For every Nick Matthew, we need 10,000 players like Stan
COMMENT: By ALAN THATCHER
Let me tell you a story about my little mate Stan. Actually he’s not quite so little. He’s a big lad who plays for the juniors at another club in our town.
He joined in the free coaching sessions we are laying on for local school children all this week during the Select Gaming Kent Open at the Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, a PSA world-ranking tournament that brings so many talented players to the county town.
Yesterday was Stan’s birthday, so one of the dads arranged for a Kent Open shirt to be printed up with Stan’s name on the name on the back.
A lot of the professionals happily signed it, and we presented it to Stan after he had gone on court for a fun game with Youssef Abdalla (right).
It turned out to be a real birthday treat. As Youssef was playing local hero James Evans in the evening, he was roundly booed every time he touched the ball. Stan won the game 14-12 in a dramatic tiebreak.
Everyone cheered as Stan was presented with his shirt and happily shared a big chocolate birthday cake afterwards.
Stan may never become a world number one, but he is just as valuable to the game as the high achievers in the county squads.
When I try to imagine Stan’s development pathway, I have a picture in my mind of Stan playing for the men’s third team in a few years’ time, having a lot of fun doing so (just like he did yesterday), and propping up the bar afterwards, sharing stories of wins and tins, mis-hits and master-strokes.
Looking after great guys like Stan is just as important as investing all the time, money and energy into producing elite players.
For every Nick Matthew, we need 10,000 players like Stan to keep the game alive.