IRIW Tim Garner 

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Yes, I remember it well
 Best and Worst Squash Memories - What's yours?

TIM GARNER

TEAM OR INDIVIDUAL?

It's funny in an individual sport that when I look back at the emotional highs (particularly) and lows they are dominated by team matches.

Maybe that says something about my personality that I like being able to make a real difference, but the true value I feel is only when in the context of other people being part of it.

BEATING DADDY - EVENTUALLY...

I remember the earliest lows vividly and they were, however, very much individual performances. Taking on the greatest sportsman of his time (in my mind), I used to come home absolutely distraught at having been resoundingly been beaten (again) by my Dad!

Although having had to follow his father into farming, my Dad was an excellent cricketer, hockey player and as I discovered squash player. Despite my best efforts, I just couldnít win a game and as with all great sportsmen he made it look so easy Ö. Grrrr so annoying!! Many tears were shed, and although eventually I did get the win, more importantly I had learnt to persevere, and if at first (second, third, Ö) you donít succeed.

BEST IN AL-AHRAM...

Probably my biggest highs and lows occurred in Egypt.

The Al Ahram International was one of the major events on the tour at the time and whilst the early rounds were on the traditional courts at Cairo Stadium, the Last 16 was scheduled for the incredible setting of in front of the Giza Pyramids.

Having qualified for the main draw, I drew World no.5 Alex Gough in the first round. I managed to beat him in straight games and progressed to the glass-court stage which was spectacularly set in front of the Pyramids.

What an incredible experience that was to play in front of the wonders of the World, a true highlight and one I will never forget.

The only downside to that was that I had promised my friend and flat-mate Julian Wellings that I would bleach my hair (it was fashionable then, honest) if I made it to the Pyramids.

On arriving home, there was a bottle of bleach just inside the front door. I bypassed that and went straight to the phone to book an appointment at the hair-dressers!!

WORST IN AL-AHRAM

A year later and sport showed my clearly that it can be a tough master as I suffered probably the lowest point on my professional career.

The World Championships was back in Egypt and followed a similar format to the Al Ahram. I won my first round and set up a Last 32 clash with World no.6 Australian Dan Jenson who, whilst I hadnít beaten, I had generally played well against.

I had been in decent form, was at a career high ranking of 26 and if I won would not only get to play out in the desert again, but would also jump close to the World's top 20 and avoid the brutal battle ground that is qualification.

In a tough encounter, I edged two of the first three games and moved to 14/11 (we were playing to 15 at that point). Dan hit a backhand drop from the back of the court, which he later admitted he was sure was going down and didnít bother covering.

I did cover it, but it was millimetre perfect and I couldnít get it back. Two more hard rallies followed, but again went by the wayside. A fourth match-ball at 14-14 and again I couldnít find the all important winner. I tried to re-group in the 5th, but admit was a bit shell shocked and the match slipped away.

Having dealt with requisite handshakes, I put down my racket and walked out of the centre to hide the tears that were streaming down my cheeks.

TEAM MOMENTS - PADERBORN

However, as mentioned earlier, itís the team highs that really remain with me, whether it was winning key matches for my original home club of Lingfield or now helping Lansdowne to Bath Cup titles.

However, one of the most special ones was for Paderborn in the European Club Championships.

We had never won the ECC, and had a decent team on paper but in the final faced the dominant force at the time in the form of Colets.

Edgar Schneider & Stefan Leifels put in great performances at 3 and 4, but went down 0-3 and 1-3 respectively. Leaving us with everything to do.

However, we did have ex-World no.1 Peter Nicol at no.1 and he duly won 3-0, leaving me to play ex-World no.10 Mark Cairns and needing to win 3-0, or 3-1 and face a points count back.

Having played Mark on many occasions (on tour and in practice) the records suggested that this was unlikely. Fortunately, records are made to be broken and I managed to clinch the 3-0 win and a first ever ECC for Paderborn. I was so focussed on each point that having won the final one I wasnít actually sure what I needed to do, but the reaction of my team-mates was a give-away!

JARVIS CUP

Whilst winning titles is fantastic, there is a certain satisfaction in avoiding relegation! This is particularly so when, as in the case of my province Border in South Africa, you are the underdogs.

Every year Border battles to stay in the A-Section of the Jarvis Cup (South African Inter-provincial competition).

Each team is allowed one non-South African, and I have been Borderís adopted player for 10 years! One year, we knew we were in trouble and in a key fixture I faced ex-South African no.1 Craig van der Wath in the deciding rubber.

Craig is renowned as a tough competitor and over years we have had some pretty bruising encounters. This one was no different and with my team-mates urging me on the match entered a fifth game, eventually going down to the wire before I edged it to take the match and the fixture.

Hand-shake over, I calmly walked out of the court around the corner into the changing room before letting out an almighty roar and being mobbed by my team-mates. Western Province were having their pre-match team meeting there and looked a little bemused. As in his description of the Iceland football team, Cristiano Ronaldo might say it was like we had won there tournament, well to us we had!

WORST FOR LAST...

My biggest team low, was probably the off-court experience of only getting selected as non-travelling reserve for the European Championships despite a World Ranking of 26 and never having the chance to represent my country.

 How I would have loved to have pulled on my national shirt and savour the team highs!


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Yes, I remember it well
 Best and Worst Squash Memories - What's yours?

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