Sunday 28 September 2008

New features on squashblog!

Twitter logoTwo new features on squashblog this week: a 'ratings' widget and a feed from the new squashblog Twitter page ...

The ratings feature beneath each article on the squashblog home page lets you tell me what you think about a blog posting at the click of a button. Rate each article on a scale of one to five stars, and click the info button to see how others have rated the writing.

The new squashblog Twitter page is a first for web coverage of squash. Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as 'tweets'), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

Screengrab of ratings widgetUpdates are displayed on the new squashblog Twitter page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application such as Twitterrific or Facebook. So, for instance, I can now email live updates during a tournament and banter with other squash fans.

You can see squashblog Twitter updates to the right of this page (in the navigation bar) or visit the new squashblog Twitter page itself.

At present the Twitter community for squash is small - change that by signing up: it's free!

To learn more and start twittering about squash, click here.

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Thursday 25 September 2008

Manchester set to showcase World's best

Hi-Tech Squash World Championships Manchester 2008The Hi-Tech Squash World Championships Manchester 2008 will see the best male and female players from around the world gather in Manchester for a 9-day squash extravaganza, which begins on Saturday 11 October 2008 ...

For the first time ever in a UK city, the World's top 64 men and the leading 32 women will be competing for the title of World Champion at the same tournament.

The organising consortium appear to be doing a great job in promoting the event. Manchester as a city has always done a good job of incorporating squash into the fabric of the city's sporting scene, and the World Open is being promoted as one of a number of large sporting events to take place there in 2008.

Shabana, World Champion in Bermuda in 2007Egypt's Amr Shabana has been seeded to defend his World Title in the men's draw, and become only the fourth man after Jansher Khan, Jahangir Khan and Geoff Hunt to win the sport's Blue Riband event for a fourth occasion.

Home interest will be led by James Willstop, who will be seeking to get amongst the Egyptians and become the first British World Champion since Peter Nicol's victory in 1999:

"The World Open is the biggest tournament for any player and there’s a huge sense of anticipation around this year’s Championships. For me personally it will be extra special as it will be like playing in my own back garden. The National Squash Centre is just an hour from where I live and I'm extremely familiar with the court and the place. As an English player you couldn’t ask for any more and this will certainly be a highlight of my career."

In the women's event, Malaysia's Nicol David has been seeded to win her third World Open title. David suffered a shock defeat to New Zealand's Shelley Kitchen in the second round last year, with the World crown eventually won by Australia's Rachael Grinham.

Rachael Grinham: World Champion in 2007English interest will see Vicky Botwright contest the last big event of her career before retiring from the world tour; Tania Bailey, the world number 7, is the only notable absentee from the draw after being forced to miss out due to an ongoing troublesome knee injury which has plagued her for much of the season.

A special 'season ticket' will offer die-hard fans the chance to watch all sessions throughout the week at a significant discount.

Importantly for the sport's Olympic aspirations, Sir Craig Reedie - a British IOC committee member who lists squash as one of his own sporting interests on his page on the Olympic website - has been invited to attend, where he will join fellow IOC Member Tunku Imran.

Squashblogger will be there on semi-final and finals days. Have you bought your ticket yet? They're selling fast and can be purchased here.

Hi-Tech Squash World Championships Manchester 2008

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Tuesday 23 September 2008

Court watch: Surrey Centre for Sport

Artist's impression of the new Surey Centre for SportSTOP PRESS: NEW SQUASH COURTS TO BE BUILT

So just as I was lamenting the possibility that British squash players in 2015 would be reduced to playing in broom cupboards, I chanced upon the proposed Surrey Centre for Sport: 8 squash courts with show courts for 180+ spectators ...

After hearing that there are at least 20 new courts being built just in Cairo, it occurred to me that facilities in Britain seem to be disappearing at an inversely proportional rate.

What with the Sobel and Finsbury Leisure Centres in London under threat, Flint Pavilion in north Wales set to close and clubs in Leicester, Morley, Harrow and the famous Lambs Club all gone or in the process of losing courts, a click on the Provision link at the top of this page does not make for optimistic reading.

The Centre, which will cost £33 million and is due for completion at the end of 2009, has a vision:

"... to build a world-class sports centre at the University of Surrey in Guildford. A centre that provides opportunities for all students, graduates, staff and the local community to access outstanding sporting facilities. A centre where talent is nurtured and where a new generation of athletes can realise its potential."

It is not yet clear how the total cost of the project will be met (especially given what appears to be an ambitious opening date), though a series of events are taking place in order to contribute to funding.

Readers feeling generous can make a donation to the building fund here.

Surrey Centre for Sport

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Thursday 18 September 2008

Barker finds Sweet Home in Chicago

Peter BarkerPete Barker scored the biggest individual win of his career on the PSA tour this week, by defeating David Palmer 15/13, 11/9, 11/2 in the final of the inaugural Sweet Home Chicago Open.

The event was as significant for the US was it was for Barker, being the nation's first-ever professional squash tournament to be held outdoors ...

"It's the best tournament I've ever played. I love playing in America!" Barker commented after lifting the trophy.

On the back of his win the left-hander from Essex will be looking to quickly reclaim a berth in the World top 10 rankings (he curently resides at 12), and his victory bodes well for the upcoming World Open in Manchester.

The Chicago event featured a host of community squash events and exhibitions, including an appearance by Jonathan Power.

As I commented earlier in the year when discussing the Davenport squash tournament, professional squash in the US appears to be attracting a lot of attention, both from sponsors and the media, though my optimism was tempered earlier in the month when I saw that the US Open was to be postponed due of lack of sponsorship.

Left: Video footage of the final, provided by PSAlive.TV.

Sweet Home Chicago Open links


Slide Show:


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Monday 8 September 2008

Court watch: Sobell Leisure Centre

Sobell Leisure Centre - facing demolitionURGENT RESPONSE NEEDED!

Another London squash facility is under immediate threat. The Sobell Leisure Centre in Islington has been earmarked for redevelopment - which would mean the loss of the squash courts there.

Customer Representative Barry Hill ( is meeting with local MP Jeremy Corbyn on 10th September, ahead of the Council Meeting to decide the future of Sobell, and needs your support to bolster the case to save the courts ...

The original plan to knock down Sobell is supported by Liberal Democrat councillors - being led by Councillor Ruth Polling.

All other parties are in favour of either refurbishment or a second stage consultation with refurbishment as an option. The Islington North MP, Mr Jeremy Corbyn, is also against the Centre being knocked down.

A refurbishment plan for Sobell has been produced by Mr Peter Baird on behalf of Mr Gordon Kerr and England Squash.

Mr Hill ( is asking for users and local residents to email him prior to his meeting with Mr Corbyn, indicating their preference from the folowing options:

a. you are in favour of refurbishment
b. you are in favour of a second stage consultation with refurbishment as an option
c. you are in favour of replacing the existing building with a new one.

Please add your name and state whether you are a local resident (address or postcode will be needed) and/or a Sobell user. If a user, please state your main activity/ies.

As previously reported on squashblog, Sobell's sister centre - Finsbury Leisure Centre - is also under threat. With the closure of Lambs Club, squash provision in and around the Square Mile is in danger of becoming limited to private members' clubs.

If you support the retention of the courts at the Sobell Centre, please email Mr Hill before the 10th September.

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Thursday 4 September 2008

Court watch: Flint Pavilion

Squash courtI don't know how many squash courts there are in north Wales, though I hazard a guess that it's not a region flush with provision.

And that number may soon be dwindled further, as the two courts at Flint Pavillion are under threat ...

The courts - dubbed the "Roll's Royce" of Flintshire's squash courts" are due to close in November to make way for a new youth club.

Local player Mike Partridge, who has been playing squash at Flint for more than 30 years, has vowed to fight the plans:

"There is a lot of strong feeling down at the squash courts and I'm not the only dissenting voice by any means ... There are still questions that haven't been answered properly.

"For example, could an alternative venue for the youth club not have been found. And if it has to be at the squash courts, why must we lose both? Can't we keep one court?"

In reponse, Rob Edwards, county youth and community officer for Flintshire Council, has said:

"A site within the Pavilion Leisure Centre in Flint has been identified as a suitable location for a new youth and community centre facility. This will require some alterations to the site, which include the conversion of the squash courts area to an activity hall.

"Officers from the council's leisure services team will be working to accommodate the requirements of squash players at other facilities within the county."

The website link below asks for comments on whether the courts should be saved.

Have your say ... and click here to discuss on squashblog the possible closure of other courts around the country.
Read more about the possible closure of the Flint courts

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