Thursday, November 30, 2023

Alan’s Blog: More plaudits for Nicol David, Linda Elriani goes the extra mile, and did racquetball kill Elvis Presley?

Tributes pour in for Malaysian superstar after 100 months at the top of her game 

Nicol David’s astonishing achievement of topping the WSA rankings for 100 months has  generated a mountain of headlines back home in Malaysia.

Tributes poured in from throughout the world as she further cemented her place in the squash history books with this unique landmark. The Malaysian superstar had already become the first woman or man to hold the No. 1 ranking unopposed for more than eight years.

Now 31, David first reached the top of the rankings in January 2006, when aged 22. After slipping to No. 2 in April, the Malaysian reclaimed pole position in August 2006 and has stayed there ever since.

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, said: “What a great achievement. Nicol continues to be a great inspiration for Malaysian sport.

“Her attitude, commitment, sportsmanship and professionalism have made her a living legend in our country. Many congratulations to a great champion and wonderful human being.”

David Mui, President of the Asian Squash Federation (ASF), added: “Every one of us at ASF is very proud of Nicol for her historic achievement in the squash world and we believe that as a role model she will keep inspiring numerous youngsters making squash as their career. We wish her to continue to make history in the coming future.”

Former players also weighed in on David’s latest achievement. Liz Irving, a former World No. 2, was full of pride for her star pupil, having been her coach for over a decade since the Malaysian relocated to Amsterdam to work under the Australian.

“It has been an amazing journey working with Nicol,” Irving said. “Her preparation and professionalism stand alone. I feel very privileged to be a part of it. Being 100 months as World No. 1 is a real testament to her drive and dedication to the sport.”

Sarah Fitz-Gerald, a former World No. 1 who has worked with David throughout her career along with Irving, was another Australian to heap praise on the No. 1, having witnessed David better her then-record of five world titles in 2011.

“What an amazing champion this young lady is – 100 months and still going strong,” Fitz-Gerald said. “If records aren’t crashing, she’s creating them!” 

Tommy Berden, CEO of the WSA, has seen many of Nicol David’s major performances up close. As husband of top Aussie player Natalie Grinham, now a Dutch resident, Berden has promoted several events where David has swept the board in a career that includes a record seven World Championships among 77 WSA World Tour titles.

“To be the No. 1 in the world for 100 consecutive months is simply remarkable, in particular taking into consideration that she is only 31 years young,” Berden said. “Nicol’s achievements are unique within the global sporting community and it’s great for the sport to have an ambassador like her.”  

Nicol herself posted on Facebook: These last 100 months have been the most amazing through this journey of my life! This has been achieved amidst lots of ups and downs, and results from a lot of hard work and persistence–not only by me, but especially by my coach Liz, who has mentored me every step of the way and keeps me going up till today, along with the great team behind me.

“There is still so much more I want to achieve and I want to keep going and going. Thank you everyone, for standing by me through my journey.” Her post attracted more than 10,000 likes!

The Penangite, who withdrew from the ongoing TC National Championships due to a back injury, still turned up with Sharon Wee to support the Fit Malaysia project.  

Sources: and The Star online 


Linda always goes the extra mile

Linda Elriani celebrates finishing the New York marathon
Linda Elriani celebrates finishing the New York marathon

Huge congratulations to Linda Elriani, Squash Director at Heights Casino in Brooklyn, for completing the New York Marathon.

The former England international told her Facebook fans and friends: “The NY marathon was such an amazing experience! The atmosphere was electric and New Yorkers are the best at cheering you on:-) I ran very slowly and was very sore in the end, but I enjoyed every minute:-) I think was smiling most of the way because of the crowds:-) so pleased to have checked it off my bucket list.

“Thanks so much to Laurent, my Jacky Boy, Carol, Rubia, Albert, Annelize and Kim for all coming out on a cold windy day to cheer me on. It’s really appreciated and gave me such a boost when I saw them. Thanks so much as well to John, who gave me the best massage ever this evening. I may now be able to walk tomorrow.”


elvisrbDid racquetball
kill The King?

Did raquetball kill Elvis Presley? According to an article in the Dallas News, Elvis was an enthusiastic racquetball player who built a court at his Graceland mansion in Memphis.

Apparently, on the day he died (August 16, 1977) he woke early (he was a notoriously bad sleeper) and called his cousin, Billy Smith, at 4am and asked him if he wanted to play racquetball.

After an hour on court, he retired to his own racquetball lounge and played around on his piano. The last song he ever played was Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”. 

By 12 noon the King was dead of massive heart failure. 

For the full story, click here 

For an amazing account of Elvis’s Memphis Mafia racquetball buddies, click here

The article states that Elvis walloped the ball around the court like he was strumming a guitar for the fun of it. He looked like he was on stage except with the racquet , the moves in the court comparable to his gyrations onstage. His guitar became more of a prop, and so did his racquet.

Sadly, Elvis’s eminence grise Colonel Parker wouldn’t let him be photographed on his beloved private court because his flab would shake, rattle and roll to his PR disadvantage.

The first account reports that Elvis caught the racquetball bug when he learned that there were six amazing racquetball courts at Ray and Clare Stern’s Health Center in Dallas, located on Forest Lane, half a block west of Preston Road.

On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 8, 1975, Elvis left Graceland and headed to Memphis Aero, where his Lockheed JetStar waited. (It would be another month before he took delivery of his more famous plane, the converted airliner he named Lisa Marie.)

On the tail was his logo, a lightning bolt and the letters TCB, which stood for Taking Care of Business.

With him was his girlfriend, Jo Cathy Brownlee, and his inner circle known as the Memphis Mafia.

As darkness fell over Dallas, the JetStar landed at Addison Airport around 8 p.m.

Elvis came down the stairs wearing standard Elvis gear — bulky, smoke-lens glasses and a long gabardine topcoat with wide lapels over a high-collared shirt.

Having been alerted that Elvis was coming, Ray and Clare Stern dispatched three cars to the airport. Soon, the little motorcade arrived at the health club on Forest Lane, and Elvis, Jo Cathy and the boys all stepped out.

As he inspected the club, the King was clearly impressed with the air-conditioned courts with their Plexiglas walls.

Always ready to buy something, Elvis purchased five sweatsuits at the club for $45 each.

By 8:45 p.m., he was out the door and on his way back to his JetStar at Addison Airport. That evening, he was back at Graceland.

Within a few months, he became a partner in a doomed venture to build a national chain of racquetball clubs called Presley Center Courts.





Pictures from Squash Mad archive 

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