Thursday 14 June 2007

Australia open ... or not?

Jonah: success Down UnderReading the excellent Jonah: The Authorised Biography of Jonah Barrington I was struck by the number of times he participated in (and won) tournaments in Australia.

But what's the status of these events now?

A glance at the tournaments Barrington played in the country reveal events open to amateurs and professionals attracting a word-class field:

International Championship Team and Individual Events 1967
Australian Amateur 1968 (winner)
Australian Open 1970 (winner)
Australian Professional 1970 (winner)

The 2007 Australian Open will be held in Clare, a small town near Adelaide. It's move from one of the larger cities seems symptomatic of a growing indifference to squash in Australia.

None of the top 10 players in either the men or women's game have been confirmed to play in this year's event.

Past men's winners include Geoff Hunt, Brett and Rod Martin and Chris Dittmar, while Sarah Fitz-Gerald, Vicki Cardwell, Rhonda Thorne and Rachael Grinham have all taken the women's title.

It is a shame that a country which has produced so many of the current top 20 players (Ricketts, Palmer, Boswell, White on the PSA tour, the Grinham sisters and Kasey Brown on the WISPA tour) shows such a lack of investment when it comes putting on international events.

Rachel and Natalie Grinham battle it out in the 2006 Commonwealth Games finalLast years' disagreement between the Grinham sisters and Squash Australia over selection policy for the Women's World Team Championships in Edmonton also suggests that politics may also be playing a factor in the sport's development in the country.

As any long-suffering British sports fan will testify, the concept of Australia not supporting its athletes is something that hardly seems credible given the regular trouncing we get from the Aussies in cricket, rugby, swimming and more besides.

Squash Australia

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