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ToC as a Sign of Things to Come; Plus, a World Championship in NYC?

First off, a hearty Glückwünsche! to Simon Rosner. He’s been knocking on the door for years now, and finally he’s crossed the edge and received a main title. The professional tour is lucky to be populated with tons genuinely good individuals (together with the opposite males’s finalist, Tarek Momen), however Rosner is correct on the high of the listing. I don’t suppose anybody predicted him to win, and I don’t suppose there’s anybody who isn’t blissful to see him take the title. That’s a pleasing mixture of traits for a ToC Champion.

Rosner is the primary unseeded participant to win the ToC in the 21 years it’s been performed at Grand Central. His victory could possibly be the harbinger of a new, extra wide-open area in future ToCs and different males’s PSA tournaments.

For as lengthy as I’ve been paying consideration to professional squash, the lads’s sport has tended to be dominated by a handful of gamers—three or 4 guys who travel successful the massive tournaments, plus perhaps a half dozen extra who nip at their heels. It feels now just like the top-talent pool is getting larger.

Along with Rosner’s win, the headline story of the lads’s ToC draw was Ryan Cuskelly, at present ranked #15, beating the most well liked participant on the tour, world champion Mohamed ElShorbagy. You simply don’t see upsets like that day-after-day, and it was a shock, nevertheless it wasn’t a fluke. As you watched the match unfold, you can see that Cuskelly was each bit ElShorbagy’s equal. He’s not even ranked in the highest 10, however put him on a courtroom with any participant in the world and Cuskelly stands a honest likelihood of successful.

Another telltale match was Momen’s first-round win over Mohamed Abouelghar. For my cash, that nail-biter, determined 12-10 in the fifth, was the match of the event. (Yes, even higher than Gaultier-Matthew.) Abouelghar clearly is on equal footing with Momen, and if he’d managed to come out on high in that tight battle, it’s by no means unlikely that he may have taken the identical path Momen did all the way in which to the ultimate. And there are a bunch of different gamers—most, however not all, younger; most, however not all, Egyptian—who’re rising threats to win the massive titles.

On the ladies’s aspect, it seems to be like issues are headed in the other way. The 5 main tournaments of the season to this point have all featured two of three Egyptians in the finals: the ToC winner Nour El Sherbini, ToC finalist Nour El Tayeb, and Raneem El Welily. There’s at present a distance between these three ladies and each different feminine squash participant in the world—although the three instantly behind them, Camille Serme, Laura Massaro, and Nouran Gohar, are all the time combating to shut the hole.

There are different younger Egyptians in the pipeline, however none of them have fairly the aura of dominance that the Big Three had as they entered the professional ranks out of the juniors. El Sherbini and El Tayeb are nonetheless in the early phases of their careers. Their names are possible to be filling up area on the ToC trophy for the subsequent decade or extra.

The present X issue is Amanda Sobhy. Throughout her junior years she was the rival and sometimes the equal of El Sherbini and El Tayeb. If she makes a full restoration from her Achilles’ tendon damage, she may rise to their degree once more. I like the Egyptians and revel in watching them play, however I hope 2018 would be the yr of the good Sobhy revival.

And, to Wrap Things Up, a Big Idea

My last thought for this yr’s weblog feels too monumental to be buried down on the backside of the web page, however right here goes anyway.

For the previous week I’ve been utilizing the time period “world champion” time and again in match previews: “current world champion Raneem El Welily,” “three-time word champion Nick Matthew,” and so on. Every time I sort these two phrases, it triggers a thought in the again of my thoughts: Why isn’t the ToC the World Championship?

The World Championship venue adjustments from yr to yr, and typically it’s on the location of an annual tour occasion. The ToC has a buzz like no different event in squash—yearly the stands are crammed from Day 1, and gamers say time and again that that is the one time through the season once they really feel like real sports activities stars. Why not, for one yr, take advantage of enjoyable, most fun, most intense event additionally essentially the most prestigious one?

There are logistical points (some that I’m conscious of, and others I’m certain as properly) that make this a tall order. Also, perhaps the recognition of the ToC offers it its personal distinctive status that doesn’t require the added luster of a World Championship designation.

Further reflection leads to a extra common, presumably extra possible concept: Bring the World Championship to New York. It could be a one-off occasion, like final yr’s event in Manchester, or the 2015 championship in Seattle—the primary ever on American soil. New York’s infatuation with squash goes past Grand Central. John Nimick and his group are essentially the most seasoned occasion organizers in the sport. Challenge them to provide you with one other nice venue and see what they’ll do.

–Matt Lombardi

 

 

 


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