Squash World Series Finals 2013

January 07, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

England2013 ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals Jan 6th

England's Nick Matthew against Amr Shabana of Egypt in the men's final

Once again taking a weekend away from football I found myself in the elegant embrace of West London's Queens Club to witness the ATCO PSA World Series Finals 2013.

A reported global TV audience of 300million didn't quite match the limited seats laid on for an actual venue audience.  Clearly squash is just another sport yet to catch on here, but credit to Sky Sports for live broadcasting and The Emilia Group for helping to expose the sport to new audiences.

Yards of stretched black linen draped all around the venue complimented dramatic TV lighting and focused attention upon the imposing glass wall court in the middle.  Known as the Z-Court, it incorporates technology far too sophisticated for me to be interested in, but suffice to say it is a glass box adorned with translucent graphics on all sides thus allowing the audience to watch the play inside.
 
A foot-high strip of clear glass at the back of the court provides a narrow window for cameras to capture high speed and explosive power of the game.  Trust me when I say you never get used to a hard rubber ball being smashed right down your lens at 170mph, even if it is merely ricocheting back off the glass and not up your face.  The loud bang had me jumping a few times, especially when caught out chimping.
 
Malaysia2013 ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals Jan 6th
Reigning world champion Nicol David of Malaysia serving

The players are exhaustingly fit, displaying as they do the stamina of a draft horse and muscles precision cut from mahogany on a Holtzapffel lathe.  Their twisting body shapes and contorted expressions seem to make for a picture every time, and so the only real trick is to make sure you get the ball in the same frame.  This dull white blob the size of a large walnut fires around like a bullet and there's plenty of wasted frames trying to freeze it.

Malaysia2013 ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals Jan 6th
Nicol David of Malaysia successfully defended her title against England's Laura Massaro
 
I found myself throwing the camera left then right a lot, desperately trying to track players' movements as they zip unpredictably around the court.  I found I had more keepers when instead I decided to follow one player at a time.
 
Frames taken with a wide angle suited the size of the court and told the story well, but I actually preferred results when framing tighter on players' expressions.  This was especially good with someone like Nick Matthew (below), who possesses a brilliant stare and sweats like a pig in an abattoir.
 
England2013 ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals Jan 6th
World number 2 Nick Matthew (England)
 
I'm accustomed to field sports with many players and so from a technical perspective I found squash simple to shoot.  Sadly the lack of emotional displays from the players was disappointing; barely a smile to find even after winning world titles.  It could be something to do with standing in a glass box under TV lights and leaking water from their elbows for 60 tough minutes, I don't know.  Perhaps squash needs a John McEnroe or Mario Balotelli?!  Discuss.
 
A rare grin from Amr Shabana (below) meant this was one of very few victory shots, and not a great one at that since there was nothing photographers could do about angling to avoid the messy background.  Still, you do what you have to and get on with it.  Its great to see winners winning and lifting massive cups.
 
England2013 ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals Jan 6th
Egypt's Amr Shabana and Malaysia's Nicol David stand proud with their respective trophies after winning the 2013 finals
 
Since this was the final I only had two games to shoot and was definitely left with an appetite for more.  I look forward to covering more squash in the future.  This sport is definitely better than the drink (squash), whereas I couldn't care less about the verb (squash).
 
Squash.
 
 

 


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