Tag Archives: James Willstrop

Squash: A Deception Game

To deceive someone is to cause them to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage. In the game of squash this becomes a vital thing. Being able to deceive your opponent becomes a key element in squash as it is fundamentally one of the best ways to win a rally. Deceptive shots, either by accident or by choice, create an element of surprise that will throw off any opponent. Deception is an art; a great strategy in the game of squash that highly rewards those who are able to master it.

Squash is a deception game. The ability to play with your opponent’s mind becomes a great advantage when playing squash. It is arguably the hardest strategy to develop; but, when successfully developed, it is the most rewarding one. Whether it is a head fake or a surprise cross from the front, any shot that eventually deceives the opponent will create more opportunities to keep adding pressure in the rally.

Most deceptive shots involve identical racquet preparation on every shot and good wrist strength combined with a fast racquet movement. The ‘hold’ on open shots will reduce the chances of an opponent being able to read the next shot. A player would ideally hold the racquet in the same position for as long as possible before hitting the ball hence increasing the chances of misleading the opponent. Also, a player can ‘fake’ the racquet movement involving a certain type of shot and then continue to hit a completely different shot. For example, a player could make it look as if they were going to hit a drop shot by lowering their shoulder, but then go on to hit a hard cross court by quickly snapping the racquet using their wrist. These combination of deceptive plays will create surprise in a player’s game giving them a big advantage against their opponent.

The element of surprise plays a big role in a squash match. When able to surprise an opponent during a match, players will find themselves with various opportunities to win the point. If a point is not won straight away after a deceptive shot, the opponent will have to use extra energy to return the shot. If the latter occurs the opponent will most likely return an open since they will be out of position due to the unexpectedness of the player’s shot. For example, if an opponent is expecting a drop shot and is then surprised by a cross towards the back, they will have to change direction and run towards the back of the court in order to return the ball. In this case they will be out of position when hitting the ball thus increasing the possibility of returning a shot than can be easily attacked by the player. These are great gains in a match since the opponent’s physical energy is depleted while putting them under heavy pressure. This has been seen throughout the sport’s history where some great players have shown incredible deceptive skills that have left their opponents baffled.

A great example of deceptive play comes from a Canadian squash legend and former World Number 1: Jonathon Power. Considered to be one of the greatest shot makers in the history of the game, ‘The Magician’ kept fans on their toes every time he played demonstrating an amazing display of deceptive shots. Here is a video of his most famous deceptive shot where he does a perfect backhand fake on the back of the court to then hit an amazing drop shot that leaves his opponent completely static (0:13-0:31):

Another example of a great deceptive shot is James Willstrop’s famous double fake against Ramy Ashour:

Deception pays off very well in squash. Any player who is able to develop a strong deception game will have a great advantage against any type of opponent. This is one of the most powerful tools in the game of squash and it is widely used in many different ways by the best players in the world. Creating an element of surprise on court is essential whenever an opportunity to attack arises. The art of deception is one to be acquired by any player who aims for a much better squash game!

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The New Squash Racquets from Prince Have Arrived in Canada

They were not quick to arrive but we are sure glad they have. Prince is set to make a real resurgence in the squash market. They have completely revamped their lineup for this squash season which is the first time they have done so in years. Ramy Ashour is endorsing a new racquet. There are some very familiar technologies in this years lineup; EXO3 and Power Ring. A new technology in the Prince lineup for this season is their PowerBite technology. There are also some familiar model names such as the Rebel, Pro Tour and Airstick. There are some new model names as well such as the Pro Beast and Pro Shark models. Continue reading

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James Willstrop at the 2013 Allam British Open

James Willstop Cameron Pilley and the Prince EXO Pro Tour Squash Racquet

Photo Credit to www.squashsite365.com/site/?p=17583

I was interested to see that James Willstrop looks to be playing with the Prince EXO3 Pro Tour Squash Racquet at this years’ British Open.  James is a Prince sponsored player of course so playing with Prince makes sense but he has been switching back and forth between racquets.  I have seen him playing with the Prince EXO3 Rebel, an old Prince Speedport and now the Prince EXO3 Pro Tour recently.  The Pro Tour is a little heavier than the Rebel but is slightly head light where the Rebel is head heavy.

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PSA 2013 World Series Squash Finals

PSA World Series Squash FinalsThe 2013 PSA Squash Finals have been extremely entertain thus far.  The semi-finals today look to be two highly competitive matches.  The first match between Gregory Gaultier and Nick Matthew. The second semi-final features James Willstrop and Amr Shabana.

Gregory Gaultier

Gaultier has been on in very fine so far this tournament.  In particular his match against James Willstrop was highly competitive and top quality squash. He managed to beat Willstrop who was the #1 ranked player of all of 2012.

Nick Matthew

Nick Matthew needed a win yesterday. After having lost his first match against Amr Shabana he found himself in a must win match for the rest of the group matches.  Not an enviable task but one that he took on and succeeded at.  He took advantage of the loose play of Shorbagy in his second match and closed the match in 2 games.  He was able to get past Peter Barker in 2 straight games as well.

The first semi is a very tough match for me to pick a winner of.  Nick had to win yesterday but did so in convincing fashion and did it in 2 games.  Gregory did not look up for his match against Karim yesterday and went down in 2 games.  Both should be on pretty equal footing physically.  I am going to pick Nick in a very tough match to go through to the final.

James Willstrop

James found himself in a must win situation yesterday as well having lost to Gaultier in the second round of group play.  He played Simon Rosner yesterday and managed to close out the match in 2 straight games and should be fairly fresh for today’s match.

Amr Shabana

Amr’s match yesterday was probably the hardest match on paper and it lived up to its billing.  He was up against Mohamed el Shorbagy who no doubt wanted was really up for his match with Shabana.  Amr had already qualified for semi’s but came out determined as ever to get the win yesterday.  Off all the players in this tournament he has been in the best form so far and is the defending champion.  Can he retain the title or did he expend a little too much energy yesterday?

I am really excited about the second semi-final.  Amr has been playing so well having gone undefeated so far.  Willstrop though is such an incredible tactician on court and may well be able to contain Shabana’s brilliant attack.  My pick is Willstrop in another tightly contested match setting up an all English final.

If you have any thoughts about today’s semi’s leave a comment below.

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James Willstrop – North American Open Champion and World #1

James Willstrop NAO2012 ChampionJames Willstrop has won the North American Open and regained the #1 ranking on the PSA Tour.

James performance against Ramy Ashour in the final was incredible.  Actually it was inspiring.  Having watched the match on PSASquashtv.com I was so impressed not only with James play but with his strategy.  He came in with a plan to contain Ramy, stuck with it, played beautifully and did what most thought he would not – win.

James’ use of height was what really won him the match.  If he was under any duress at all he got the ball high and in to the back corner and really limited Ramy’s ability to attack.  Tied together with James use of height was his use of the straight ball.  High, soft and straight balls that Ramy had to let pass.  When Ramy tried to pick up the tempo James was able to deal with it when needed and would slow it back down with the lob.  His accuracy on the lob was terrific.  He managed to get it over Ramy and forced him to let it drop and did not over hit them either having them come off the back wall.

How effective was James in executing his game plan?  How many nicks did Ramy hit? First report was none but there was one in the second game that was in back court.  Even that was not a roll out nick.  It took a funny bounce when it hit the nick and James could not get it back.  Not actually hitting the nick though could just be Ramy being off.  What really tells the tale of how effective James was how many front court nick attempts did Ramy even attempt?  I have not gone through and counted them but there were very few attempts. Why?  Simply put James hardly ever gave him the ball where Ramy could attempt it.

Congratulation to James Willstrop on winning the North American Open and on regaining the #1 ranking on the PSA Tour.  The North American Open was the first time in months where all of the top players in the world were in the draw.  James came through brilliantly and truly showed the quality of player he is.

James Willstrop is a Prince sponsored played and plays with the Prince EXO3 Rebel Squash Racquet.

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James Willstrop – The Hong Kong Open 2011 Champion

James Willstrop The Hong Kong Open 2011 ChampionAs I am writing this I am watching the final match of the Hong Kong Open 2011 and am quite amazed at the performance of James Willstrop.  The precision with which he plays is absolutely superb.

The first two games, in particular the second were very tightly contested.  James was so accurate with his shots though he really contained Darwish and gave him few good opportunities to attack.  Willstrop’s length was terrific throughout the whole tournament.  When he went short he did a great job of keeping the ball tight to the side wall on the straight drops and angling it in to the side wall when volleying more from the centre of the court.

What was really interesting in both of Willstrop’s last two matches was that the first two games were really hardly fought but he forced his opponents to work very hard and gave them so few opportunities to really attack.  The games were close in score but it was Willstrop who was controlling play.  At the end of the second game both Gaultier and then Darwish seemed to have been mentally broken and not able to mount much resistance in the 3rd game.

The performance against Gaultier in the semi’s was really impressive partly because of how well James played but more importantly was the mental focus that he showed.  The last couple of matches against Gaultier Willstrop has lost and has looked very frustrated with Gaultier during the match.  Their last match, at the World Open Willstrop looked like he had carried over frustration from their previous match.  In the semi’s of this tournament though he was incredibly focused and had put the frustration aside and definitely looked to be intent on getting revenge for the previous two defeats.

Congratulations to James Willstrop on such a dominating performance at the Hong Kong 2011 Open.  From the opening match to the championship match he never dropped a game and played brilliant, accurate squash.

James Willstrop is a Prince player and plays with the Prince EXO3 Rebel Squash Racquet.

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Nick Matthew – High ‘T’ Position

I am watching a replay of the PSA World Open 2010 final between James Willstrop and Nick Matthew on PSA Squash TV and impressed with Nick Matthew’s position on the ‘T’. He is playing such a high ‘T’ position and putting so much pressure on James. Willstrop won the first game with some absolutely astounding accurancy but had to work so hard to do it. The second game was close to about 5 but after that Nick opened up a huge lead mostly because of the work James has had to do to that point.

The high ‘T’ position really allows Nick to attack short when he chooses, especially on his forehand side. The width that James has to get on a crosscourt drive to prevent Nick from volleying it is unbelievable. He is having to nearly catch the side wall at the centre of the court to get it behind Nick. Even when he does attain that width Nick only has to take a couple of steps back because of the angle and still play it without really having to give up too much ground.

Nick is also using a great hold on his drives while being so high on the ‘T’. This is forcing James to have to recover so quickly to the centre of the court, because he has to respect the drop before being sent to the backcourt to retrieve Nick’s drive.

Nick’s use of the high ‘T’ position really put so much time presure on James Willstrop that it really broke him down by mid match. James did have a much harder time getting through to the final than Nick did which definitely contributed to the fatigue but Nick’s play truly exposed it. A brilliant display of good tactical squash. Definitely shows that value of recovery to the ‘T’ quickly to dictate play.

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Product Announcement – Hi-Tec S701 Indoor Court Shoes

What do Amr Shabana, James Willstrop and David Palmer have in common?  The Hi-Tec S701 Indoor Court Shoes. We have just received our initial shipment and have sizes 7-12 and 13 in stock. Be one of the first squash players to use these great shoes and pickup a pair. The Hi-Tec S701 Indoor Court Shoes can be found at our online store.

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