Hull lot of wonderful memories of the world’s greatest tournament
Ever since I was a junior I have loved the British Open. It started when I went to watch it at the Wembley Conference Centre in the years of domination imposed by Jahangir Khan and Susan Devoy.
It was a fantastic set-up at Wembley which produced a wonderful atmosphere both courtside and outside among the stands and eateries.
I remember thinking wouldn’t it be great to play in front of all these people, and a few years later I was fortunate to do so. It didn’t disappoint, especially the support and the atmosphere.
I would dearly have loved to have won the “Wimbledon of Squash” especially being an English player. You always want to win your own country’s Open tournament and with it being one of the prestigious tournaments on the calendar it had that extra special meaning.
Unfortunately, over the years and many attempts it never happened, and as much as I loved the tournament it probably has brought me my biggest disappointments.
When you lose in any final you are gutted, but I clearly remember to this day how upset I was losing in the final in Aberdeen in 1999.
I felt I was playing the best squash I had played having just won the World Open and thought this was probably my best chance.
In the final I came up against an inspired Leilani Joyce, who beat me 3-1 and deservedly took the Edinburgh Crystal trophy back to New Zealand.
The following year in Birmingham was a big disappointment, but in a different way. Going into the event ranked No.1, I thought or maybe hoped that this was my year.
During my match against Vanessa Atkinson my left leg went dead with no power in it to push off and, unbeknown to me, was the beginning of my back problems that eventually ended my career.
So, as I write this a bit older, or I should say a lot older and hopefully a little wiser, I think ‘You silly sod, getting so upset over a squash match’.
Now I can look back and realise that it just wasn’t meant to be, and I remember with great affection the experiences and matches that I played over the years.
It is great to see the British Open on the big stage where it should be. The set-up in Hull looks great and the players look like they have been entertaining the crowds with their skill and athleticism.
There have been some great matches so far and you still have the finals to come. I wish all the players good luck for the rest of the tournament. I am sure they are enjoying the atmosphere as much as I did.
Pictures from the Squash Mad archive