The Most Fascinating Sport – Now More Than Ever

posted in: Life On Tour | 0

People who play squash – LOVE squash! Whatever a players level, they become obsessed whenever they have the opportunity they look to seek out squash information, where to watch squash, and try to arrange their next match.

I’ve never seen a sport which gets people obsessed like squash does. I know casual tennis players, who love playing tennis, don’t feel this way about their sport. The same goes for mates who play football. They like their sport but certainly would not consider themselves obsessive.

All you squash-obsessive out there will no doubt have seen Gregory Gaultier beat Nick Matthew in the final of The British Open at the weekend. Squash is the fastest sport on earth, yet we have just had a major final featuring two players with a combined age of 70!

Squash - The most fascinating sportThis definitely serves as a point to reflect on what an amazing spectacle our sport is. It’s a furiously fast game requiring massive levels of speed and stamina, but it also demands high levels of thought and concentration. In recent years squash has become even faster and more attacking, favouring the young, fast and fearless. This simply serves to make squash even more intriguing because we still have incredibly stubborn players in their 30’s who are not yet willing to give way to the youngsters. This “older generation” of champions are experienced and ‘court-wise’; traits which can only come from years and years of playing the World Tour. These traded craftsmen are stubborn, they know their strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly they are willing to listen to their bodies and know how their bodies react to different scenarios. They are applying their extensive knowledge of the sports and of themselves so they can adapt to counter-act the strengths of the younger generation.

As well as age differences, we also have global differences. Over the last 5 years it has seemed inevitable that squash will be governed by Egyptian players. This may be so but the European players like Nick Matthew, Gregory Gaultier and even James Willstrop are all in top form. Matches are not yet all-Egyptian affairs as many predicted they would be by now. We are even seeing the emergence of Diego Elias, a South American, and Paul Coll, a New Zealander, who seem more than happy to mix-it with the ‘big boys’.

World Champion, Karim Gawad, World No.1 for the last 2 years, Mohamed ElShorbagy, and youngsters like Marwan ElShorbagy, Ali Farag, Fares Dessouky and Mohamed Abouelghar are obviously all doing their best to make this Egyptian dominance happen as soon as possible. But how long will it take?

Then we go on to look at the different styles. Amr Shabana gave rise to a whole new breed of squash player coming from Egypt. An attacking player, showing remarkable confidence to hit winning shots and who seem almost immune to nerves no matter what the game score. Some who attack with raw power and some who attack with outrageous skill and clever angles. Then we have the clever, generally older players, who adapt and change the pace of the rallies. These players are by no means negative or defensive, yet measured. They have had many rivalries over the years against many different styles of player. No challenge is too big for them

So; what we are now seeing is a sport where we have top players who are 23 years old and top players who are 36 years old! We have European’s who are hanging on to withstand the Egyptian barrage. In almost every match we are seeing age vs youth, Europe vs Egypt, fearlessness vs knowledge and attack vs defence. It simply makes for even more interest every time there is a major event. Nothing is predictable, everything offers excitement and contrast. I personally can’t wait for the next major tournament!