Corresponding from Canada
B.C. Open 2003
February 7-9, 2003
David Phillips, Kirsty Knight and Shahier Razik—What Makes Them Tick?
The Men's Open crown was taken by David Phillips (Montreal) over Andrew Lynn (Vancouver) 3-1. I had a chance to sit down with David and have a chat to see how he got to this point. Dave Phillips is 22 years old and has been playing quite a while, having won eight Junior North American titles. Dave took a couple of years off to get a band started called Rubberband. This band has been playing for two years and has released a couple CDs. The band has toured Eastern Canada and is getting airtime on the radio in the east. Dave mentions, though, that he is an athlete first and a musician second. He plans to have a go at making the big time—on the court, that is!
“Music is fun, but I'm going to have a go at cracking into the top 50 rankings to start. My World ranking is not the best , so I will just have to play in any tournaments that will give me a chance to qualify. I have a great opportunity here as I'm playing at the same club as Jonathon Power in Montreal and get to do drills and play with him as much as possible. Jonathon has drills that can benefit both of us and I'm taking advantage.”
Phillips adds his ideas for the future of squash in Canada: “Another step to help Canadian players is Squash Canada could make the MAA club in Montreal an institute for Squash. We have quite a lot of good players here and this would be ideal to get the first institute in Canada started.”
On the Women's side Kirsty Knight from Brisbane, Australia, beat Ashley Clackson (Victoria) 3-0. Kirsty has been living in Vancouver for approximately three months on her travels around the world. Kirsty has a different outlook on her game as she is now playing for fun and to keep fit. Kirsty wants to travel the world and squash is on the back burner. “I'm playing here because I coached one of the women's players here while she was in Brisbane as her husband had an eight-month job there. Without meeting Lisa in Brisbane I probably wouldn't be playing squash here. I do love the squash scene over here, though, as it's much more sociable than at home.” Kirsty had a top-five ranking in Australian Juniors and is a former Junior U17 and U19 Queensland champ. Kirsty is now 20 years old passing through Vancouver to who knows where it will take her (Pretty much the same ranking, same town, same club, same expectations I had 25 years ago traveling through Vancouver—different gender though). Kirsty will be heading back home in about six months to start University (she intends to study photography and a couple of different languages). Kirsty adds one more body to BC's already strong female contingent.
As you can see both winners have two different goals. So, juniors: pick which path you want to go on. Both look good to me.
Jonathon Power vs. Shahier Razik. Power wins 12, (14-15), 15-14,17-15
I decided to interview Shahier to find out his thoughts on his latest jump in the World Rankings. In January at a PSA event in New York, Shahier Razik beat Alex Gough (Wales World No. 17), Stephen Meads (UK World No. 30), Davide Bianchetti (Italy World No. 47), and, in the final, Graham Ryding (Canada World No. 23). Since this win, Razik has advanced to No. 35 on the World ranking list.
Shahier has finished his schooling, majoring in engineering, and is now able to put more time into his training. He says he plans to take the next three years to shoot for the top 10. While studying in Toronto he was unable to travel but kept playing locally until the opportunity came to compete with the international-caliber players. This time has arrived.
Asked his thoughts on the local national body compared to other countries and the answer seems to be consistent with most: other countries are more structured than Canada with regard to Institutes and organization. Players overseas also get a lot more interaction between the top players due to geographical distances. It's quite hard to achieve that same interaction due to the size of Canada. However, as pointed out by Shahier, Canada has some of the best facilities to train in and that could be a good capture for overseas players to come here and train and thus broaden the quantity and quality of players in Canada. One point from Mr. Razik, which astonished me, was he mentioned it was tougher in this country five years ago at the junior level than it is today.
There will be more travel for him now, and he will be splitting his time between Toronto and Amsterdam, the latter being the base to play the international boys on a more regular basis. A guide from Shahier to you up and coming juniors: get your schooling, play and train locally and then have a go at the circuit.