Squash’s great ambassador targets more titles in a busy year ahead
By LEE HORTON – Squash Mad Chief Reporter
Nicol David exited New York last weekend with a smile the size of Brooklyn Bridge. Her first Tournament of Champions title and a tidy winner’s cheque was the perfect antidote to a sub-zero Big Apple that more resembled Siberia than east coast USA.
But titles and prize money are not the only reason behind the world number one’s feeling of goodwill and contentment.
As she reveals to Squash Mad’s Lee Horton, she is still wildly in love with squash and retains an insatiable desire to improve despite dominating the women’s game for nearly a decade.
Here, she gives us an insight into her thoughts and feelings with a Q&A straight from the heart.
1. What is your number one target for 2014?
There is no single target because there are many events happening on top of the WSA Tour including the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World teams, plus two World Championships. The important thing is to keep my body healthy and ready in preparation for each event throughout the year.
2. Do you think squash is suffering because of the decision by the IOC not to include it in the Olympics?
I think our bid campaign actually stepped up the visibility of squash in many forms in fighting it’s case to be included in the Olympics. The new IOC president has hinted that they may still allow new sports into 2020 but that’s the only thing we’ve heard so far. A lot of it is out of our hands.
3. How long do you think you can stay at world number one?
As long as I can keep to the intensity I’m at according to how my body reacts in the long run.
4. What is the best part of the game for you?
The challenge that every small detail can somehow make a huge difference once it is identified the longer we play this sport. However, it’s always a constant work-in-progress because of the complexity of the sport.
5. And what about the worst?
The pain that goes with the training but at the end, it all pays off when it comes together. I’m enjoying squash more now than I’ve ever had!
6. Laura Massaro beat you a couple of times last year, what has she changed in her game that made that happen?
The players step their game up with me every time and for her and others that have beaten me, they were the better player on the day by enforcing their game. When you’re in the top 10, everyone is just as strong and capable that’s why I know I have to always work harder to keep on top of my game.
7. Who is the best young player we should look out for in 2014?
Most of the Egyptian girls have potential but there’s too many to choose from the pack. Also, it’s great seeing that Nour El Sherbini is back and if Amanda Sobhy is playing more WSA events outside of her university commitments, then I feel these girls will take things on.
8. Should the PSA and WSA merge as one entity?
PSA and WSA should stay just the way they are as their own. As long as both the PSA and WSA encourage each other in tournaments and maintain their identities as separate bodies working towards raising the profile of squash then everybody is on the right track. The best step that US squash has done is bringing in equal prize money at the US Open in 2013 and that proves that we can work together to gain a wider audience for squash.
By maintaining our stand as WSA, the women players will have opportunities like the women athletes in tennis and golf to show their best qualities representing women in sport just from their performance and display of top women’s squash. Our product translates in many ways than one.
10. Would there be a danger of the women’s game being overshadowed by the men?
If we stay as PSA and WSA then there wouldn’t be any form of being overshadowed by the men. The women’s squash identity has to be secured through WSA and it should stay that way.
11. And finally do you have a message for all your Squash Mad friends who follow you?
Thanks for your support throughout my squash career and keep enjoying squash and sharing squash with others.
Pictures courtesy of Steve Line (Tournament of Champions) and the Squash Mad archive