Sport

Published: Tuesday December 3, 2013 MYT 12:26:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday December 3, 2013 MYT 11:06:54 AM

Nicol: Squash will emerge stronger from adversity

World No.1 Nicol David of Malaysia (with headband) feels that the sport of squash will see better days despite a few setbacks this year. - Filepic

World No.1 Nicol David of Malaysia (with headband) feels that the sport of squash will see better days despite a few setbacks this year. - Filepic

PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David believes that that these are difficult times for squash, which has suffered a few blows since the Olympic rejection in September.

First came news from the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) that there won’t be a Women’s World Open this year, although there is the possibility that there could be two world meets next year.

Squash then suffered another blow last week when the World Series Finals, scheduled to be held from Jan 2-6 at Queen’s Club in London, was postponed indefinitely with no news on further dates.

Despite the disappointments, Nicol is optimistic that 2014 will be a better year for squash players – men and women.

“What happened with the Women’s World Open was that even though there was a lot of interest initially ... a lot of companies and sponsors pulled out at the last minute,” said Nicol.

“That put the WSA in a lurch as they had to scramble to find the next organisers and sponsors ... and ultimately everything was just too late.

“I know there are many who say that the failed Olympic bid made sponsorship harder to get but, in reality, it’s a combination of many factors.

“For a start, we do not have a full-time Tour director and that causes a few logistical difficulties.

“But if there’s one thing that I’m sure of, it is that we will want to mark down our calendar for the long term, meaning securing the dates for the next five years, for instance, instead of on a yearly basis.

“Everything, however, is still at the discussion stage and all I know it that this has been a difficult, frustrating and disappointing time for the players.

“But there are signs that next year will be better, with a few tournaments already on the calendar, as well as the Commonwealth and Asian Games and the Women’s World Teams to look forward to.”

Among the events lined up for next year are the Tournament of Champions (Jan 16-24) in New York, the Cleveland Classic (Jan 28-Feb 4), the Windy City Open (Feb 24-March 3) in Chicago and the KL Open (March 25-30).

Nicol is also open to the idea of Penang hosting the world meet next year.

“Penang has always been interested in hosting it, which is great for players from the island, namely (Low) Wee Wern and me,” said Nicol.

“But that’s all still in talks and I don’t think it’s right to put the government in a spot. But we’ll see what happens and we’ll all play our part.”

For the record, Malaysia last hosted the women’s world meet in 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, where Nicol lost to Natalie Grinham in the semi-finals.

Nicol, however, won the first of her seven world titles in Hong Kong the following year.

For now, the 30-year-old hopes to put the challenging 2013 behind her as she seeks to end the year by winning the Hong Kong Open – the last tournament on the calendar.

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