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• Tournament of Champions 2010 • 20-28 Jan, New York • 

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ToC EN BREF 2010 ... Issue #6

Everything you never knew you needed to know about the ToC ...


…”Very excited… Awesome to be back… Had a great time on there”…

The Boss Peter Nicol [Fram, don’t call me the Boss], and the Magician Jonathon Power were back on court during the first quarter finals night here in Grand Central.

Nobody left their seat to go and have a beer or a cupper, as their match was sandwiched between Karim/David and James/ Shabana...

For the record, I think Peter took it a bit more seriously beforehand, and trained probably more for it than Jonathon did. The will to compete is so strong in those two, it’s incredible, and it’s not because they are not as young as they used to be that it just goes away, and I have no doubt that the Canadian will prepare a bit more for their next encounter…

But this was only an appetiser, we were told today by ToC Promoter John Nimick and Eventis Promoter Peter Nicol, as for the past 18 months, they have been working hard to organise the “Squash Legends Tour” all over the world.

“The idea is very simple, really,” said Peter. “When I saw that Jonathon still played in the Canadian Team for the World events, I realised that he was probably motivated and fit enough to still want to compete on the World scene. And then, I thought that there were other players like him, that were still fit enough, not injured, and willing to come back and play competitive squash.

“The aim is to allow great champions to still be able to compete at the highest level, in a mixture of entertaining and serious competitive squash, a winning combination.

"It would also allow players who just retired to make a transition between their life as Professional players and their new life, a transition that we all know can be difficult.”

The names the Legends is likely to attract at the moment are John White, Simon Parke (who will be doing a Legends Exhibition in Canary Wharf with Peter Nicol), Chris Walker (who still passed the first round here in the TOC), Peter Marshall.

Other eligible players would be Jansher, Rodney Eyles, Ahmed Barada, David Evans, and who knows, Lee Beachill! And the names of Thierry Lincou and David Palmer, after they retire of course, were also mentioned…

Who is eligible? Well, easy peasy really. You need to be retired from the PSA tour and have either:
  • Won or been in the final of the
    World Open, ToC or British Open
  • Been ranked n°1 in the World
  • Played on a winning world’s team

The format will be from 1 to 4 days of competition, and could be held on its own, all over the world, or alongside a tournament and could help attracting audience around.

“On the day we publicly announced that this Legends Challenge would take place at the Tournament of Champions, our box office experienced a dramatic surge in tickets sales, which speaks to their enduring popularity,” said John.

Good thing is, the Players will have the right to speak!!!!

“We aim to improve the communication between the players – Jon always knew how to make his point get across during matches – and the refs/audience. In normal competition, we are always afraid of what the players may say, whereas the Legends Tour will aim to allow that communication during play.”

Good move, John, excellent move….

On a personal view, I must say that the immense pleasure I had to see Peter and Jonathon not only on court, but hanging around the competition, chatting around with their fans, the prospect of being able to keep close to the court players like David, Thierry, and to have another chance to admire Sir Simon Parke and so many others, fills me with relief and anticipation….

We will no doubt keep you informed of any future development and dates of this exciting new adventure…

“Yesterday, I lived like a squash pro for the first time since my retirement. I woke up, had breakfast, then went back to bed. Then woke up, had lunch, little workout and hit on the court, then back to the hotel, watched DVD, title nap, and came to the venue. It felt great!”

“In the hotel room, as I was lacing my squash shoes, I had a flood of panic. Oh my God, I’m back!"

The Media Release

ToC EN BREF 2010 ... Issue #5

Everything you never knew you needed to know about the ToC ...

13 and Counting for David ...

Right after his loss against Karim, John Nimick, ToC tournament promoter, kept David on court and presented him with a little token from the tournament.

“The first time we gave this reward, it was in ’95, and David is the only player in this tournament who was there at the time, he was actually in the qualifiers draw.

David has played all the 13 editions since then, with the great determination that has characterised him throughout his career.”

David was completely unaware of John’s nice gesture. “I didn’t expect this at all,” he told me, “this has always been one of my favourite tournaments, there are always great crowds, that’s wonderful for us to play in front of knowledgeable audience like this one. I hope they keep on coming and support the rest of the tournament, and for the years to come…


An introduction to four youngsters from StreetSquash who were helping at the ToC, impressed me to the point that I offered to go to StreetSquash to coach some of the children there.

Even though I was taken with the youngsters' manners, it was obvious that a) they had no idea who I was (I'm used to that these days) and b) they were not impressed by what they saw.

However a meeting with Sage Ramadge and Tony Maruca set up my visit.

What struck me on arrival was the warmth of the greeting from Narida at reception and the civility and smiling faces of the many children already there. I was shown around the excellent facilities; the courts, the rooms where children could do their homework, and it was clear the concept of StreetSquash is about the whole person.

Down to work with Racky, Lizzie, Arthur and Kenneth, and though the way I work was obviously a culture shock for all of them, they responded encouragingly.

Racky, who had played a challenge match at Grand Central at the weekend, apart from showing considerable promise, quickly sussed me out.

Apart from the great social good that comes out of StreetSquash, she showed that it can be a source of players of standard.

    www.streetsquash.org    Fram visits in 2009
Caro in NY

Hello everybody…

I love my city Paris, it’s special but….. New York…WOW !!! Its absolutely magical….unique, full of energy and excitement…how many times does a guy in a trilby hat suddenly start singing to you !!!! that was day one in Central Station !

So much to see, easy to spend spend spend and for a frog, food and wine is a dream !!!

The squash venue is stunning…if you want players to profile the game and perform at their best then send them here….motivation no problem !!!

I watched a match yesterday which was as dramatic and exciting as the city itself !!! Alister Walker took on the creme de la creme, Shabana, and produced a match which ended in a standing ovation from the New York squash fans.

It’s fantastic to see two players, one a four-time World Champion, against a rising star living his dream, giving everything in a display of fair skilful, attacking squash….for me this sums up New York.

Thanks to you John for once again running a successful TOC….. how do you fancy taking on « Eiffel Tower Squash Championships « ??????

Bises  ... Caro
ASIDES .... Malcolm in Grand Central

Crowd Appeal

Not that I have been to every TOC, but the crowd and atmosphere can hardly have ever been better. John Nimick and his team deserve immense credit for sustaining the Championship in difficult times.
Looking Fresh

All the main players here have looked refreshed after their much needed break, so the prospects for the quarter finals are sky high. If all goes to plan, the crowds can look forward to Darwish v Palmer, Shabana v Willstrop, Matthew v El Hindi Ashour v Gaultier, not that there’s any guarantee that it will.
Bet Away

Exciting news for me personally, and for squash at large is that Bet365 and Paddy Power have been betting on the Matches here.

They are two high powered companies and their involvement will do more to raise the profile of the sport than any other single factor – a drum I’ve been beating for several years now.
Next Generation

With Vicky and Stewart Boswell, Natalie and Tommy Berden, and Shelley and Anthony Ricketts all on the verge of parenthood, there are some quality pedigree for the next generation of squash players.

Who next, I wonder…
Fair Schedule

The playing schedule is New York best and fairest I have seen.

Players have suitable rest days, so that whoever reaches the late stages is not exhausted and all the matches are on the glasscourt, preventing the massive imbalance when only the top four seeds play on it.

Not me mate

Heavy personal experience for me at the end of Saturday night play when Mr and Mrs Barnet from New Jersey asked me if I was Martin Bronstein.

I was as shocked as I am sure Martin would have been. At least, my amazement caused Mr & Mrs Barnet some amusement.

ToC EN BREF 2010 ... Issue #4

Everything you never knew you needed to know about the ToC ...

John, Ken & Karim, with Sayed Khalifa (Egyptian Tourism Office)


"It's not often that a beloved city landmark is turned into a sports arena for a week, which is why the City of New York is proud to welcome the Tournament of Champions, North America’s premier squash contest back in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Station for its thirteen year.

"This exciting annual tournament brings together greats and up-and-comers in the sport for a week of stiff competition, full of nicks, counterdrops, lobs and drives – all taking place in a glass court in the center of New York City’s transportation hub."

It is in those terms that the proclamation from the Office of the Mayor of New York was handed to John Nimick, by retiring NYC Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba.

What a great honour for our sport…

Thank you New York…


Viviane and Rafael may have been married for a year now, but they are as much in love as the first day they met, 9 years ago . The lady just couldn’t think about one major fault to reproach to her man.

Come on, is that love or what???….

And maybe if Rafa’s performance on the court wasn’t his best ever, he had a lovely excuse: the lovely couple were reliving their honeymoon that they spent here actually, in New York.

That’s the best ever excuse if you ask me. Hey, I’m French, we INVENTED romantics’ movement remember…
They said

Wael :
 “He didn’t even ask for a let, and you give it anyway.
Christmas is gone, guys!!!”

I was a bit surprised to hear so much support for Bernardo in the All Colombian match last on court last night.

Simple answer really. M. Samper has been coaching girls at a New York School, in Rye, The School of the Holly Child among other actifivites, and boy were those supporters vociferous, as Malcolm would say!

Alas, it was not enough to see him through the next round, but it still gave me the opportunity for a little photo…

ToC EN BREF 2010 ... Issue #3

Everything you never knew you needed to know about the ToC ...


As every year, we know that the fun is about to begin when Mike Riley, tournament referee, makes sure that the court is sparkling clean as he sweeps it one more time.

And that's our cue, ladies and gentlemen… To quote a famous “Voice of Squash”, let’s play squash……


There is a lot of intensity as I’m writing those words, as SquashTV is officially being launched today.

Lee of course, is here, trying to find himself a new job, bless him. Omar, of course, indispensable pivot between old and new, then Dominic, from Perform, who’ll be sending the images to the world, a new addition from MOOV, who is in charge of the graphics (this time, we have Duncan and Nevil on site), and Mr Barrington, squashed in his little space, that he’ll become pretty familiar with during the coming days…

All that to bring you people the New Face of Squash right to your lovely computer at home…..


This year, if Thierry Lincou, former finalist in the tournament, is missing, we have a few new faces that tried and come in the event.

Johan Bouquet, who was here for the first time, with Martine, his mum.

And Greg Marche, poor thing, who got very ill the night before the qualifying finals. The two brothers Fabien and Stéphane, who unfortunately had to play against each other in the first round of qualifiers, how bad is that…

And in the “old guard”, Greg Gaultier, of course, who is here with his mental coach, Mathieu Benoît, and his physio, Caroline Glain, that you may remember from Saudi. At last but not least, Renan Lavigne, 35 bless him, who this year invited his dad Jean-Louis for his 62nd birthday.

ToC EN BREF 2010 ... Issue #2

Everything you never knew you needed to know about the ToC ...


As ever, a big jetlag as the one we Europeans get when we go to the States is never easy to handle. Six hours difference with Paris for example. Big shock to the system.

So, up you are at 6. Work on the French site, bleeping thing not working properly. 9am, quick breakfast, no time to go down so, $40 for a tea and an omelette, nice. Won’t do that one again then. Finishing touch on the first en brefs, sorting out messages. Normal day at the office.

11am. Qualifying draws. So many “first timers”, not only in the ToC, but in NY too! Johan, Greg M, the French players, Nicholas Mueller, Swiss, the British camp, Shaun, Alan, Jethro, Tom. They are all excited, and the skyscrapers are sparkling in their young eyes… “I brought two empty bags that can contain 23kg!” laughs Nicholas, “I’m here to shop!!”.

Draw is done. Of course, the British are playing the British, Alan versus Tom, and the French are playing the French, Stéphane v Fabien, with a little more twist there, as they are half and very close brothers. Great…

Back to my room for 10m to get internet connection, sending Steve photos, draws, etc. Then rushing to Princeton, less than 10m walk, even with my heavy load on the back, for 12.30, where the first match is happening, Ryan v TG.

2pm. Quick bite at Grand Central Dining Concourse, below the main hall, and typing report and quote while eating. Back to the room, sending all to Steve, working again on that bleeping French site, that seems to be on strike again – ha ha ha – a quick nap before rushing off again.

5.30. First match is on at Harvard. Thanks to Beth and her team, I’m able to connect onto the Club’s internet, and zoom, normal drill, I type, and send to Steve, who is still up bless him. After the second match, it’s now nearly 1am for him, he goes to bed. I finish the last two matches, grab players that came from other clubs to get their impressions of their day.

10pm. Back to the room, after a quick Japanese on 44th street and a sneak at the court. Incredible. It’s all ready, and they are now hoovering and cleaning everything. They’ll have a beer tonight, I’m sure of that. Now, back in front of the computer again.. Putting all the quotes, results, photos on the site for Steve to make it look better in the morning. Finishing at 1am NY time.

It’s 7am for me. Slightly tired. Going to sleep now…


We all know how charming South American men can be, but come on, Esteban incarnates charisma. Listen to that one. We are 11/11 in the 3rd, the Paraguayan is playing for his life there, to try and get that third game as he is 2/0 down. A fantastic rally, once again, with a lot of running, and attacking, and retrieving, you know the drill.

And a stunning backhand drop shot from Esteban, miraculously saved and counter dropped by Mathieu. Esteban asks me, yes, as we are playing, “did you see that pick up”. “It was good” I reply, thinking he is asking my opinion. “No, I mean, did you see that pick up! Amazing wasn’t it!”…

Come on… How cute is that. How respectful and adorable is that.

And as if that was not enough, look what he brought to John Nimick, ToC tournament promoter. A PSA shirt from 1987, the year John actually went to Paraguay…

Awhhhhhh. I tell you, no wonder he’s got two kids, he knows his way to ladies’ heart that man….

ToC EN BREF 2010 ... Issue #1

Everything you never knew you needed to know about the ToC ...


Well, you may have heard about the new security measures that come from all those lovely passengers trying to light up fireworks within American planes, I came to experience them today.

First, I thought it was easy enough. Pretty smooth in Orly South, really, no delay at all at security, but then, one hour and a half before boarding, we are called in, for extra security checks, says the voice.

Extra measures, you can say that again.

For some weird reason, I find myself first on. I’m directed to a nice lady, methinks. Arms up, she orders. Well, nice start. She inspects the whole of my circumference, from close I tell you. “Open your thighs”, she intimates.

Not on a first date, surely! And no flowers, not even a drink?? You must be joking.

But she’s not. After finishing inspecting every centimetre of my body, off she goes with my shoes (inside sole included), my bags, with extreme care.

Boy, do I feel secure… A bit shaken by so much attention, but sooo secure….


After having to explain to the Hyatt reception that no, I wasn’t Mick Todd, but that I still needed the room he booked for me from London – that took about one hour of strong discussion between a strong and not so happy Yorkshireman about to go to bed and a rather unhelpful manager – I dropped my bags into my room, to go and have a first look at the court.

And of course, everybody was there, working their socks off to make everything ready for the tournament. It’s always difficult to imagine that in a few hours, this place that looks a complete mess will be packed with delighted and loud squash fanatics, your servant included.

And apart from the fact that everybody seems so active at 2am, well, maybe because it’s 8pm for them, everything is fine.

As I’m finishing these words, it’s 10pm NY time, as in 4am Paris time. As in, time for me to put my blond brain to rest. Start of the competition tomorrow morning at 11am, with the qualification draw.


ToC EN BREF 2009 ...  Seven Issues #7

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