THE BLOG

Brilliant Win for England's Massaro in the Wimbledon of Squash

03/06/2013 15:43 BST | Updated 01/08/2013 10:12 BST

Laura Massaro last weekend became the first women's English winner of the British Open since Lisa Opie, who in 1991 against the odds, won at a time when Susan Devoy of New Zealand was such a dominant force.

Massaro's sensational and memorable victory echoes that of Opie's all those years ago in that she too, in winning the most prestigious title of them all, has had to overcome one of the greatest and most dominant squash players of all time.

Not many would have bet against the imperious Nicol David of Malaysia, the world number one, four times British Open and seven time world champion, winning the title at a sunny KC stadium in Hull. Massaro's improvement in the last year or so has been a significant challenge to David, so much so that she has snatched away more than one major title from her recently, including winning in Kuala Lumpur in March.

David's record in the British and the Worlds though is impeccable, and the brick wall often becomes harder to break down.

But after years of effort, and dedication to honing her craft, Massaro put it all in to practice, and gave a performance of enormous poise and grit to snuff out the Malaysian in four games. I can't say what a difficult task winning a British Open is; every player fights so hard to achieve it and dreams about doing so. This is as good as it gets for Massaro, a golden time for her. Very well done.

Ramy Ashour made it one whole year unbeaten by winning the men's title for the first time, and that statistic alone should, if it weren't for Massaro's achievement, take all the headlines in many respects. He beat Greg Gaultier of France 3-1 in a tense final.

Perhaps the final word should go to Dr Assem Allam and everybody who worked so hard to put this brilliant event on.

Dr. Allam is not your average sporting benefactor. Owner of Hull City FC, newly promoted to the premier league, he is a genuine sports fan who is desperate to give back to the Yorkshire City he calls home. He watched almost every match last week and clearly loves squash. He is a dignified, kind man who is not just doing this for attention. It clearly means so much to him, and his support of the greatest tournament of them all means so much to everyone involved in the game. Hats off to Dr. Allam....

James' book, 'Shot and a Ghost' is available to buy at willstrop.co.uk or on kindle