The first item on the agenda for the new year column is to reflect on the Women's World Open Championships. It was a late finish for the girls, the final being played on 21 December, and the event didn't disappoint.
The women's tour, the WSA, has an increasingly competitive look about it. Standing at the top of the list is one of the game's all time great players, and possibly its most valuable asset: Nicol David is a celebrity in her home country, Malaysia, and she won her seventh World title in the Grand Cayman Islands.
The challenges to David are coming thicker and faster than they ever have before: Raneem el Weleily is a seriously good squash player who exhibits a typically fluid Egyptian style and behind her an exciting team of younger Egyptian compatriots Nour El Sherbini and Nour El Tayeb are doing damage to the pecking order. Additionally, Omneya Abdel Kawy has thundered back in to form just in time to help Egypt take the World Team title last year. Laura Massaro, ranked three on the world list, leads the English charge at present, and she reached the final in Grand Cayman, beating Weleily in a tie-break in the deciding game of their semi. Yorkshire girl Jenny Duncalf has hit good form recently and she lost out to David in the semis after beating teammate Alison Waters in the quarters, who has herself enjoyed a positive period of rejuvenation since enduring a year's worth of nasty injury problems.
From the east the threats come from Hong Kong's Annie Au and Low Wee Wern, David's Malaysian compatriot; Joelle King from New Zealand is winning tournaments, and France's Camille Serme is on an upward curve. More experienced campaigners Rachael and Natalie Grinham, and Ireland's Madeleine Perry aren't going anywhere either, and stubbornly maintain their level. All this depth is making for a very interesting women's tour.
Both the women and men were straight back in last week for the World Series Finals, at the Queen's club in London. David retained her title beating Laura Massaro 3-0 in the final. It was the second year in a row that Sky (and this year Eurosport) televised the semis and finals live. Notably Massaro did notch up another win over David in the group stages though.
I lost in the best-of-three semi finals 2-1 to Amr Shabana, who beat Nick Matthew 3-1 to win the title.
Next stop for the men and women is New York City.Suggest a correction