Monday, September 7, 2009

The 10 Greatest Squash Players

I like to put together this list periodically. These are only players I've seen live or on video, so I can't include the likes of Hashim Khan, Cam Nancarrow, etc.

Here goes, arguably the best softballers I've seen in the last 25 plus years following squash:

1. Jansher Kahn -- any doubt about this. I was so fortunate to see him on a number of occassions, of course there are many clips of him. Who else could make Chris Ditnmar (on this list too) look like he was ranked in the 50's instead of number 2. They call him the "punisher" no doubt because he put the screws to his opponents and kept turning the screws tighter and tighter until the very end. The Michael Jordan of squash, we'll never see the likes of Jordan or Jansher.

2. Jahangir Kahn -- What can you say about Jahangir. Like Gehrig and Ruth, Ali and took Jahangir to really bring out the greatness of Jansher. Without Jansher, Jahangir would far and above the rest be the best. Watch that match between the two in the early 90's at the TOC, I believe. Squash like you've never seen and Jahangir looses in 4.

3. Peter Nicol -- I remember when he came on the scene in the early 90's as a teenager on the Grand Prix tournament. He beat everyone, including Anders Wahlstadt, the best player playing in the US. I remember talking to Anders about what it was like playing Nicol, he simply said he took the ball so early. So much footage of him his style is something, so good for so long.

4. Chris Ditmar -- So incredibly gifted and to think when I saw him it was when he came back from a severe knee injury. Unfortunately, he played at number 2 when Jansher was number one. A ferocious player, in any other era would have been number 1.

5. Rodney Martin -- Another gifted one. Watching him play and some of his shots would be like watch Da Vinci sketch or a great surgeon performing the most intricate surgery. That racquet and those hands. If I remember correctly I saw him lose to Jansher but you could see he really pressured Jansher, at least that was my observation.

6. David Palmer -- Okay, this is like three Australians in a row. But what a player, the best, arguably forehand drop and forehand kill shot ever. We've seen so much of him, when he retires, he will be held in even higher esteem.
7. Jonathan Power -- He made it to number 1 and then retired number 1 forever into eternity, provided he doesn't return to the tour. Quite a feat, and to listen to other players talk about him and how much influence he had on the game, I admit, I was wrong to have left him off this list in the first place.

8. Tristan Nancarrow -- In the genes I guess...This player was something, I saw him play Mark Talbot and it was like an adult toying with a child on the court. The way he moved, his racquet, he reminded me of all those great natural talents that prevail in any sport -- McEnroe, Bonds, Magic...he had those qualities, I still remember the details of that match almost 20 years later.

9. Gregory Gaultier -- I think he is just now coming into his own. I have seen a number of his matches. He attacks the ball with such ferocity and his balance and positioning near perfect. I think he is the real number 1 right now and will be for sometime.

10. Nick Matthew -- He's my favorite player. He has come into his own, has anyone ever had a better forehand volley in the game? I hope he stays healthy, because he could easily move into the top 5 of all time. So much talent and mental toughness.

Near Misses -- Brett Martin-- Sorry, a real favorite of mine, but JP replaced him on the list. Stuart Boswell -- I think he had one of the great games and such a brilliant backhand, unfortunately, all the injuries; he would or could have been one of the greats, and he's always been another of my favorites.

Note: I know, no Egyptians on the list. Too soon to tell. My son predicts when it's all said and done Kareem Darwish will be on this list. He's usually right but we'll see how it goes.

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