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Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 10:40:00 PM
Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 10:42:14 PM
by kng zheng guan
World No.1 Nicol David and England's Peter Barker hold their respective trophies after winning the women's and men's event respectively at the CIMB Open in September. The sport is considering a merger to strengthen their Tour calendar. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: The men’s and women’s squash associations are in talks to form a united front in a bid to make the sport stronger following the Olympic snub in September.
“We are actively talking to the women’s Tour (WSA) and we want to bring them into the PSA and have the men’s and women’s Tours within,” Professional Squash Association (PSA) chief executive officer Alex Gough said in a recent interview with the BBC.
“Talks have started in earnest and there seems to be an appetite for it ... it’s the mapping out that is tricky.
“We are going to work quite hard on putting a proposal together that’ll give everyone the confidence it’s the best thing for the sport.”
The idea of a merger seems favourable for now, with world No. 2 Laura Massaro lending her support in the same BBC interview.
“The players are keen but we might need to be in a bit of a stronger position, financially,” said Massaro.
National No. 2 Low Wee Wern also spoke in favour of the proposal, saying that the women’s game would benefit from having more tournaments.
“We will definitely benefit from it because we are struggling for tournaments on the calendar,” said Wee Wern, who dropped two more rungs to No. 9 in the world due to a lack of tournaments this year.
“The men have more tournaments ... but I guess everything is still in discussion.”
For example, there are only eight tournaments for the women this year that are of World Series or Gold status – the Cleveland Classic, KL Open, British Open, Malaysian Open, Carol Weymuller Open, US Open, China Open and Hong Kong Open.
The women’s World Open has yet to be confirmed although there is talk that the WSA are close to holding it some time in mid-December.
In contrast, the men have 17 tournaments of equal status this year, including the recently concluded world meet in Manchester. The Qatar Classic, which starts from Nov 8-15, is no longer a WSA tournament.
WSA tournaments also do not have livestream from Squash TV or video reviews unless they are held together with a men’s tournament of equal standard.
Another concern for the WSA is that the women’s game has never received equal status, despite the exploits of world No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David.
For example, the prestigious British Open offered a total of US$150,000 (RM476,894) for the men while the women only received US$95,000 (RM302,056) this year.
But the US Open last month broke traditions by having equal prize money – US$115,000 (RM364,895) – for the first time.
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