We asked 5 questions to Alex Gough (WAL) - Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) :
1. You have reached the top 5 world 20 years ago, what has really changed since then on the international circuit ?
That feels like a very, very long time ago! The sport was very different back then.
The first three or four years as CEO were incredibly tough - we were just a small team of less than five people - one of the biggest changes is that we have grown significantly as an organisation and we are now involved in everything from scheduling, acquisition of new events, through to the membership registration to TV deal negotiations.
SQUASHTV was launched in 2010 , and has been one of the biggest changes. The technology - from court technology, to racket technology, camera technology amongst others - has made the sport much easier to watch on television and also for spectators in the venues. We are now able to deliver 500 matches a year, which means that we can reach many more people with a lot of great content and this should help to jump the sport forward.
We now have a much more structured Tour calendar. In my playing days we never really knew what events were coming that season and it was really difficult to plan anything as a player. We couldn’t give broadcasters a list of the season’s events because we didn’t know them! Nowadays, we can plan way further ahead and this is helping in lots of areas.
The standard of play has increased also. The players are fitter and faster now, they have more access to sports science and are more dedicated to full time training than 20 years ago.
The nature of the game has also changed. The influx of attacking Egyptian players changed the mentality of the game and made it more dynamic, whereas matches were much more attritional in previous eras.
And we continue to try and develop the sport every day: we have over 800 members and more than 200 events a year - there is always something to be done and it is never boring!
2. The PSA is in charge of organizing the international squash circuit, you are interested in the Open International de squash de Nantes since 2 years, you will be in Nantes this year, what does this event mean to you ?
Nantes is an exciting recent addition to the PSA World Tour and a tournament that captured a lot of attention in the last two years. We are very excited to see how the event continues to develop and what the future may hold.
3. You travel through the biggest tournaments in the world, what distinguishes Nantes, do you see this event as a banner of the circuit ?
The production levels - the staging, the lighting, the alternative approach to marketing and the enthusiasm from the organising team - were all traits that really stood out from the event last year.
The team behind the event have a very different approach to many other tournaments and are really focused on pushing the boundaries, trying new ideas and emphasising the spectator experience away from the squash court.
4. On September 13th, the Olympic City will be chosen. France being the 3rd nation in the world for 10 years, after Nantes, the team squash world championships is organized at the end of November in Marseille, what is missing in the squash to integrate the Olympics especially if Paris was the elected of 2024 ?
We have been trying hard for the past decade to see squash become an Olympic sport and many times we have been very, very close to getting Olympic inclusion only for the criteria to change or the rules to change. Despite that the spot has continued to grow and develop and I feel that we must continue to ensure that happens irrespective of the Olympic decision.
Of course, should Paris stage the 2024 Games then we have a golden opportunity. Because the IOC introduced the ability for host nations to choose sports that they want to have in the games - such as karate in Tokyo 2020 - we may have another great opportunity. France have a great history with the sport, some of the best players in the world at present and of course it is a Frenchman, Jacque Fontaine, who is President of the World Squash Federation.
Despite all of this history has taught us not to get too excited however. We will wait to see what happens in September.
5. A PSA World Series in Nantes, like a French Open, somehow, in the near future, is it for you an eventuality, would you support this project ?
Having a World Series Event in France - in mainland Europe - would be a great boost for the sport. With players like Greg Gaultier, Mathieu Castagnet, Camille Serme and others really achieving success for France at the highest level, and other players like Simon Rösner and Borja Golán at the top of their games for Germany and Spain, a mainland European World Series Event would give these kind of players a great platform. There is also a large squash playing audience in Europe who currently don't have the chance to easily attend a World Series event.
We asked 5 questions to Millie Tomlinson (ENG) - N°1 Seed et world N°23 :
1. Millie, that will be the first time you come to Nantes. There are quite a few PSA tournaments in France. Have you ever participated or even won a competition in France ?
Yes, this is my first time in Nantes. I have played in France many time and always enjoyed the experience. I have never won a tournament here though !
2. You're English and I think you studied abroad. Do you continued squash during this period ? Is it possible to tell us a little bit more ?
I studied at Yale university in America, where I trained a lot and studied political science.
3. Your top half of the draw includes many young talents : All the Egyptian junior team, recently world junior champion, not forgetting the young French Wildcard, in the 1st round : Juile Rossignol. Would not all these young talents risk making your tournament more tougher ?
It's a very strong draw, so every round will be tough. It should be a great event for the spectators.
4. If you win your 1st round, the rest of your matches will take place on the glass court. The women's competition is only a modest $15,000, playing on a glass court is rather rare. How do you feel the game ? Is there a big difference, for you, with "classic" courts ?
The glass courts tend to be a little faster, it's harder to see and volley the ball, and they reward good shots because they are more dead in the corners. It's always fun playing on a glass court, and hopefully the atmosphere will be great.
5. The start of the competition is getting closer. At a few hours of an important match, for you, what are the good habits to have before a match ?
I do my usual warm up, speak to friends, then 10min before the match I like to have some time alone to focus.
We asked 5 questions to Fiona Moverley (ENG) - N°2 Seed et world N°28 :
1. Fiona, it's wonderful to see you registered at the Open International de squash de Nantes. You travel a lot around the world on the world tour. Have you ever competed in a professional competition in France in your career ?
Yes I have completed in a few and have actually won a tour title in France : Open International des Volcans in 2015 (in Clermont-Ferrand).
2. You stoped your career for almost 5 years, you've been back on the world tour since 2014. What did you make during this break ?
During my time away from the tour I was working full time in sport. I was in charge of all of the primary and secondary schools sports programmes and ran all of the local and regional competition. We had an extensive tournament calendar giving children of all ages and abilities access to over 20 sports.
3. Where is your home club ? And who are your main coaches and training partners ?
I play at 3 clubs in my local city of Hull. Hull & East Riding squash club where I play for the Yorkshire league team. Ferriby Hall squash club where I do a lot of my on court training. And also University of Hull where I train on court and also do my strength and conditioning training with support from their sports science team. My coach is Andy Cockerill and I train a lot of my own but we also have a lot of young players in the area that are great to train with.
4. You recently succeed a great result at the World Games in Wroclaw reaching the semifinals (failing against the world number 3 : Camille Serme). But most of all, you won the N°1 seed of the upcoming competition in Nantes : Millie Tomlinson. Tell us a little bit about this performance ... Does that put you in confidence to win the tournament ?
I had a great week at the World Games and enjoyed playing in a tournament as preparation for the coming season. I've played Millie a couple of times on the tour and she has beaten me so it was really important to me that I got the win this time. It has given me more confidence going into the tournament in Nantes but I will be concentrating on each round at a time because the draw is very strong and I won't be taking anything for granted.
5. You got your first selection in the England team this year, your team even won the title of the European Team Championship (against the French team in the final). What are your future goals after this nice performance ?
It was a privilege to represent my country and wear the England shirt and be part of the Winning European champs team. I'd love to further this achievement and represent England in more international tournaments including the commonwealth games next year.
We asked 5 questions to Mazen Hesham (EGY) - N°3 Seed et world N°30 (PR) :
1. Mazen, that will be the very first time you will participate in the Open International de squash de Nantes. Why did you decide to come to this 3rd edition ?
Well I have heard a few good things about the tournament last year and watched a little bit on squashtv. saw a great crowd watching and support ting the players which gives the tournament a special atmosphere...plus I haven't been to France since I was 12. So thought it would be a good opportunity to play a nice tournament there and enjoy France on the other hand.
2. You had a very difficult 2016 year with a hip injury that prevented you from continuing many tournaments for quite a while. You make your "come back" to Nantes, do you think you will be at your best level ?
I'm still struggling a little bit after the injury sometimes I feel I'm in great shape and some other days I feel like I'm still far from my form. I think it's kind of mental thing which happens to everyone who comes back from a major injury. But I'm hoping that I will be at my best level next season and Nantes is the start of it so I will try my best to get in the best shape for tournament.
3. You are seeded N°3. Grégoire Marche and Mathieu Castagnet are the two big favorites of the competition. They are both French, the public will be definitely behind them. Do you think you are able to afford to make the difference despite the influence of the public ?
To be honest that the last thing I'm thinking about while entering in a tournament. I don't know about that but I always think that I'm able to do anything ;) so will see.
4. Do you often encounter this kind of situation on the world tour ?
No, I rarely face those situations in tournaments.
5. What are the professional goals you set in squash ?
I have always dreamt of becoming the world champion and the world number 1 before I retire. So will see how far I can go.
We asked 5 questions to Nicolas Mueller (SUI) - N°4 Seed et world N°32 :
1. Nicolas, you had unfortunately to withdraw a few days before the start of the competition last year. This time, everything is looming well, we should see you on the glass court under the naves this year. Tell us a little bit, what happened last year ?
I had a very good summer preparation last year, but unfortunately 2 weeks before the event I pulled a muscle in my adductor which didn't heal in time to be able to play last years event.
2. Has your preparation been successfully these last months ? How do you feel at the approach of the first tournament of the season ?
It was quite a long preparation this year, had basically 2,5 months time. Did a lot of new stuff, like cycling and track and field things. I'm feeling very fit snd hopefully Nantes will be a good start to my new season.
3. You are a very tall player : 1m88 ! You are, almost, the tallest of the competition (behind the English giant Declan James : 1m95). Do you often exploit it in your game ? Do you think this gives you a real advantage against some opponents ?
There are Pros and Cons. On one hand you have bigger reach and need less steps, but on the other you have to carry extra weight and twisting and turning might be a bit more challenging. In all I think being tall definitely helps.
4. With Grégoire Marche (double title holder), you have both played in the same team in Valence in France for many years. How long have you known each other ? Have you ever trained regularly together ?
I've known Greg since we were 11 (!!). Thats when we first played each other. dont think he has good memories about that match :)
5. You finished your season with two great performances on the world tour : the Grasshopper Cup where you reached the quarterfinals by narrowly missing (in 5 games) against the current world N°3 : Mohamed El Shorbagy, then you left the qualifications of the M100 Bellevue Classic (in the USA) winning César Salazar (Mexican, in the top 20) in the final. This should surely build you confidence at the approach of this 1st tournament of the season. To win the tournament in Nantes must certainly be an envisageable goal ?
We asked 5 questions to Nele Gilis (BEL) - N°4 Seed et world N°35 :
1. Nele, this is the very first time you come to Nantes. At the same time, there is some tournaments in China, why did you choose Nantes this year ?
One of the reasons I chose to play Nantes is because it's played on a beautiful all glasscourt, I thought it was a great opportunity and chance for me to get more experience on it so close to home !
2. You are 2 sisters on the world tour, Tinne and you. A few years apart, you have achieved the same course in junior. Tinne will also participate in the qualification draw of the Nantes Open this year. Do you share a lot of things in your lives ? Sometimes, do you train together ?
My sister lives in Belgium and I live in the Netherlands so we don't get to train together a lot, but we're close and when we play the same tournament together we will travel together, stay together and of course train together :) it's nice to have the sister at tournaments, someone that will cheer for you no matter what!
3. You are seeded number 4. You play Hana Moataz, a young Egyptian, in the first round of the main draw. What will be your goal for this first tournament of the season ?
I'm really excited to start with the season, my goal for this tournament is just to play the best squash that I possibly can and hopefully my summer training prepared me well :)
4. What is the typical training day of Nele Gilis ?
A typical day for me... I train 2 or 3 times a day, 6 days a week. And in between I make food, eat and sleep. And if I'm lucky and the sun is out I love to spend some time in the sun in between sessions haha :)
5. If I'm not mistaken, you share your life with Paul Coll (note : New Zealander and world number 13, in great form on the PSA world tour at the moment). Is Paul able to support you in spite of your both professional constraints on the world tour ? By chance, will it be with you, in Nantes in early September ?
Paul won't be with me in Nantes because he's playing the tournament in China. We do get to travel to tournament together a lot, for example all the World Series events :) it's working out perfectly for us and it's great to have someone there with you all the time !
We asked 5 questions to Chris Simpson (ENG) - N°5 seed et world N°38 :
1. Chris, that will be the 2nd time you come to participate in the Open International de squash de Nantes. You were present last year, in the second edition. The glass court was at La Cité. What do you remember about this edition ?
The tournament last year completely exceeded my expectations. It was a 25k tournament, but with the venue and crowds it felt like it was a super series. I thought the venue was brilliant for squash, but I have been told that this years venue is even better !
2. You're coming back from a hip injury that blocked you last season. How do you feel for this new coming season ?
I feel excited to start playing again. I have had 6 months completely off court, and I know that getting back to my level will take time. But the break has reenergised me and shown me how much I love the sport.
3. Last year, you failed unfortunately in the final against Grégoire Marche. Seeing the draw, you should meet in the quarter-finals, if everything looks good for you both in the 1st round. You did not replayed against each other since this final on the world tour. That will have a look of revenge. How do you think to approach this match ?
Having had the time off, my full focus is on the first round. The qualifying draw is strong and no matches are easy on tour.
4. You are a native of the island of Guernsey, tell us a little bit about your young career. What made you become one of the best squash player in the world having started on this beautiful and small island in the English Channel ?
I started playing squash at the local leisure centre when I was eight and I loved it straight away. There is just one squash club on the island, but there is a rich history of squash success and a thriving squash community. By 14 I was the best player on the island, so at 16 I moved to England to a boarding school in Brighton to pursue squash more seriously.
5. You have reached the world top 20 in 2014. You are 30 years old ... What are your future goals for the coming years ?
I also got back to the top 20 again in January this year, straight before my injury. I feel like I was playing the best of my career when I got injured, so if my body is ok I believe I can get my ranking further.
We asked 5 questions to Hollie Naughton (CAN) - N°5 Seed et world N°38 :
1. Hollie, it must be your very first tournament in France on the PSA World Tour. Why did you choose the Open International de squash de Nantes for your first tournament of the season ?
It is my first PSA tournament in France and it will be the first of the season. Since last year I have heard great things about Open International de Squash de Nantes on tour and wanted to take part in it myself.
2. You are Canadian, but you were born in England. Where and how did you started to play squash in your youth ?
I moved to Canada when I was 10. I grew up around Barnsley Squash Club in England where my parents played. I suppose I had quite abit of influence from a young age. I started playing when I was about 7.
3. And nowadays, where do you train today ? Who are your main training partners ?
I am currently balancing my time between England (Pontefract Squash Club) and Cornell University (in USA) with my coach David Palmer. It's hard to say just one or two training partners as there are so many players in Pontefract and at Cornell that I'm training with.
4. Your first round of the main draw in Nantes will be against the Englishwoman Julianne Courtice. We know her very well, she reached the semifinals last year and she was one of the astonishment. How do you feel at the approach of this first match of the season ?
I am excited to get the season started after having quite a few months off for summer training. I know Julianne is going to be a tough opponent and I know not to take it lightly especially as it's the first tournament back for most. Just working on preparing myself and hoping to start strong.
5. If you win this match, you will play the rest of your tournament on the glass court (in an emblematic venue in Nantes). This tournament is a $15,000, you play a lot of tournaments in that category in the United States and Canada. Do you often have the opportunity to play on a glass court on these tournaments ?
One of the main attractions to this tournament was the fact that it is on a glass court. This is the second tournament in this prize band that I will have played on a glass court. It's a great opportunity to get some practice for the bigger tournaments. It's definitely pushing me to win my first match. Who doesn't like playing on a glass court ?!
At each fight, a referee :
A squash competition would not exist without referee : We asked 5 questions to Marko Podgoršek (SVN) - WSF Referee and "Tournament Referee" for this event :
1. Marko, that will be the second time you come to referee the Open International de squash de Nantes. You were present at the very first edition in 2015 where the glass court was at Le Lieu Unique. What do you remember about this edition ?
The obvious things to remember are the stunningly beautifull city of Nantes and the amazing venue , Le Lieu Unique. But the thing which amazed me the most were the spectators! First thing about them was that the venue was practically sold out from the start of the event, which is amazing. But even more important than that was their attitude. They saluted every player, win or lose, with a huge round of applause and sincere admiration for their efforts.
2. You're going to be the "Tournament Referee" of this 3rd edition under the naves, what role do you will have in the refereeing team ?
My role as the Tournamen Referee will be to assign referees to matches and to liaise with PSA during the event. Besides that it is my responsibility to assist in solving any problems regarding refereeing, should they occur.
3. A new system of refereeing is gradually installed on the PSA World Tour : Central referee + video referee. This system will be applied in Nantes for this 3rd edition. What do you think of this evolution on the professional circuit ?
I have refereed quite a few matches as a Central referee with Video referee and I have to say I really liked it. It makes it easier for the Central Referee to controll the match, yet on the other hand gives a lot more significance to the role of Video Referee, compared to 3-referee system. Yes, there's a lot more pressure being alone in the Centre, but a good Video Referee makes a lot of difference.
4. You are Slovenian, squash is not very widespread in the country... Explain to us a little bit : What made you become one of the best referee in the world in squash ?
Unexpected sequence of events, actually. Back in the day every country which participated at the European Team Championship had to provide one referee, regardless of his/her standard. Being just shy of making the team I was sent as a referee to ETC in Vienna, where I overheard Italian referees discussing a refereeing course with an English assessor. I took part in that course, subsequently got invited by the Italian Squash Federation to the World Junior Championships in Milan later that year and so it began...
5. We're a little bit curious. WSF referee, is it your real job ? Is it possible to be a squash referee at full-time ? Or do you have a professional activity in parallel ?
There aren't any professional squash referees. We get our expenses covered and with some extras, but to make a living on that is absolutely impossible. So all referees are either allready retired or have careers back home. So not a single one of us does it for the money - we all do it for the love of squash, travelling and meeting amazing people allower the world.
We asked 5 questions to Joey Barrington (ENG) - Iconic commentator of Squash TV, former world number 24, son of the legend of squash, Jonah Barrington (IRL) :
1. Joey, you comment all the huge events of the PSA World Tour, you came to Nantes last year, what did you think of the event ?
When i came to Nantes last year i was completely blown away. The organisation and set up was worthy of a world series event. I have never seen a light show and opening to the days play like i saw at Nantes. I feel tournaments wanting to progress should take note and watch last years opening show to the match days.
I also loved the fact that the crowds were full from the first match and people were queuing an hour early to get a decent seat for the matches. I remember along with my co commentator Simon Parsh, being swept up by a sea of people rushing to get their seats. It was reminiscent of the tournaments in the 80s when squash was at its full height.
The people involved with the organisation were lovely too. The squash tv boys work their socks off at events and they were looked after on a 5 star basis with respect and appreciation. That was refreshing and good to see.
2. You have been a former professional player (note : ex world N°24). Do you take as much pleasure in commenting as in playing ?
I got into squash as pro very late relative to my fellow pros. So i had to play catch with my training and experience of tournament play at the highest level. I loved the physicality of the sport but i did get quite nervous playing in tournaments. I think the next best thing to competing is sitting there watching and analysing it. I have never really had nerves when it comes to commentating and presenting so perhaps i have finally found my niche.
I love taking the sport forward with the developing Tv coverage and i like to bring a humour with a professional and analytical view to the game. I also enjoy the rapport i have with my fellow co commentators.
3. Squash has terribly evolved in recent years, how to stop the Egyptians on the international circuit ?
The Egyptians are going through a real boom they have taken the womens game to new heights and upped the intensity and the level.
They offer a huge amount of variety and styles of play which are mostly attacking and fantastic to watch. They come through at very young age on both tours.
The Europeans need to respond and i really hope they do as the world tour needs to be as international as possible for the game to continue to progress. Once the older generation of Nick Mathew,Greg Gaultier and Willstrop finish. There is a bit of a void.
I just hope the younger players of the other countries are hungry enough to see how you can make a fantastic living out of squash and take on the Egyptians.
4. In your opinion, what should be done to include squash in the Olympic Games ?
Squash ticks all the boxes for an Olympic sport and more. I just don't think this was presented well enough in the past.
We have terrific TV coverage now and extenstive viewing figures world wide. I feel the PSA should be put in charge of any future presentation as they are the shop window of the sport and have been solely responsible for its progression.
5. To finish, your father was a squash player, you were a squash player and what about your future children ?
My father is the Legend of the sport. I was never pushed or forced to play it. I enjoyed team sports more growing up but then i caught the squash bug halfway through my University life. It has been an amazing journey that has taken me all around the world. I hope my son plays but that will have to be his choice. Whatever he does with his life i will be eternally proud, i love being a dad! He is named after his Grandfather so we shall see.
Interview carried out by PSA (Professional Squash Association) - psaworldtour.com :
World No.34 Chris Simpson is aiming to be back in action for the Open International de Squash de Nantes, PSA M25 tournament in September after being sidelined with injury for the majority of 2017.
The 29-year-old from Guernsey has been ruled out of action since January with a hip injury but is hoping to be ready for the tournament in Nantes – where he finished runner-up last year to Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
“There has been a lot of rehab. I’ve been doing a lot of fitness work like biking and swimming for quite a while,” said Simpson.
“In terms of loading the hip, I’m starting to get there, I have been doing some solo practice and I’m looking to be on court doing some routines in the next week or so.
“It’s the middle of the summer so that has given me a bit of leeway hopefully in terms of the speed and progression for now but at the moment my goal is to be back in September and opening the season in Nantes.
"I have to say that the venue and crowd at the tournament was one of the best, if not the best, I have ever played in. The light show was brilliant, and it was great to have lots of people that were new to squash watching and getting excited.”
Simpson, who had equalled his best world ranking of World No.20 before injury curtailed his season, is starting to build up to full training and admitted he can’t wait to be back on court.
“I’m setting myself goals for when I want to be back competing on court on Tour rather than thinking ranking wise. It’s very difficult with the ranking because even when I come back and if I’m playing some great squash, I’m not going to have a full complement of tournaments throughout the year because there will be this nine-month period of no tournaments so as always if you play good squash then the ranking will come.
“It’s a frustratingly long process. I think beforehand I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be and how non-linear the recovery was going to be, so day-to-day it can be good and bad but overall each month it is definitely getting better.
“I’m starting to get back onto the squash court, which is something I have missed and I’m hoping the next stage of the recovery is going to go smoothly.”
Simpson had intended to play on despite the hip problem until April this year, but was forced to bring his operation forward after the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, held at New York’s Grand Central Station.
“It’s really frustrating, I felt like the last year had gone really well and at the time I was playing really well. I got back to my equal highest in the World Rankings and I had quite a busy schedule planned for the start of 2017.
“My hip had been niggling for a while but I didn’t think it was much more than a niggle and maybe didn’t realise the severity of the injury. Once I got a scan and realised what was going on in there it was time to get it sorted out.
“It’s a part of sport and I think when I look back it was frustrating but at the same time I had six years of being relatively injury free so I’m glad I managed to get those six years and hopefully I can get a few more.”
The qualifying stages of the Open International de Squash de Nantes will be held between September 4-5 at La Maison du Squash, with the main draw staged between September 6-10 at Les Machines de l’île.
The tournament also features a Women’s tournament offering $15k in prize money - a $10k increase on last year.
Tickets for the tournament start from 6 € and can be purchased here : http://uk.opensquashnantes.fr/the-practical-information/tickets,35.html
Action from the main draw will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Chris Simpson PSA Video Interview : www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTQAWOIA6qM
We asked 5 questions to Hana Ramadan (EGY) - Winner of the Open International de Squash de Nantes 2016 :
1. Hana, you won the very first women's edition of the Open International de Squash de Nantes. You will be back in Nantes to defend your title. What did you think about the Nantes' atmosphere?
I Fell in love with Nantes. It is such a beautiful and artistic city. Above that the tournament was really well set out and had a lovely loud audience. I'm really excited to come back especially to the all glass court and try to defend my title
2. The prize money increased to $15,000. The main draw will be stronger, you will probably not be among the great favorites ? What will be your goal this year ?
It's great to see that the prize money increased. It shows how Squash is getting bigger and bigger. Playing in a stronger draw will definitely be tougher but I love a challenge and have been training hard in preparation for this tournament. I'd love to defend my title but I'll take each match one at a time and focus on playing as well as I can.
3. Nowadays, Egypt dominates squash more and more. What makes you so strong ? What is different in Egypt to train young players like you at such this high level ?
I feel like at a very young age Egyptians are exposed to a very high level of squash. Having so many great talents to look up to there are higher chances of developing really strong players.
4. Do you spend all your time in your professional squash career ? Or do you do other things outside (study, work ...) ?
Although the main focus for me is playing squash, I am also studying physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham. I'm very passionate about it and would love to practice as a physiotherapist after university while playing on the PSA tour. Until I finish my further education I can't do as much as the full time professional but I can do the quality of a full time pro ! it's all about finding the perfect balance.
5. Beyond your coming in Nantes, what will be your goals this season on the world tour ? And in the future ?
I am aiming to get into the world's top 20, but my coach says he wants more. It's important for me to take one tournament at a time, and a big result in Nantes could be a great springboard for my ranking.
We asked 5 questions to Grégory Gaultier (FRA) - Strong support for the event, World No. 1, world champion 2015 :
1. Greg, a question now usual : You are currently world No. 1 in 2017, world champion 2015, at soon 35 years old, almost 900 matches on the counter and soon 20 years of career ! But how far will you go ? What is your state of mind today ?
I intend to play again a few years, I do not know how many, I do not set an "exit date" yet. For the moment I'm making a very good 2017 start after a frustrating year in 2016 because of many injuries, I was back up like a pendulum after Christmas and really motivated to hand over the i's. As long as I manage the small physical problems, take pleasure in training and competing, I continue.
2. You are European champion in teams and you have 6 consecutive victories in international opens including the mythical British Open. Do you have time to think about the post-career ? Have you ideas of orientation ?
I do not think too much at the moment but I have some ideas. Either to stay in the squash to bring my experience and my knowledge or another kind of job, one of my partners has already proposed to me to work for him.
3. With this extraordinary record and a career of legend that any professional sportsman could envy, what was according to you the recipe? Do you think you had to adapt your game or your training as new players arrived ?
There is no real secret, you have to be rigorous, disciplined, always on the lookout for detail, well surrounded, work with the people you trust, get to adapt constantly, be fully informed and communicate with his team. I had to adapt my workouts over the years of course, on the one hand because I age so exercises where you preserve a maximum my body and also get to adapt with the new generation of players, scoring that also changed during my career etc...
4. Nantes has now become a place where French squash is represented on the professional circuit. We have also been keen for two years now to create a staging around this playful and spectacular sport. Did you hear about the event ? Can we imagine a day before the end of your career having a world champion in our venue ?
I saw a lot of images from last year's tournament and all the players and PSA members told me positive things, that the organization was outstanding I even looked at some Grégoire Marche's matches on PSASquashTV of whom semifinal and final of course. I would like to one day be part of your show, I would be very happy to play a PSA in France especially with this kind of organization and public.
5. You who have known everything at the highest level in the world, would you have advices to the organizers of an open which wants to differentiate themselves in the eyes of the public and satisfy the players ?
Satisfying the audience, you already do with the atmosphere you create. Then to satisfy the players, it is just that the player feels good and that he/sha has only to focus on its match, to play good squash. Putting everything at the disposal so that he/she is performing, suddenly it gives a better show for the public.
Interview with Michel Bouvet - Poster artist of the Open International de Squash de Nantes
1. How did the Story begun with the Nantes Open ?
In 2014, Tournament Director, François Le Jort, calls me up "you work in the Cultural sector, how would you feel about working for a sport event, but with the artistic angle ? Would you be interested in the adventure and beyond?" Well, I had nothing against sport, I watch sport, I do sport, so... I was all for it.
2. Is it the first time you work in the Sporting field ?
No, I had done a few posters for Sporting events already, for Créteil for example, also for the Figaro Cross, not to mention the 2024 Olympic Games.
Well, let's say I use the same method always. I do a dozen ofsketches, with different concepts. It's hard to explain really.It's hard to imagine too ! I'm trying to have completelydifferent ideas on the same subject. For the Open, I'm fascinated by the venue configuration and the increase in the energy over the whole event ! The third year is decisive. For two years, one gets to know the desires of the client. But the third, you go one step further: you now possess the subject. One can juge the success of the communination of an event on the long term: a hat-trick, and you have a series !
3. Where do you find your inspiration for the Open, and how do you work ?
4. How do you master the challenge ?
The true challenge of squash is that there are only three symbols that characterise the sport: the ball. the racquet. the court. I have to use those three elements in different arrangements. Let's take boat racing for example. You can use all what has got to do with the sea. But for squash, it's very reducted. You have got to place those three elements in a different context: it demands a very methodical work to find your basic marks to make sure it's different every time, and avoid the repetition.
5. What makes a great poster in your opinion ?
That's a tough one. A good poster is a poster that answers the question. People needs to remember the poster instantly, it needs to make a true impression on them, so how do you assemble elements that will speak to many ?
Does the success of an event rolls off from a poster? That would be extremely pretentious of me to say. But on the other hand, abad poster can definitely wrong an event. A good programmation and a good communication go hand in hand.When there is fusion, then things click in the right place. People understand the importance of the poster. Not a long time ago, a Theatre Director told me "a play onlyexists one the poster is conceived". I find that conceptinteresting. As if a visual was actually insuflating life. The 2017 Nantes poster is easy to grasp, very plastic from anaesthetical point of view. As a graphic symbol, an animal is aformidable element, there is a sort of emphaty with an animal,more than we can feel for a squash racquet...!
6. Does a poster make an event you think ?