Mrs Parke, Simon’s mother, could very easily pass for his older sister. She is blond, very attractive, extremely charming, and “very laid back”, as she describes herself.

What is Simon’s family background?
Simon’s father used to be a tennis county player. In college, I was also very involved in non-racquet sports like hockey, netball, gymnastics, etc. I started playing squash at 26, and I played Metro League at Pontefract, where Simon first played as well.

I heard he had cancer?
Yes, that was a long time ago, when he was 23, he is now fully recovered and all clear.

In your opinion, why did he want to come back up the rankings?

Several factors I guess, first of all, Simon loves the game. Also, squash is his work, so, when a player drops in the rankings, I’m sorry to be so pragmatic, but his income drops as well. And also, maybe Simon wants to have another shot at the number one position, as he missed the opportunity when he was in his 20s, who knows?...

I told you I would win !!!

Normally, my talents as a clairvoyant are not that amazing. But this time, I’m quite proud of myself, as Simon Parke, the "resurrected" 32 year old in the final of the event when coming from qualifying, was the first “portrait” I did in Sheffield.

My first question was: “So, are you going to win that one then?”. “Yes I am”! he laughed.

Well, I meant his first round match against Mark Chaloner. But now, it sounds quite prophetic, doesn’t it?

Talking about his “second career”, Simon said “I have been training very hard in the past 3 months, much harder than I have for the past three years actually. I was offered a coaching position in Chicago, a very tempting offer. So I had to make a choice, to stop my career as a player, and go to coaching, or give it a last go!”

About his expectations career wise, the answer was straight to the point:

“I admire Agassi a lot, and I think that, as long as you are fit, you can keep on going! So, that is why I am training so hard, to get as fit as possible. Although I’m based in Nottingham, I train with David Pearson and David Campion, and I play sometimes with John White and John Rooney.”

I also asked him if he had the intention of winning the tournament? “I know it’s a cliché, but I will take match after match, and hope for the best!” he said.

Well, hoping for the best, he passed successively Mark Chaloner, Nick Matthew, and Peter Nicol.

So the question would be, is Simon now ready for Lee Beachill?

“Well, it’s the best I’ve been playing in a long time. And I’m lucky, I had a lot of matches this week, but they never went over the hour, so I’m happy. Just one more to go….”

During his match against Peter last night, Simon received some advice from a familiar face, the great squash player Peter Marshall, who lives in Nottingham.

“I've known Simon since we were both 8 or 9 years old. I have to say I loved the way he played tonight. And I didn’t really give him any advice during the games, I think he just needed to be reminded what he knows very well and to be encouraged. When a player plays as well as he played tonight, there is not much to say…”