Hosts France bid for World Teams breakthrough In Marseille
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad International Correspondent
Appearing in the championship for the ninth time in a row, illustrious Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will be aiming to win the only major title that has so far eluded him and his country when he leads France in the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship on home soil next week in Marseille.
The 25th staging of the biennial World Squash Federation event will take place from November 27 to December 3 at Salle Vallier, where the final stages will be presented on an all-glass showcourt, and Modern Squash throughout, which also features an all-glass showcourt.
France – runners-up in 2003 and 2009, with Gaultier playing in the final on both occasions – are the third seeds, behind favourites Egypt and second seeds England, the title-holders.
In a glittering international career, Gaultier has collected 40 PSA World Tour titles, including the individual World Championship trophy in 2015 and three British Open and US Open crowns, and became the world’s oldest world number one this year.
Two years ago, after 14 successive defeats to England in the European Team Championships final, Gaultier finally led France to historic success over their fierce regional rivals – and repeated the title triumph earlier this year.
France made their World Team Championship debut in 1981 and have reached the semi-finals each time since 2003.
“Winning the World Teams is the only big thing missing in my highlights,” said 34-year-old Gaultier on the eve of the 2017 event. “We came close twice – we did well most of the time but never touched gold yet.
“We have a good team with true friends and good fighting spirit – we have always tried hard for our country and each other. Hopefully this time will be the right one!”
With a squad also including Gregoire Marche, Mathieu Castagnet and Lucas Serme – ranked 23, 30 and 45, respectively, in the world – France begin their 2017 campaign with qualifying ties against Ireland and Canada in Pool C, before hoping to move onto the last 16 knockout stages.
With the likelihood of Paris 2024 organisers looking for new sports to add to the Olympic Games programme in seven years, squash is enjoying an all-time high in France this year with Gaultier topping the men’s world rankings, compatriot Camille Serme at No.3 in the women’s list, and the country winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Games in Poland in July.
Twenty four nations will contest the WSF Men’s World Team Championship in France, where both Iraq and Jamaica will be making their debuts in the event. After qualifying action in eight pools, the top two teams in each pool will progress to the last 16 knockout stage, while the third-placed teams will play for positions 17-24.
Free live streaming, provided by Squash TV, will be available from the glass courts at both venues – via the event website www.wsfmensteams.com/
In addition to this will be local coverage of the event, from Friday 1st December, via the streaming platform of the FRANCE TELEVISIONS group.
WSF Men’s WSF World Team Championship 2017, Salle Vallier, Marseille, France (November 27-December 3, 2017).
Pool line-ups (with seeding in brackets):
Pool A:  EGYPT,  SWITZERLAND,  PAKISTAN
Pool B:  ENGLAND,  FINLAND,  ARGENTINA
Pool C:  FRANCE,  CANADA,  IRELAND
Pool D:  AUSTRALIA,  WALES,  CZECH REPUBLIC
Pool E:  HONG KONG CHINA,  SPAIN,  IRAQ
Pool F:  NEW ZEALAND,  USA,  SOUTH AFRICA
Pool G:  GERMANY,  SCOTLAND,  JAMAICA
Pool H:  INDIA,  MALAYSIA,  AUSTRIA
Official event website: www.wsfmensteams.com
Picture courtesy of PSA