When I first read about the British Squash Open I had to double check that I had read it right, A squash court outside, in a football stadium, in England, with our weather? Surely that can’t be right, I was very intrigued and having previously travelled to London and Manchester to watch the Squash, Hull was just going to be another adventure.
When I started working at Low Wood Leisure Club over 4 years ago, I’d never played squash or even seen it on television or read about it in the media. Things have changed since then. I now play 5 times a week with our members and even coach a few of the members who are in the same situation I was 4 years ago – never played the sport but just keen to learn.
Over 3 years ago we were very lucky to witness the then-world number 1 squash player, James Willstrop, he was recovering from a Achilles injury and used our court for a week to help his rehabilitation. It’s safe to say I didn’t do much that week apart from stand and admire the best in the world! That was the point that I caught the squash bug. Since then I’ve been to London on two occasions and to Manchester three times to watch the best in the world compete.
Last year the British Open was played at the 02 Arena and won by Britain’s own Nick Matthew, who I was lucky enough to sit next to during the session I attended. Nick had already played and won earlier in the afternoon, so I picked his brain for a good 30 minutes. I asked him what he thought of the venue and conditions. He explained that it is difficult to play in colder conditions as the ball doesn’t bounce as much and that it was particularly difficult for the Egyptian players who were struggling as they are used to playing in warmer climates.
The first match of the 2013 evening session featured an all-Egyptian pair; the current world number one Ramy Ashour played his squash partner Omar Mossad. Ramy won quite comfortably 3-0 and despite what Nick Matthew had said earlier, Ramy in his interview after the match said.
“The conditions are amazing, the court is amazing! It ‘s just looking perfect. When the idea first came out, putting a squash court on a football pitch, nobody was sure of how it would look. And it’s working! I’ve been putting photos of the court on tweet and FB, and everybody agrees that it’s stunning.”
I agreed with Ramy, it was amazing!!!!!
The next match on was really what I had come all the way to Hull for. James Willstrop was playing South African Steve Coppinger. I got talking to a gentleman just behind me who had travelled all the way from South Africa to support Steve Coppinger (and I thought I had travelled far coming from the Lakes!) It was a gripping match lasting over an hour, but James just managed to grind out a victory. In what he called “brutal” conditions. After he did his interview I managed to get James to sign some photographs which we hope to display in the Club very soon.
“I see coming through this match as a very positive thing. It’s not squash this, it’s so cold, it’s really brutal on the body, and it’s not endurance work, more of a shoot out!!!!
Thing is, it’s going so fast you don’t have much time to gather your thoughts…
This is really an enticing week ahead, the whole world of squash is coming to Hull… And I was ready for it tonight, and I’m glad I was, because he was just on fire”…
The final match of the night involved the to be, in my opinion, World champion Mohammed El Shorbagy. The Egyptian is only 21, last year he won the world junior open an has rocketed up the world rankings to number 5, he plays very entertaining an aggressive squash which is great to watch. He brushed aside his opponent Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Columbia in just over 30 minutes.
Unfortunately James Willstrop got beaten in the semi finals on the Friday by Ramy Ashour. Ramy went on to beat Greg Gautier in the final on Sunday. There was some good news for the Brits though as Laura Massaro beat Nicole David in the women’s final to make history as the first ever-British woman to win the British Open.
Well done Laura!!! I’ve just booked my tickets for the World Championships which are being held in Manchester at the end of September. Hopefully James can go one step further and become World Champion!
- Written by Daniel Nevinson form the Low Wood Club