Squash Tips click
Never Ever Give Up
from Peter Nicol
This week sees the start of the US
Open in Philadelphia which made me reminisce back to my playing the
event - from Brown University in 1994 through to my final appearance at
Symphony Hall, Boston in 2004. The event has changed dramatically in
that time, starting as a smaller prize-money and regular court event to
what is now a World Series event with glass court in a 2,000 seat
auditorium. I played in Rhode Island, Minnesota and Boston with my
favourite moments and memories coming in the latter venue. I wanted to
share some stories from my time playing the event, if I can remember
that far back now – they started 19 years ago!
I headed to Brown University in Rhode Island to play in my first US Open
and was excited to play what was then a smaller event than others I was
playing in at the time. The plan between my coach, Neil Harvey and I,
was to get back into winning ways after some successful but ultimately
fruitless events in terms of winning – a certain Jansher Khan was just a
little too good at that time and I was having problems defeating Rodney
Eyles as well. Although still a tough draw, none of the top 3 players
were present so that left me in pole position to get the win I really
My first real test was against Adrian Davies, known as the Welsh Wizard.
He had been as high as 10 in the ranking but was prone to fluctuations
in fitness levels but certainly understood how to play squash. I rapidly
went down 2-0 and my only thought was what a disaster this had been –
best laid plans and preparation only to fail in the first round!
However, as Adrian started to slow down physically, I turned up the pace
and after a tense and close 3rd game, I went on to win comfortably in 5.
It was another reminder (and one I talk a lot about today) that the
match is over the course of 5 games and it doesn't matter how outplayed
or embarrassed you may be initially; there are normally always solutions
and opportunities down the line, you just have to be aware and ready to
take advantage of them – keep focussed and alert to the possibilities!
The next two rounds were tough but uneventful as I made my way to the
final to come up against Chris Walker (English team captain and highest
world ranking of 4) in an all left handed affair. I remember a company
trialling a camera in the front of the court and thought to myself how
cool it was to be involved in something so new and revolutionary(!).
Chris and I had a ding dong battle that went all the way, with my
finally winning in a close 5th game to become US Open Champion – the
first major title in my career.
I've thought a lot about the first round and my match against Adrian
Davies and how marginal differences change games, matches and careers. I
had another one not long after in 1997, when having thought I lost in
the first round of the British Open (again!) the referee made a decision
which kept me in the match. I eventually won that match and then went on
to lose in the final against Jansher Khan in over 2hours. There are so
many others I can remember throughout my career and other players around
me but I do notice one particular trait of players who take advantage of
those situations – they always believe and never, ever give up. I'm sure
this year's US Open will see many close matches but will there be one
that changes a career?
Part two next week with my favourite matches played at the US Open –
Rodney Eyles in 1997 & Jonathon Power in 2001/2
With thanks to Squash Skills