Malcolm on the Worlds

Malcolm Willstrop’s final preview/tournament roundup …

Following Norman Farthing’s top class presentation of the World Team Championships in Paderborn, here was another promotional success.  Tommy Berden, unobtrusive, friendly, approachable and seemingly unfazed, he and his team deserve much credit.

The Luxor Theatre was a magnificent venue, up there with the most spectacular of squash’s venues, crowds ranging from 1,000 to a capacity 1,500 every day.

Good, too, for the championships that Dutch pair, Laurens Jan Anjema and Natalie Grinham performed so well, Anjema coming close to beating Gregory Gaultier.

Another plus for the Dutch was former World and Dutch No 1 Vanessa Atkinson’s debut as a presenter.  Immediately at ease, adding a touch of the necessary glamour the game needs, asking the players the right questions, she was an instant success, receiving approval from many quarters.

The advances the women’s game has made since it took up 11 scoring are plain to see; finely tuned athletes, with a role model in Nicol David, playing marvellous squash – the David – Kasey Brown match being just one example of that.

There are happily a host of very attractive young male and female players: Nour El Tayeb, Raneem El Weleily, Nour El Sherbini, Annie Au, Dipika Pallikal, Nicolas Müller, Max Lee, the Shorbagy brothers, all with assured futures – good for the future of the game.

Interesting and unusual these days that all men’s seeds reached the quarter finals, though 5 of the 8 had 5 setters in the last sixteen.

Sad to see Ramy Ashour injured again and having to concede as he did in Saudi Arabia.  It is to be hoped he sorts out his injury problems – the game needs him.

I’ve never been at a major event when the score has been called wrongly so many times and often taken two or three attempts to call it correctly. Getting it right after video reviews seems to add to what surely should not be a problem.

I can’t remember any player receiving the send off David Palmer had on his final appearance. Beautifully managed, with his wife and children awaiting him at the end of his lap of honour, it was a fitting tribute.  It’s to be hoped he doesn’t make a Sinatra like comeback, since he’s unlikely to match the occasion

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