawed backwards and forwards as Garner led 1-0 and 2-1 but each time was
pegged back by Grant, who finally lead himself, 4-0 in the fifth. Garner was
down but not out and, urged on by his friends/team-mates, he clawed his way
to match (and championship) ball. Grant hung on and saved four matchballs
with precision accurate winners, but eventually cracked as Garner took the
match 9/7 in the fifth.
The Sussex/Kent encounter lasted nearly 4 1/2 hours and was a fitting way
for Sussex to pick up only their second title in 50 years. It was evident
from their joy that they had waited sometime for this success.
In the semi-finals Sussex swept aside Nottingham 5-0, while Kent eased past
Yorkshire 4-1, with Closed Champion, Lee Beachill, Yorkshire's sole winner.
The Ladies' title was taken by Nottinghamshire, beating Lancashire in the
Dale in shock brain operation 30-Mar
By ALAN THATCHER
SQUASH lovers everywhere were stunned to learn the news that popular professional
John Dale was in hospital suffering from what has been described as a brain tumour.
The genial Geordie giant is in Newcastle General Hospital. He had been suffering from headaches in recent weeks and a scan revealed the shocking nature of his illness. Swelling on the brain was stopping vital circulation flow, and surgeons operated on Friday to remove a growth. Test results are still awaited to determine the exact nature of the removed material.
John is five-times Northumbria champion, and the reigning Maidstone Open champion. Maidstone tournament director Alan Thatcher commented "I had been looking forward to welcoming him back to the club at the end of April for this year's event, which is the final tournament in the Prince BSPA Grand Prix Series. I am sure his many friends in the game, especially in his native North-East, will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery."
ATTRACTS WORLD CHAMPION PETER NICOL 21-Mar
Scotland's world squash champion Peter Nicol has switched his allegiance to
England to take advantage of the Lottery-funded World Class Performance
Programme run by the sport's English governing body, the Squash Rackets
The 27-year-old world No1, who won the sport's first men's gold medal in the
Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in 1998 and was honoured with an MBE in June
1999, was born in Inverurie, near Aberdeen - but has been based in London,
training at the Connaught Club in Chingford, for more than ten years.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to compete on the world stage
against players that are being supported both by comprehensive performance
backup programmes as well as through government awards and grants,"
said Nicol. "By moving to England, and being a nominated player
within the SRA's World Class Performance Programme, I hope to maintain the
position I have worked so hard to secure over a number of years."
England's World Class Performance Programme was launched in October 1997 and
came into full operation in January 2000. The Programme, supported by
Sport England through the Lottery Sports Fund, put in place a performance
environment designed to provide players with a full range of facilities -
such as sports science, sports psychology, sports medicine, funding for
tournament commitments, coaching, video analysis, etc. - required to move to
the top positions of the world game.
Matt Hammond, the SRA's Performance Director, said: "Peter has
had to watch a number of his key opponents receive support from their own
government agencies which has enabled them to move closer to him. He
has acknowledged that our World Class Programme represents the best
all-round support programme in the world and wants to take advantage of that
opportunity. He is not only a great athlete but also a fine ambassador
for the sport, and he will provide the ultimate role model for the younger
up-and-coming players in
Since Nicol has lived and trained in England during his formative years
under the guidance initially of current England national coach David Pearson
and now Neil Harvey - both of whom were honoured with the National Coaching
Foundation's prestigious Mussabini Medal earlier this season - there will
not be any immediate difference to his training, preparation and competition
schedule. The significant changes, however, will be made in the areas
of sports science and sports medicine, and in particular the introduction of
match analysis information for all-round technical and tactical
Nicol's move has been ratified by the World
Squash Federation, though he will not be able to represent England until
2002, three years after he last played for Scotland. He added:
"I have had an opportunity to look at the state-of-the-art application
of information technology to squash and want to be part of the game's
evolution - as well as being the highest ranked player in the world!"
Since the launch of the SRA's World Class Performance Programme, England
have won a number of world squash titles - including the men's world team
crown in 1997; the women's world team trophy in 2000; the men's world junior
team titles in 1998 and 2000, and the World Cup in 1999. Also in 1999,
Norfolk's Cassie Campion became the women's World Open champion for the
first time. In the sport's Commonwealth Games debut in Malaysia in
1998, England claimed seven medals (two gold, one silver and four bronze) -
more than any other country. Furthermore, England recorded their 25th
men's title in last year's European Championships, the women's team
extending their unbeaten reign since 1978.
BACKLASH FOR NICOL 20-Mar
The Scottish Squash Association has
told World No.1 Peter Nicol that he will make a 'big mistake' if he turns
his back on Scotland to play for England. Scottish Squash spokesman George
Meiras has been quoted as saying, "It's a very big mistake on Peter's
The 27-year-old Nicol however feels he has
been left with no choice because the country of his birth has failed to give
him the financial support he deserves and needs. The move, if it is
confirmed, will put Nicol's participation in the Commonwealth Games in jeopardy.
He is the reigning Commonwealth Games
titleholder and his participation in the Games has been seen as of major
value to Scotland, to the sport of squash and to the Games themselves.
"I was stunned when I heard and could
not actually believe it," said Louise Martin, Chairman of the Scottish
Commonwealth Games Council. "As far as we are concerned Peter is still
a potential team member for the 2002 Games. He launched the sponsorship on
December the 21st and is a supporter of everything Scottish. I am
trying to speak to him at the moment."
"He played for Scotland in Malaysia in
1998 and won a gold medal and has proved to be a great team member so I find
this quite unbelievable. He certainly hasn't spoken to or contacted anyone here
and it is really upsetting because he is a great ambassador for the
youngsters as well."
"He hasn't been in touch with us for
quite some time as he's not even eligible to represent England until the end
of this year. The only way he can play for them anyway is if he writes for
special dispensation. He has already played for Scotland anyway and whatever
country he wants to represent he has to get support from the Commonwealth
Games Council and the Scottish Commonwealth Games Council to do that.
Personally I would be very loath to agree to that because it would mean that
he would be competing against us in future. I have left a message on his
phone and I am waiting for him to get in touch. He was in Germany in the
weekend which is the last time I heard."
Nicol's Scottish compatriot Martin Heath
however, has said he understands Nicol's position while the international
shot putter Steph Harwood, who defected to Ireland because he didnt feel
valued in Britain, has also come to Nicol's defence: "I fully support
Peter's position. It was a shock to me but I fully understand where he is
coming from," said Harwood.
An official announcement is expected on
Nicol's future on Wednesday, at a press conference at Lambs Club, London.
IN SHOCK ENGLAND MOVE 19-Mar
World Champion Peter Nicol, one of Scotland's most successful sportsmen has
made moves to change his allegiance to England. The announcement, made
in interviews with English newspapers and on Radio Five are likely to cause
dismay north of the border. The move will almost certainly end any Scottish
hopes of winning a first squash world team title.
It is believed that Nicol will sit down with officials of the Squash Rackets
Association this week. Nicol's coach and advisor, Neil Harvey, is a former
England team coach.
Nicol has stated that he is fed up that his achievements have not bought any
financial support in Scotland and he wants to take advantage of the
lottery funding available in England.
Nicol did not compete for Scotland in the last European or World Team
Championships and under the new four year rule will be eligible to play for
England in two years time but will not be eligible for this year's extravaganza
Nicol's moves follows a foot injury in October which put him out of British
Open contention. He has stated that his income has been slashed for 4 months
and that it made him realise that at the age of 27 he needed to take action
to prolong his career. He has said that he has to pay for Harvey and play
league games to supplement his income.
"My decision is nothing to do with
money" said Nicol. "It is to do with making sure I
receive the kind of support a professional athlete requires to stay at the
very highest level. I guess some folk in Scotland might be calling me all
sorts of names after the story broke that I am considering the option of
playing for England. But it is not a course of action I am taking lightly. A
lot of people in Scotland have done a lot for me and helped me throughout my
career and I am grateful to them all. If things go smoothly then it looks
like I might be going there as an England player. The decision is tearing me
in half. I hope, for the sake of Scottish sport, that proper funding is put
in place to look after our best athletes so that this situation is not
allowed to happen again."
'Hurghada,' the Red Sea extravaganza,
involving the 32 draw Men's Al Ahram PSA Masters and the Women's Grand Prix
Finals is back on and confirmed for the 13-19th April. The event was in
doubt following its postponement due to TV scheduling difficulties. Egypt
have a World Cup football clash with the earlier dates limiting the
possibilities for TV coverage and this led to the postponement.
The top eight players from WISPA's Grand Prix events are to play off in the
association's finals, including newcomers Tania Bailey and Vanessa
Atkinson. World No1 Leilani Joyce, winner of four of the season's major
titles including the British Open, heads the list of players. The 2001 World
Grand Prix Finals will also feature the return of Australia's three-times
former world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who convincingly beat Joyce in the
Munich final recently, and the World Champion Carol Owens.
Owens is the titleholder and seems to produce some of her best squash in
Egypt. Also competing are England's Natalie Grainger, Linda Charman and
The Al Ahram PSA Masters and
the Womenıs WISPA World Grand Prix Finals scheduled for the 25th to
the 31st March, at Hurghada on the Red Sea, have been postponed and are in
doubt. The shock news came just 10 days before the event is meant to get
underway and has caused chaos with players and officials travel schedules.
Egyptian TV could not cover the event in the times scheduled and the
tournament was therefore postponed.
Promoters have said that it is hoped to reschedule the event but officials
have accepted that it may not take place at all. They have requested a
written confirmation of the verbal offer the organisers have made to pay
flight cancellation fees.
The sanctioning player organisations WISPA and PSA are consulting members on
a proposal to hold the event in April, which could be the 13th -19th,
straddling the Easter Weekend. With eight women in the Grand Prix
finals and 32 men in the main PSA Masters main draw plus the qualification,
players there may be difficulties in co-ordinating a rescheduling exercise
at short notice.
In a shock move the Queens Cup, an
eight country invitational squash championship, billed as offering the
largest winner's purse in squash has been cancelled. The cancellation
follows immediately on the heels of the cancellation of the Irish Open due
to the Foot and Mouth epidemic. The Queenıs Club was due to take place
from April 3rd to April 8th 2001 the
the historic Queenıs Club in London.
"As a new event we were willing to take
an initial loss but we were unable, in the time available, to attract the
minimum sponsorship required in order to produce a first class event,"
said Jonathon Smith, MD of JMS Marketing who where promoting the event.
In essence the lack of sponsorship and the
uncertainty surrounding the ticket sales for a new event made the event
financially too big a risk. "We had to draw the line and we have done
that in time. In a month or so we will look at the future of the event. We
have a big TV package in place for next year which is important for a
headline sponsor. Perhaps this is a
blimp, a bump in the road. We would love the event to take place."