Thursday, February 22, 2024

Cassie’s Corner: World Open wow factor gives hope for the women’s tour

Record crowds as Penang showcases the sport in fine style

lauraCassie Thomas was the last English winner of the Women’s World Open in 1999. Here she offers her congratulations to Laura Massaro and runner-up Nour El Sherbini, and predicts a bright future for the women’s game with new faces at the helm of the WSA Tour. 

Firstly I would like to send my congratulations to Laura Massaro for winning the World Open. A fantastic effort. Also congratulations to Nour El Sherbini for a great tournament.

So, with the 30-year anniversary of WSA, formerly known as WISPA, comes a new president, board and hopefully a bright future for the women’s game.

A bright future that has just been showcased at the World Open in Penang. A fantastic opening ceremony, record breaking crowds and some top quality matches.

So what I can see so far it has been a encouraging start. Having Tommy Berden on board with his NextSquash company is a positive step.

He is spoken of highly within squash circles with fantastic experience in organising and promoting events and has a great insight into the women’s game what with being married to Natalie Grinham.

Having a quick glance at the calendar there seems to be a few more tournaments with April being a busy month. Lets hope this continues with a good mixture of differing prize money events. Of course it is difficult to get the right balance of tournaments as you want to cater for all the players through out the rankings and this is something the board will be aware of and working towards.

So what is available for the up and coming players? Looking at the calendar there seems to be quite a few small prize money events for them.

Unfortunately in the past, due to the lack of tournaments, these have been becoming increasingly strong but with more events coming on the calendar hopefully that won’t be the case.

There are an excellent series of $5,000 events in Australia as well as the $15,000 Victorian Open, which provide the Australian players, as well as any other player that wants to compete, the chance to gain valuable world ranking points and experience.

There are also a series of events in Malaysia, South Africa and North America so these are giving excellent opportunities to players around the world.

Like I said these provide world ranking points but unfortunately the prize money probably won’t cover the expenses of flights, accommodation, food etc. I think most players starting out know that financially it could be tough for a while, so what can they do to cope with that in the early years?

Having a part-time job is an option. This was the case for me. When I left school at 16 and decided I wanted to play professionally the husband of my coach Alex Cowie gave me a part-time job in his insurance company in Norwich.

This gave me the extra income and I was lucky it worked round my training and tournaments. I will always be grateful for that office job and after two years I was a dab hand at filing and photocopying!

I do realise not every part-time job is as flexible so coaching is another option and also depending on the set up in each individual country there might be funding from their National Association.

These are, of course, options and something to think about when making the decision to give it a go!

No doubt there will be players who will turn their back on the game for a regular income job and that is understandable.
WSA have the task of making sure this doesn’t happen too often and the up and coming players of today are the future champions of tomorrow.


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