Bristol is a brilliant, vibrant city of squash
By ROSANNA RADLINSKA – Squash Mad Correspondent in Bristol
Welcome to our new Squash City Blog, where we focus on the squash community in cities the world over. We’ve decided to start at the top, in Bristol, the training base for world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy.
End of a superb squash season in Bristol
Bristol has certainly marked its presence on the squash map over the past few years. There have been several reasons for that like excellent squash facilities in the city including clubs, universities, the Elite Squash coaching, the University of the West of England, with its support programme for squash players, and finally professional players who chose Bristol as their main base for training.
Squash scene set-up
One word would not be enough to describe Bristol squash scene’s set-up. There are BaD Squash- which stands for Avon and Bristol & District Squash (www.badsquash.co.uk), a local league where all clubs are involved, a PSL (Premier Squash League) team, and all the activities at the University of the West of England.
Mixed, women’s and men’s teams compete during autumn, winter, spring and summer fixtures. University of the West of England (UWE) supports professional squash players in pursuing their academic goals while playing competitive squash, and also is the main sponsor of the Premier Squash League Elite/UWE Bristol team.
The pups and squashlets, as we call them, are aspiring pro squash players but also club players who simply love the game. They can be found at Bristol Lawn Tennis and Squash Club in Redland- 30 training regularly with Rose Bamber, at Vivo Sports Club in Welshback – 60 trained by John Welton, Richard King, Charlotte Weldrake, and Hadrian Stiff, The Lansdown Club in Bath – 26 trained by Richard Coleman and Charlotte Weldrake, and at Weston Squash and Racketball Club in Weston-super-Mare – 15 trained by Sally Thomson.
There is the Elite Squash Academy, run by Hadrian Stiff, where most of the highly ranked juniors train (www.elitesquash.co.uk) and it is based at the Vivo Sport Club.
They are lucky to have such amazing provision in terms of coaches, clubs as well as many professional squash players that can be watched live as they train or play in the PSL.
This started six years ago when Elite Squash and the University of the West of England launched a partnership which led to the offer of academic and squash training for professional squash players.
The Elshorbagy brothers came as a ‘package’ accompanied by Lucas Serme, Antonio De la Torre, Roshan Barros, and in the last academic year another amazing shot-maker, Joshua Masters, who recently returned home to Kent and beat the top seed Jens Schoor in the first round of the Select Gaming Kent Open.
As a result, the UWE men’s first team was promoted to Premier Division in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) League at the end 2013-2014 season and now staying at the top of the table.
Mohamed Elshorbagy was shortlisted as a candidate for the BUCS Sportsman of Year Award in 2015.
Elite Squash also work with non-studying pros just to mention Alex Noakes, Mike Harris, Tom Ford, and Sam Ellis.
We need to watch this space as the number of professional players in Bristol will be growing.
British Open celebration
Vivo Sports Club, Elite Squash and Basma Hassan (yes, the Mother ☺) have all participated in the preparation of the British Open 2015 Champion welcoming party at Vivo. The Bristol squash community gathered at Vivo on May 22nd to celebrate this incredible achievement.
Mohamed Elshorbagy came to the club together with his mother Basma and brother Marwan. Simon Parke was also present to add some flavour to the atmosphere in the club.
There were speeches, cakes and music with most people attending taking as many pictures as possible with the star of the evening (some selfies, too).
Hadrian Stiff said: “We came together to celebrate and also to thank Mohamed for what he’s done.” He also added “Really, my kind of bit about this is to thank him personally from me but also on behalf of the squash community for his success on the squash court, and also the effect he has had on squash in Bristol.”
The event made some media coverage in our local newspaper where squash has not been featured on a regular basis, but there is hope that it will be mentioned more often.
It was a great end to a great season. Now, everybody is enjoying their well-deserved summer break before the serious summer training starts.