Monday, May 2, 2016

New York Could Become The Thermopylae of Squash

Having recently watched the great El Gouna finals match between Greg Gaultier and Mohamed El Shorbagy, I can only say it's not unlike the great Spartan warrior Leonides fending of the Persian invasian of Greece at the Battle of Thermopylae. Gaultier played the best squash I've ever seen him play, and in the end, he was carried off the court on his shield in the manner of all Great Spartan warriors, like Leonides himself. A great, great, honor, but not as great an honor if Gaultier had won that match. With Nick Matthew injured, Gaultier stands alone with a small group (Rosner and Rodriguez) battling a ferocious onslaught and overpowering presence of Egyptian squash players . They keep coming at you, and not just the name, marquee players. Moreover, this onslaught is currently without arugably the greatest player of his generation, Ramy Ashour. With Ramy out indefinitely due to injuries, lo and behold, you now have to contend with the brilliant new comer, Ali Farag, who might have been in the top 3 if he had gone directly to the pros and bypassed college. Also, to this onslaught, add the surging Marwan ElShorbagy, and you see every draw is packed with a talented, top ten, Egyptian player. The Egyptians have ushered in a new game, no doubt, a new era; the pace of their game is ferocious, ending up with number 1 in the world, Mohamed ElShorbagy hitting shots, as Hisham Ashour described them, as if they might go through the walls of the court. He dictates a pace in the game that's never been seen before, and not far behind is Farag and Marwan, and of course, Mosaad and Gawad (did I forget anyone? probably another 5 or 6 very talented Egyptian players). If you watch that match Mohamed ElShorbagy had with Rosner in El Gouna, Rosner sometimes didn't have anytime to prepare for any decent return. While Mohamed is dominating right now, there are many, as I've described, waiting in the wings. What makes pro-squash right now so exciting, is the drama created by Gaultier, and Matthew before, standing up against this massive Egyptian squash invasion. All roads to the top ten seem to go through Thermopylae, or Egyptian squash. Pakistan in its glory years had to contend with a very talented group of Players from Australia;Leonides was not alone, back then, like he is today. With Matthew and Gaultier nearing the end of their brilliant careers, no one outside of Egypt is on the horizon to really challenge Egypt's utter and absolute dominance. Where are Diego Elias, Richie Fallows, or Nicolas Mueller (whom I thought would be in the top ten by now)? Who is on the horizon? And of course, where's US squash, who has no one even on the same planet?. Canada? Autstralia? France? Iraq? So what's the plan for the rest of the squash world? At that Battle of Thermopylae, the Persians used Greeks to find a way around the Spartans and thus enabled a successful (albeit temporary) defeat of them. The pro-squash world is at a similar critical point today. Maybe, the rest of the squash world should use the Egyptian coaches for training to learn to beat them at their own game? Maintain that drama, it's great for squash. Diego? Richie? and anyone else aspiring to make the PSA Top Ten, come to New York, you have one of the most brilliant coaches (Egyptian or otherwise), right here in New York. Leonides gave the Greeks time, the rest of the squash world needs some time too. My left arm is on the cutting board for this, I believe Diego Elias (I am not as certain about anyone else), coming to New York, will be challenging for number 1 in the world in two years. He's here, that wizard of squash, one of the best squash minds in the world, right here, let him take you to the honor and glory that is, and was, Gaultier and Matthew. As for Pakistan, as great as your past glory was, and as great as the two Khans were, you too, come to New York, it's here for you as well. Farhan Zaman, come train with the wizard, help New York become the epicenter of professional squash development. (BTW the Persians were eventually defeated at Salamis after they won their Battle at Thermopylae.)