On court: It’s squash, but not as we know it! – Willstrop

James Willstrop. PIC: Steve Cuccins./squashsite.com.
James Willstrop. PIC: Steve Cuccins./squashsite.com.
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World number six James Willstrop has his say on the world of sport

Krakow in Poland was the backdrop for the second consecutive edition of team club championship finals in two weekends, after Le Mans in France previously.

Each winner of their respective nation’s finals weekend secures a place in the European Club Championships which this year is held in Nottingham in September.

The finals were played over three days at the Squash4You club north of the city, and then at a spectacular glass court venue in a square beside a shopping mall in the city centre. My team squash4you lost in the final to Simple Kahuna in the men’s event and Malaka squash won the women’s.

The Poles seem to want to enjoy themselves and don’t have any problems locating the nearest bar. Saturday’s men’s final was an almost otherworldly experience at times, and the squash matches were almost an addition to the merriment.

The sound system belted out a soundtrack of Euro-pop, dressed-up dancers everywhere filled every conceivable gap in-between matches with their routines. There was an MC who talked endlessly: in between matches, in between games, maybe in between rallies? Team managers were chanting, press photographers dancing. This was squash as hedonistic as it gets, a surreal early 20th century Coney Island version. So surreal at times I wondered if I’d been on the juice myself. All we needed was clowns on stilts, and fairgrounds in the sky to complete the picture.

Sobriety is clearly an afterthought here. They know how to have a good time, or at least how to have what they see as a good time. It made for a happy end to the weekend. No-one could say it was dull, that’s for sure...

James Willstrop, lefvt, in action against Mohamed ElShorbagy in Dubai. Picture courtesy of PSA

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