Wednesday, January 13, 2010


In comparison to the rest of the US, Michigan is pretty much a squash professional “dead zone”. There are only 2 full time teaching pros in the state (me being one of them) so club players virtually have no opportunities to witness the game played at the highest level first hand. Once a year, the Birmingham Athletic Club runs the Motor City Open. Scheduled for January 27 to February 1, this year, the tournament has a total purse of $40,000 which, although a pretty hefty sum, is around middle of the range as far as prize money goes. To attract a good percentage of the top ten ranked players, tournaments need to offer at least $80,000, and as far as I know, there are only 3 tournaments in North America that achieve that status. Still, the Motor City Open is hardly void of talent.

Leading the pack this year and going in as the number one seeded player is Egyptian Karim Darwish. Darwish is currently ranked 5, although at the time the entries for this event closed in December, he was world number 1. The second seed is Frenchman Thierry Lincou who is currently ranked 9, but also held the number 1 ranking back in 2005. Next on the list is Malaysian Azlan Iskander, ranked 17, and rounding off the top 4, ranked 22, Olli Tuominen from Finland who won the event in 2007. Providing some patriotic interest this year, American Julian Illingworth (ranked 30) comes in as the 5th seeded player and is scheduled to meet Iskander in the quarter-final. This could be the perfect opportunity for Julian to reach a semi final of large event as Iskander can be a little inconsistent at times and Illingworth is poised to start claiming some top 20 scalps.

Every player in the main draw is in the world top 50. (Except for the BAC pro, Julian Wellings, who goes in as the tournament ‘wild card’. Back in the day when Julian was on the tour, he did reach the top 50 himself, so he no slouch!) Every player in the qualifying draw (except the four ‘local’ players) is in the top 100. Top class squash is guaranteed from the first match in the qualifying, all the way to the final.

I will also be playing in the qualifying event on Wednesday, January 27 – although I will not know when or against who until the morning of, when the qualifying draw is done.

Do I have you licking your lips wanting to get a glimpse of these players in action?? Or at least a chance to see me be on the opposite end of a “challenge the pro”? For ticket prices and availability, you must contact the BAC. E-mail Julian at and visit the tournament website at . I do have a couple of special ticket offers for those interested. On the Wednesday night of round 1 qualifying (when I will be playing) if 10 people sign up, we can get the seats for $25 each, including a free beer. Please e-mail me for that special offer. For all other days, please e-mail Julian.

I will be needing your support – and so does the event. Take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity.


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