Friday, December 1, 2023

Rod Gilmour’s Doha Diary: PSA to look at new scoring systems to reduce lets and make the game flow


Squash chiefs are looking into ways of stemming the number of lets in tournaments, which could include innovations such as two-point rallies following an appeal.

Lengthy rallies which end with a let and no progression of score have been a talking point in squash, given the competition to attract new eyeballs over other sports. Now, the sport’s administrators are seeking ways to make a better free-flowing squash product for TV audiences.

Squash Mad can reveal that the PSA World Tour could soon trial ways of reducing the amount of lets in games – despite their being a general overall reduction at the top level – which would see players being tactical in when they use them.

At the moment, plans have yet to be tabled, but they could be introduced in the future at events like the Nations Cup, which will see a new best-of-seven games scoring format at the inaugural November event in New Zealand.

A similar trial was used in the very first Canary Wharf Classic almost 20 years ago, when James Willstrop beat Thierry Lincou by four games to two in the inaugural final at the East Wintergarden. That year they played best of five games up to nine points, with the final the best of seven!

Video review process changes

One ruling which is set to be implemented imminently concerns the video review. A new regulation will see players having a set number of reviews across the whole match – four has been mooted – rather than per game.

There is a current issue at men’s elite level, says the PSA, where players are using reviews at the end of games to use up their quota and the raft of stoppages has now become a blight on the game.

The new ruling could be in use at the upcoming CIB Egyptian Open. Players will not receive an extra review at a tie-break, it is understood.

Camille Serme’s social media post about the new PSA Platinum tournament coming to Paris next year

Squash at the Palace

French No 2 Victor Crouin was surprised as anyone to see the recent news that a PSA platinum event is set for Paris next summer. The equal prize money men’s and women’s event is slated for next August at the Palais de Tokyo, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower.

Crouin, who has been a revelation in Qatar, read the post published by Camille Serme and said it was the first he had heard about it.

“We’ve talked about it as players and how a tournament should be in Paris, but we’ve never had the sponsors or the organisers to take it on,” he said.

“It’s a big event and there are security issues behind the scenes. But it’s on the calendar and we hope to have the support from the city of Paris.”

French fans are still waiting for the imminent announcement of the Nantes venue!

Multiple sports are on site at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex, with a new tennis stadium being designed by leading international architects Arup

Squash boost with World Cup staging?

Speaking of Paris, players and officials have been staying at the well-appointed Royal Méridien in Doha this week. Situated at the Parisian-inspired Place Vendôme, buildings have been going up at lightning speed since your diarist was last in Doha, the sound of drilling never far away.

In The Peninsula newspaper, a top Qatar Chamber official said that the looming football World Cup ‘will have a positive effect on Qatar’s long-term growth prospects at various levels.’

Let’s hope that includes the Qatar Classic, which celebrates 30 years of squash in Doha.

With the Khalifa Squash and Tennis complex also set to stage the upcoming Padel World Championships in November, how about combining the two sports in the future for a sort of Qatar Classic mini racket sport festival?

The Momens and the El Sherbinis cheer on the Egyptian football team during the 2018 World Cup, with Mo Salah’s No.10 shirt sported by Tarek and wife Raneem El Welily

Waiting for the big Momen-t

There’s no getting away from the fact there is a Fifa World Cup looming. With around 70 days to go, the city is ramping up for sport’s biggest jamboree. And two PSA players are set to be here for the duration.

Beaten home favourite Abdulla Al-Tamimi is planning to go to as many games as possible, while Tarek Momen, who became world champion in 2019 here, says he hopes “to be here live for the entire World Cup”, depending on his schedule.

Tarek was among a group of Egyptian players who enjoyed watching The Pharaohs compete in Russia four years ago. They cheered them on as they lost 3-1 to the host nation in St Petersburg, with Mo Salah scoring a late consolation penalty.


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