Tournament of Champions

This week in New York the world’s top male and female players are competing in the Tournament of Champions in the Iconic venue of Grand Central Station.


One of the longest running and consistently successful tournaments on the men’s PSA tour, this event has only missed two years in the venue since 1995. It has also had the benefit of long standing sponsorship from JP Morgan and Lexington Partners for a number of years. The promoter, John Nimmick must be doing something right because anyone who has been to this event usually puts it at the top or close to the top for squash venues and tournaments around the world. The building itself, a large crowd of very enthusiastic and appreciative New Yorkers, corporate boxes usually full, a front wall free for the innocent passer-by all make for an amazing atmosphere. It is easy to see why the sponsors like it and want to support it year after year because it showcases a fantastic sport in one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

This one is special though. It isn’t always that easy. The majority of venues on the world tours will be at clubs, some of which may be in less exciting locations and efforts to entice sponsors are even more difficult. In the challenging economic times of the past few years and probably a few more, the tours and promoters must find a way to showcase and sell the sport. The 2020 Olympic Bid most certainly raised the profile of the sport so now the sport must push on so that the sponsors come to them. They should want to be part of a spectacle with television, high profile athletes and all the rest. You only need to look at the other big sporting event on this week in Melbourne and see that even in these tough financial times, if the product is good enough, the sponsors will continue to knock on the door. Prize money for the tennis grand slams continues to rise and those top tennis players will be slightly better rewarded for their troubles than the squash pros will be.

One thing is certain this week the squash pros will be very excited as they walk through Grand Central Station in their squash kit ready for action and ready to perform in front of one of the best crowds of all.

Madeline Perry – Sports Consultant




Double Fault; Chronic injuries are unavoidable with Tennis’ gruelling schedule

Across 6 tournaments in the last week there have been just fewer than 30 player withdrawals due to injury.


This startling finding has sparked the debate once more that players are putting their bodies on the line repeatedly without adequate rest and rehabilitation. The combination of an ever dwindling off season, general overtraining and the increasing exposure to the unforgiving concrete courts, that dominate the circuit in the modern era, are the main causes of players breaking down.

Britain’s very own Laura Robson is a case in point as she battles to contain the wrist pain which has been worsened by a total of 21 events in 9 months last season. Less than a week into 2014, Robson has already joined top-20 players Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Richard Gasquet and John Isner on the treatment table.

With the Australian Open about to begin on Monday 13th January the majority of players will have allowed themselves 3 weeks off in December in preparation for the Australian summer.  Tennis has no off-season like many other professional sports. So for a lot of the players they will still have been grinding it out in tournaments until the end of November.

A combination of the pressure to satisfy tournament sponsors, appease TV and Media schedules, win prize money and secure ranking points is compelling players to compete too regularly and in turn they are putting themselves at a far greater risk of injury.

Top 10 players must commit to specific WTA tournaments, exclusive of the Grand Slams and the year-end WTA Championships, which include the four Premier Mandatory tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Beijing), four of the Premier 5’s (Dubai, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati, and Tokyo) and at least two 700-level tournaments. A player has the option of skipping one of the Premier 5s annually, but must enter the one she skipped in the next year. It is not hard to grasp what a gruelling schedule that becomes in practice for Tennis’ elite.

The intrusion of TV and media schedules is deep rooted and a snapshot of how challenging that can be is seen every year during the US Open’s flagship ‘Super Saturday’ where the men’s semi-finals are played just one day before the final. Often, the winner of the second semi-final gets to bed so late that he barely has time to prepare for what should be one of the most important matches of his life.

In 1985, McEnroe took over five hours to beat Mats Wilander, a former world No 1, in five sets in the second semi-final. The next day he was beaten in straight sets by Ivan Lendl. Other stars down the years could conceivably plead that their hopes of winning this title had been ruined by the effort they had been required to expend the day before the final.

The reasoning for such ridiculous scheduling is purely down to monetary and financial decisions where tennis quickly becomes the byproduct.

Will the time come when the players start taking the administrators to court? Many of the top players have not shied away from expressing their concern over Twitter.Andy Murray took to Twitter following the debacle of the 2011 US Open to write

 “Is the 18th pull out in the US Open telling the tennis authorities anything?? No?? Thought not….”

Unless something is to change then the current situation might give way to Litigation, as we have seen in football.

Adrian Rattenbury – Sports Consultant