The first squash action after the summer break commenced over the last week or two across various parts of the globe. Gregory Gaultier won his seventh European Individual Championship in Herentals in Belgium, beating Germany's Simon Rosner in the final and Camille Serme won the women's title beating Natalie Grinham making it a French double.
I was in Boston with Nick Matthew, Mohamed El Shorbagy and Amr Shabana for the Showdown at Symphony Hall in the downtown area of the city a couple of weekends back. It is a one off event played in the most magnificent of venues, with a unique format played out in just one evening. An England v Egypt scenario, each player plays the other for best of three, and in the event of a decider the third game is played either to one point or three, chosen by the winner of the first game. All four matches went to a decider, perfect material for the big crowd. After losing the first two matches, Nick and I both managed to recover to reverse the scores in the second two, giving England the win. A couple of clinics with juniors from around the vicinity completed a great weekend in Boston, despite the fact we had learned of the IOC's latest rejection of squash in to the Olympics.
And last weekend the CIMB Malaysian Open threw up some notable results. Harrogate based Chris Simpson took out top seed Karim Darwish in the first round, and backed that up to beat Saurav Ghosal 3-1. A brilliant run came to an end when he lost to Tarek Momen from Egypt in the semis but he must be very happy with this performance which confirms that the strides he made last season did not come by chance.
Peter Barker from Essex won the event beating Momen in the final, completing a superb tournament victory against a strong field of players. Earlier he had beaten formidable Spanish no.1 Borja Golan in a 99 minute three set match: the time taken for the entire match seemingly not in accord with the number of games played. Whatever happened there, it appears to have been a brutal affair. Well done Peter on a perfect start to the season.
Nicol David reasserted herself in the women's event after her domination had been seriously threatened over the past year. She kept Raneem El Weleily at bay, winning a convincing 3-0 at the Curve Shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur, in front of her adoring home audience.
James' book 'Shot and a Ghost' is available at willstrop.co.uk or on kindle