A tribute evening will pay homage to the French General at the opening of the Nantes tournament
By JAMES ROBERTS (Squash Mad Correspondent)
Squash legend Gregory Gaultier, who announced his retirement from the international circuit in October 2021, boasts the finest playing record in French squash history, consisting of 44 PSA titles, including three US Opens, three British Opens and one World Championship Title, secured in 2015 after three previous final defeats.
The 39-year-old also holds the record for the most matches played in the modern era (758) and the most consecutive months (154) in the world’s top 10.
Gaultier is keeping himself fit by playing in the French League and is launching his coaching career at the highest level by working with superstars Nour El Sherbini and Mohamed ElShorbagy.
His stellar career will be celebrated at the opening of the Open de France in Nantes, which returns on September 12 after an absence of two years.
It is taking place this year at a location that remains a closely guarded secret. All we know at this stage is that it will be somewhere on the ‘Ile de Nantes’, an island located on the River Loire in the centre of the city.
Two recently retired English squash stars, namely triple world champion Nick Matthew and his long-standing friend and England team-mate Daryl Selby, are travelling to Nantes to help pay tribute to the undisputed national hero of French squash.
The tribute night will start at around 9pm, after the conclusion of the evening tournament matches. Gaultier will be introduced to the crowd, following which a short video about his career will be played and an interview conducted.
A double exhibition match will then ensue, pitting Gaultier and a young, upcoming French player against Matthew and Selby.
Like the location of the tournament, the identity of Gaultier’s French team-mate is also a closely guarded secret, although the organisers have revealed that at previous editions of the Nantes tournament, he has undertaken the role of court cleaner!
The exhibition matches will feature a novel format, consisting of four timed games of 10 minutes duration, rather than the usual 11 points.
This should make things interesting, especially if the ‘wily old foxes’ employ any time-wasting tactics, should they find themselves in the lead. Targets will also be placed on the walls, offering two or three points if they are hit.
If the match ends level at two games all, there will be a points countback to declare the winning team. The match will be followed by a cocktail buffet.
There are still a few tickets left for this celebratory evening, priced at 54 Euros including cocktail buffet, which can be obtained on the event ticketing website here: http://www.opensquashnantes.fr/informations/billetterie,49.html
The Open de France in Nantes is taking place from September 12-17 at a secret location on the Ile de Nantes. More information can be obtained on the tournament website: http://www.opensquashnantes.fr/
Related article: Coll and Serme win Nantes 2019 titles
Pictures courtesy of Nathan Clarke (PSA) and Squash Mad archives