After a late night of TOC and writing and some early morning lessons and training...okay, took a wonderful nap and missed the afternoon session. But the evening session was great, the best night of the year in the US squash world.
First off John Nimick is a class act, the tournament director has stopped using urban squash kids to mop up the floors and clean the glass, or at least from what I've seen. The referees seem to be doing quite a nice job. Last year I wrote an email to John Nimick about the use of urban squash kids, most of who are minorities, that it promotes stereotyping.
The tournament this year has an energy that is incredible, I've been coming here for most of the last 13 years, and there is just something great going on...Beth Rasin, I watched her in action, she juggles about 10 things all at once, never dropping a thing.
Back to squash, Shaun Lereaux, who lost to Wilstrop in the first round, interesting perspective on the qualifier or the "David" facing a "Goliath". "You don't go on the court thinking you are going to lose, but you go on the court maybe thinking you can hang with a top 10 player..." -- for a game that is. So what does he take away from the experience, maybe the next time hanging with a top 10 player for a game and a half. The life of the qualifier, hard life, "financially very hard." Peter Barker, how many years before he broke into the top 10? The love of this game...
Dunlop balls, lots of talk about this lately. Per a source close to the ball, so to speak, the white ball the pros use is a spongier (if that's a word) ball than the black ones used. College, WISPA, PSA long term contracts to play with these balls, 5 years I think. This is one area not to copy the pros, it's a lock, so for all the rest who play with this ball and are wondering did they change it, it's inferior, simple as that. The Pinto of squash balls...
Mike Westin, head Pro at CityView squash and former touring professional is starting an elite development for younger players there with Touring Professional and great top 10/11 Wael Hindi. Mike is a really knowledgeable guy, great perspective on the Australian Institute of Sports and their squash development, they've had their day is what I've gathered. Mike is from New Zealand, would that have anything to do with his perspective?
Speaking of which, at the bar, met the best squash reporter on the planet Fran G. from squashsite.com, she is something...a French Woman without a glass of wine...but she had the quote of the day from Shabana or someone, concerning all the Egyptians, "their time has come..." but in the same breath..."what factory are they all from...shut down that factory!" The Australians, the Pakistans, now the Egyptians, they seem to have all had their time, the one constant though are those amazing Brits, will the Americans have their time? Not any time soon, 20 year old Nicolas Mueller, qualifier, dispatched US #1 Illingsworth methodically. And he beat Chris Gordon in the qualifying round 2 as well. I asked him what was his strategy going in, he said Julian was a bit injured but he knew he was weak in the forehand court so he attacked him there...interesting, Mueller said while, like most players, he plays 75% of his shots to his opponents backhand, he played a lot more to the forehand. And what does Illingsworth do with his neck and upper body when covering the forehand drop. Mueller received a call from his mother, congratulating him, but the call Tuesday, no doubt will be her condolences after he faces Ramy Ashour #1 in the world -- a learning experience, I think he said.
Back to Fran G. of squashsite.com -- great bits on Frenchman Gaultier her country's best player, and in my mind the real number 1 player in the world. At 11 years old he was doing 73 consecutive figure 8's...go to totalsquash.com and check out Mark Chaloner doing 93, but Mark is not 11 and last I checked a top 100 pro. Fran G. had some great comments on Gaultier, he is "like a sponge, he picks up so much from the best players." My son joined this conversation and talked about how Gaultier picked up from Lincou the head fake out of the front and in a 2003 match totally faked Nicol out. Fran G. responded with now he has absorbed a lot of Shabana...
Edy Kapur, head Pro at Sports Club/LA in the city, is on the mend -- great seeing him about after a lengthy illness, he's one of our favorites. Rackets vs. Footwork vs. match play...both Gordon and Illingsworth don't have top 20 footwork, I said, they have great rackets and they have played lots of matches from the time they were young, to fix technical flaws at this stage really tough, big step back to do this. We've had this argument about my son an aspiring pro, my son has the footwork of Ramy and great rackets, he's a thing of beauty to watch, but he doesn't have the matches, he's a bit lazy, he doesn't have the edge...just watch Palmer before a match and during a match, the edge, mentally and experience. A long rode ahead in the match play, but it's all forward, no stepping back if my son wants it.
Hisham Ashour will do an interview and photo shoot with squashzag (squashzag.com) he is lean and mean and as stated earlier a great player. Boswell, sorry I missed your match, was taking that much needed nap, but like the post man, neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor flood (something like that...it's engraved on the old 8 th Ave. and 33rd street Post Office in the City) will keep me from watching you play Nick Mathew -- tough call, you are both my two favorite players, and Boswell, a New Zealand qualifier, Shua, came up to me about my blog posting top 10 players I've seen of all time, of which you are there -- he complimented me on your inclusion on that list.
Okay lights out, but this note I made, don't confuse sportsmanship with complacency, will get to that when I've figured out what I meant. Might be something to ask Malcom Wilstrop about, he's been around the tournament, which reminds me, his book, Play to Win Squash, is a must read -- at the very least he can autograph it for me.