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Squashed out by hectic schedule

other Updated: Dec 16, 2010 01:07 IST
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Injuries and burnout, fallout of a hectic tournament schedule, are the major concerns for squash players as well as officials at the moment. After a busy four months towards the end of the season, the workload is starting to take a toll on the players.

Third-seeded Amr Shabana, who beat South Africa's Steve Coppinger 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 in the first round of the PSA Squash Masters here, explained that the sport was picking up with its rising popularity.

"There is hardly any time to recuperate if we pick up an injury," the Egyptian said. "There should be one big tournament a month, and smaller events around it. We end up playing six-seven tournaments in a month, which is one almost every week. Sport is just too hard today."

Shabana has not played a full season in the past two years, dealing with a shoulder injury in the later part of 2009 and a back injury this year.

"I have been injured for the past two years. But I'm playing very well now and maybe it is bad news for the other players," the world No. 6 grinned.

The world's top three men had pulled out of the tournament citing injuries.

World no.1 and defending champion Ramy Ashour sustained a hamstring injury at the Saudi PSA World Open earlier this month, while No.3 Karim Darwish and France's Gregory Gaultier were also forced to withdraw.

Malcolm Willstrop, who trains Indian national champion Saurav Ghosal in Leeds, said that PSA (Professional Squash Association), was looking into the scheduling.

"It's a very demanding season and players hardly get any time to spend with their families and friends. Injuries often crop up because of the hectic schedule,” the coach explained.

James Willstrop, seeded second and Malcom's son, has been travelling since September and hasn't been home for more than four days.

"The past weeks have been very tense because of the schedule. I want to get through one match at a time and am not looking beyond that," James said.

After a small break, the players travel to London for the World Series Finals from January 11, followed by the Tournament of Champions in New York later that month.

Lee Beachill, PSA COO, said, "We're trying to deal with the issue. The PSA World Tour has a tough calendar with five major events in the last three months of the year. And it's never helpful if the top names get injured."

But Saurav Ghosal feels this problem of plenty can be resolved.

"The end of the year is manic. But it's always better to have a problem of plenty than fewer tournaments." Ghosal earlier defeated Adrian Weller 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 in 40 minutes and will line up against Shabana in Thursday's second round match.