James Willstrop: It’s too soon to play New York for me

THE famous Tournament of Champions, played under the lights of a chandelier in Grand Central Terminal, began in New York on Friday for both the men and the women and significantly this is the latest event to make the prize money equal for both.

NOT READY: James Willstrop. Picture: Steve Cubbins./squashsite.com

More and more tournament promoters and sponsors are moving to endorse and support prize money parity in the sport.

This is a long event, it finishes next Friday and there are several split round days for audiences to enjoy.

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Heading the draw in the men’s event are Mohamed El Shorbagy, Gregory Gaultier, Nick Matthew and Amr Shabana. There’s no Ramy Ashour; he is out for eight weeks after an operation last week.

I decided against playing, having been targeting the event as my first after September’s operation. Too soon though to be throwing myself back into action at world level.

The world number one Nicol David heads the women’s draw, which is full to the brim of class. David won the World Championships before Christmas, in such dramatic fashion beating Raneem El Weleily in the tightest of matches. Top English interest comes from Laura Massaro and Alison Waters. Yorkshire’s Jenny Duncalf lost in the last round of qualifying. Harrogate-based Chris Simpson beat Cesar Salazar in five hard games to advance to the second round but had to pull out of his second round match with flu.

As he tweeted, this is bad enough at any time, at any event, but to lose the chance of playing in one of the greatest squash arenas in front of 600 people is upsetting.