Last Call for Lucas
Howard Harding reports
As players made their final preparations for the biggest ever
European Team Squash Championships - which get underway tomorrow at
the Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam - it was revealed that Dutch
star Lucas Buit will be retiring from the national team after
making a record 20th successive appearance in the event for his
40-year-old from Amsterdam made his Dutch debut in the 1989
championships in Helsinki - since when he has never missed selection
for his beloved Netherlands, making more than 150 appearances!
Furthermore, Buit has won a record nine national championships in
addition to winning a number of PSA titles in an illustrious career
which has made him one of the most successful Dutch players of
"He's been a fantastic role model for Dutch players for such a long
time - he will be sorely missed when he gives up playing for the
Netherlands," said Dutch men's team manager Peter Berden.
Dutch national coach Sjef van der Heijden - who is also
retiring after the championships - joked: "If I wasn't retiring, I'd
make him stay on until he fell over!"
Buit, who last year won the
British Open Over-40 championships in his Masters' debut (and
travels to Liverpool to defend it straight after this event) felt
that there had been a number of highlights in his outstanding
first Nationals win will always stand out - but then so did the ones
after that! But playing for the Dutch team always seems to bring the
best out in me - I had some of my best results in a Dutch shirt -
beating players like Chris Walker, Alex Gough and Julien Bonetat.
"I didn't start playing until I was 15 - so perhaps that explains
why I've been able to keep going for so long.
"It just feels right to be playing my last matches for Holland here
at the club where I coach every day. It would be the perfect end if
we could be playing in the final stages of the championships, here
on 'my' court.
"And then I would love to take over as Dutch National coach - I
think I am ideally qualified for the role."
Buit played his part in the Dutch
men's team winning the
in last year's championship - their best-ever finish.
Seeded two this year, Netherlands hope to meet defending champions
England again in the 2008 final - this time on home soil.
More Buits to come ...
Record Entry for Amsterdam
Preview from Howard Harding
Netherlands will host the biggest ever European Team Squash
Championships when the 2008 event - featuring a record 28 nations
competing in the men's event and 19 in the women's - takes place at
the Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam from 30 April to 3 May.
The men's championship welcomes Serbia for the first time - and also
Portugal and Luxembourg, returning to the event for the first time
since 1999 and 1997, respectively.
The women's event boasts the biggest entry since 2000 - and hails
first-timers Ukraine, while also welcoming back Greece for the first
time since 1989.
The 2008 staging marks the ninth time the prestigious Championships
have been hosted by Netherlands - more times than any other country.
England, defending champions in both the men's and women's events,
are seeded to retain their titles - the men's squad for the 33rd
time since the inaugural event in 1973, and the women's having held
the title unchallenged since 1978.
England's men's squad will be led by world No4 James Willstrop,
supported by world No10 Peter Barker, No11 Lee Beachill, No14 Adrian
Grant, and - making his international debut - Joey Barrington,
ranked 28 in the world. In the absence of Tania Bailey, who is
recovering from knee surgery, the England women's team features
world No6 Jenny Duncalf, No8 Vicky Botwright, No11 Alison Waters and
No12 Laura Lengthorn-Massaro.
But, after finishing as runner-up in both events last year, hosts
Netherlands will be hoping to make a long-awaited breakthrough on
'home soil'. Seeded two, and looking for first-time success in both
events, Netherlands will present a men's squad led by world No19
Laurens Jan Anjema, with Dylan Bennett, Tom Hoevenaars, Piedro
Schweertman, Rene Mijs and 40-year-old nine-time Dutch National
champion Lucas Buit.
Former world champion Vanessa Atkinson leads the Dutch women's squad
which has finished in second place each year since 2003. Supporting
the world No10 will be world No18 Annelize Naude, Karen Kronemeyer,
Orla Noom and Dagmar Vermeulen.
Strong contenders in the men's event in Amsterdam will be France.
Runners-up to England for seven years in a row since 2000, France
contested last year's championship without injured Gregory Gaultier
and Thierry Lincou. This time the pair - ranked three and seven in
the world, respectively - are back in action and will compete
alongside team-mates Renan Lavigne, Julien Balbo and Mathieu