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PREMIER LEAGUE
Squash on TV

 

27-Sep-08:
The Truth about
the Thong Thing ...

This weeks' article in the Daily Telegraph about Vicky Botwright's new coaching role in Manchester features her 2001 'Thong Thing' episode.

Widely known in squash circles, the general public needed to know that the whole 'Thong Thing' was a publicity stunt dreamed up by WISPA, the women's professional body - amazingly, many people still believe she actually played in that outfit.

There was never any intent to wear 'abbreviated clothing' on court, and Vicky, as the player who volunteered to help generate publicity prior to the British Open, has regretted it ever since, as it simply distracted attention from her as a serious, world class squash player, as well as an immensely likeable, bubbly and friendly person.

Vicky went on to become a regular in the world's top ten, winning the European and World team titles with England, and was proud to captain the team on several occasions. The Manchester World Open will be her 'swansong' on the WISPA tour, having been ensconced in her new position as Manchester Head Coach for several weeks now, in which role we wish her all the best (see below).

No doubt she will be making appearances in Premier League, BSPA and other UK events, so she will certainly not be lost to the game.

As a footnote, the thong itself (or a close brethren thereof) resides safely framed at Tynemouth Squash Club, where it was auctioned as part of a 2001 charity night in support of John Dale, a PSA player who was suffering from a brain tumor. As well as donating the thong, Vicky herself contributed heavily to the proceeds.

So there you have it ...
May the thong thing finally rest in peace ...

A PR stunt dreamt up by the game's association WISPA, the British Open saw the then-23-year-old Botwright thrust into the spotlight. She became known as ‘Lancashire Hot Bot’ and soared into Google’s top 10 most searched for terms.

Botwright claimed that conventional clothing could be “quite restrictive", while Andrew Shelley, WISPA’s director who came up with the idea, was humorously quoted as saying: "We don't have a strict rule on this sort of thing, but we are concerned that referees might find it difficult to concentrate on the squash.”

Botwright, who is due to meet second seed Rachael Grinham in the second round, recalled: “I remember getting a lot of hassle from the press. It was meant to gain publicity for squash but instead all the attention was drawn to me.

“It was the governing body's idea and obviously was completely staged. I didn’t go to one of the meetings I was supposed to attend and that was my punishment. Always go to a meeting - that’s the key!”

It resulted in a mass of admiring emails being sent from all over the world, while she also received an offer from the Royal Lancashire Regiment to be their official mascot. “I do regret doing it but I had to move on,” she said. “At the time I felt huge pressure to do well; I was ranked only 14 in the world but fortunately I worked hard enough to get as high as number five.

“I failed to win the National Championships which was a disappointment but this year I'm hoping to play here relaxed knowing that I have something else to look on after the tournament.”

A new Role for Vicky ...           part ONE

02-Jul-08:
Top
coaching role prompts Vicky Botwright retirement

 

After dedicating her life to squash, England international Vicky Botwright has decided to retire from the WISPA World Tour.  The 31-year-old from Manchester has accepted the role of Head Squash Coach for Manchester City Council at the city's National Squash Centre.

 

Since joining WISPA in 1998, Vicky has enjoyed a glittering career, reaching 14 Tour finals and winning four titles, including the Texas Open in the USA in 2006.  Four final appearances in the last three months of 2005 took Vicky to a career-high world ranking of five in December 2005.

 

Away from the Tour, Botwright represented England with distinction in five successful European Team Championship campaigns from 2004 - losing just one match over the period - and led her country to a sensational triumph in the World Team Championships in 2006. A double medallist in the Commonwealth Games in 2006, Vicky won silver in the Mixed Doubles and bronze in the Women's Doubles.

 

"Vicky's record speaks for itself:  ranked as high as five in the world; winner of several WISPA Tour titles; reaching the finals of events such as the Qatar Classic and US Open - she's a bit special," said WISPA Chief Executive Andrew Shelley.

 

"But these facts only tell part of the story when it comes to Vicky Botwright. The English star has been a wonderful asset for women's squash. Popular on court, the same off it - and one of the names that promoters and spectators always want to see in their draws.

 

"Manchester have chosen well," added Shelley. "The players there are very fortunate and we wish Vicky all the success that she will surely have in the next phase of her squash career."

 

Botwright's main duties and responsibilities in her role as Head Squash Coach in her hometown will be to grow participation in squash and racquetball from grassroots through to elite. She will also be responsible for the mentoring of the coaches delivering these programmes and to implement the long term athlete development programme in Manchester.

 

"I have loved my time on the WISPA circuit," said Botwright, who plans to make her final Tour appearance at the World Open which takes place in her home city in October.

 

"I have met many wonderful people that have been influential in my life.  But I am taking this opportunity to work in my home town of Manchester on a programme that many consider as world class. It's an exciting time for me and I am looking forward to starting my new career."

  


A new Role for Vicky ...             part TWO
Vicky ... the reaction

Yesterday we announced Vicky Botwright's competitive retirement ... today we get reactions from Vicky herself, and some of her England team-mates ...
 
  








Had you been looking for a coaching job, or did the Manchester position come up out of the blue ?

I had been looking on the net at jobs for a few months but wasn't really taking myself seriously, it needed to be something good to tempt me away from the WISPA circuit and not just financially but the whole package.

When I heard Nick was leaving I was instantly gutted that he wouldn't be around anymore but then a spark went off in my head and I thought, this is it this is my chance. It's been a tough couple of months fretting over the interview, obviously being a squash player I haven't had much interview experience!

It must be good to be able to stay at home to work, in an area and conditions you know so well ?

It will be great to be in Manchester my home town. I use Sportcity most days training but from the end of August I will be there coaching and mentoring.

Manchester has a big squash programme already but we will be trying to build on its success and expand, one of the areas is more women and girl participation, Racketball and Squash of all ages. It's a really exciting time for me.

Will you still play the worlds in October?

At first my initial reaction was not to play, but............... I am going to play now. I realised that I will still be on court a lot hitting with the Academy kids. My goal is to keep myself unbeaten from them ... although if I do my job properly then I hope they do beat me!

After 11 years it's bound to feel strange -
relief or regret ?


It's not relief or regret, it's just that the time's right. When you're a player you know, and my ego's far too big to want to drop down the rankings and lose to people I have never lost to - it felt bad enough when I dropped to number 11 in the world! (at least I'm honest).

The thing is most players know deep down if they can make it or not and it depends on what you want to achieve. I was happy with my lot, I did more than I thought I ever would.

Any particular favourite places, tournaments, countries ?

The Tournament of Champions at grand central in New York is one of best places in the world, the event is magical, the court the atmosphere the people.

I was talking about this with Tania the other day and we started off with Qatar and Hong Kong, then we said Apawamis because we love the billets, Peter Briggs and the people. Then I was saying I loved the event that I won in 2006 in Houston, which wasn't even big but again it came back to the people.

So I have to say that it's about the relationships you build up over years of visiting the same places that make the events good. Brooklyn Heights, Kathy and Michael Connecticut the list is endless.

And of course the Commonwealth games in Melbourne, was pretty good, but again my partners made that a great experience for me so thank you Tania and James!

What will you miss most ?

PLAYING FOR ENGLAND. The chat with the girls! Dinners out in foreign places. The competitiveness of scraping day in, day out on court, the training - although I'm still going to do it!

All the people I see on a daily basis to make me the player I am/was. I'm sure I will miss lots of things, it's been my life for the last 10 years.

What will you miss least ?

All the flying, flying for 14 hours for one or two matches. Always thinking about when to eat in relation to when you're playing/training etc, always making sure you're hydrated.

What are you most looking forward to ?

My new job! Stewart making me dinner as I will have been out to work! Everything!

Describe your life as a squash professional
in three words ?


Battling, Determined and Fulfilling.
 
I would like to say a few Thank You's ...

Firstly I would like to say Thank You to my amazing parents who let me convince them I could be a professional squash player 12 years ago. You funded me, supported me and fought my corner, I couldn't want for anything more.



To England Squash and the performance programme. Thank You for your continued support and belief in me.

To David Pearson and Paul Carter, legends, what can I say, you made me this player! Your commitment and dedication to making me the best player possible never wavered. Thank You.

To Wilson who have supported me for 7 years.

To the EIS Manchester, Matt Cook, Jim Webb and many many others. I swear that you guys prolonged my career Thank You for your expertise and knowledge.

And to Steve Johnson and Chris McManus for shaping the beginning of my career.
The record speaks for itself. Ranked as high as five in the world, winner of several WISPA Tour titles, reaching the finals of events such as the Qatar Classic and US Open. A bit special.

But these facts only tell part of the story when it comes to Vicky Botwright. There is a vast array of committed players with great personalities adorning the WISPA Tour, all trying to fulfil their potential; but ask other members to single out one girl with abundant talent, infectious passion, great personality and so much else besides and Vicky's name would be tripping off most tongues.

The English star has been a wonderful asset for women's squash. Popular on court, the same off it and one of the names that promoters and spectators always want to see in their draws.

As she winds down to take on her new coaching role in Manchester we may not see her accomplished play and convulsed shoulders as part of her drop shot, but when we are at England's national centre we will hear her Mancunian tones and her laughing, so although her finishing competitively is sad for the sport, she is not lost to us.

A sparkling career from a sparkling girl.

Vicky and I first became friends on a fun filled exhibition week in the Cayman Islands and yes there are many naughty stories to be heard from there but as we say, ''what happens on tour stays on tour.'' But it was a great week and we became friends and later on England buddies.

We have had our battles over the years as all the English girls do. She was always a very tough competitor especially playing in her home town which was where the Nationals have tended to be for quite a few years now. So it is only fitting that she stays in the area and takes over Nick Taylor's job, I am positive she will bring a lot of bubbly fun and experience.

Vicky congratulations with the new job and the engagement, so I guess the only things that are left are ''getting married and having a baby'', which means your life is going along perfectly. I wish you all the success in the new job, I have enjoyed working with kids and I am sure you will have just as much to offer.

Congratulations on a wonderful career, you will miss the tour as I do occasionally but life moves on and I know you will be just as happy.

Take care, your buddy Fi Fi Trixabelle xxx

Vicky has been a great friend and England team mate over the last few years, we've had some good times together and I've got some fantastic memories.

She was such a great role model for me growing up in Lancashire and I just couldn't beat her in practise or matches for years because of my respect for her and how good she was and still is.

Watching her play when I was young was great, her guts, determination and skills are to be admired and something all the kids at Manchester can learn from. She's going to make a fantastic coach and I'm really pleased for her that she got the job she really wanted to do.

I just want to wish a great friend good luck and i'll miss her on the tour!

I have lots of great memories of my time on the circuit with Bot, I am really going to miss her, there have been so many good times that I can't write them all down but two special highlights that I will always look back on are winning the World teams in Canada and getting a bronze medal in the commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

On court Bot was (and still will be I am sure) a great competitor and always gave 110% no matter what. Personally, she was always there for me on and off court and great fun to be around, I hope we remain friends way after both of our playing careers have finished.

I wish her all the best in her new job, with her energy and enthusiasm I am sure she will be great, and obviously I expect a few free sessions at the centre!!

Dear Bot, Firstly congratulations on a wonderful career. The circuit will definitely miss your bubbly and friendly personality. I had great fun training, playing and spending time with you while on the circuit and I'm so pleased we have remained friends since I stopped playing. I know Erin enjoys playing dolls with you!!

I wish you all the luck in your new job. I'm sure you will be great success and the people of Manchester are very luck to have you. Finally I want to wish you lots and lots of happiness for your future life with Stewart. I'm so pleased for you both and I can definitely recommend being married to an Aussie!

GOOD LUCK BOT. XX

First of all, a huge congratulations on getting the job at the national squash centre. We're sure that you'll do a great job there and will inspire tons of kids to either take up squash or/and put the time and effort into becoming the best they can be.

Good luck with it all and hope you have as much fun in the next phase of your life as you had in the last. We've found coaching to be so rewarding and fun and we're sure you'll find the same and there's something special about staying involved in the sport you love and have dedicated most of your life to.

Talking of fun, boy, we did have some really fun times all together in various places around the world! Special times that I wouldn't swop for anything. There are too many to single out but I do know that having a great group of friends really made my years on the circuit so much more enjoyable and I hope you feel the same. I'm so glad that I have plenty of photos and memories of it all to look back on from time to time. You definitely added to that group of friends with your bubbly light-hearted nature. Now the squash kids, your family and your hubby to be will have you around all the time and benefit from your retirement.

Congratulations too on a great squash career, I'm sure you'll be missed on the circuit....wow, there are hardly any us left playing from our original group now!!!

We really hope that squash will bring us together again at some stage soon, good luck again for the future and keep in touch.

Lots of love and hugs Lind, Laurent, Lob and Drop (our cats!) and big bump! XXXXX




Vicky has been there since I started on the tour and from the beginning was one of the most determined players around ... she always gave 100 per cent and never once have I seen her give up.

As a younger playing coming through at the time it was great to have someone like Bot around, not just for her attributes on court, but also for how off court, she was always willing to chat and have fun.

We were given our first England caps together and I know how much it means to her to represent her country..she has been a great team mate and someone you always wanted to have in your corner. A team mate that will definitely be missed.

With an abundance of energy and experience to offer the players in Manchester, I am sure they will benefit from the appointment of their new coach.

Good luck Bot ... you'll be great.

 

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