‘Roger Federer of Women’s Squash’ Inspires Swiss Youngsters in Zurich
By: Howard Harding

Described as ‘the Roger Federer of women’s squash’ by John Williams, the Swiss National Squash Coach, Nicol David captivated youngsters in Zurich of the opening day of a two-day promotional visit to the tennis player’s home country led by the world number one from Malaysia.

Organised by the Women’s International Squash Players’ Association (WISPA), the visit included exhibition matches and clinics with the Swiss National Junior Women’s squad at the Vitis SportsCenter in the largest city in Switzerland. David, on her fifth WISPA Promotional Tour, was joined by Ireland’s world number nine Madeline Perry, along with WISPA CEO Andrew Shelley.

Vitis SportsCenter, one of three ‘Vitis’ Sporting Centres in Switzerland, was built in 1983 by former tennis legends Vitas Gerulaitis and Ion Tiriac. The impressive complex has 11 squash courts (including a three-sided glass show-court), plus 10 tennis indoor courts and seven badminton courts.

Cindy Merlo, an 11-year-old from Zurich who was recently crowned the Swiss Junior U13 champion, was overjoyed at her chance to play with Nicol David – the 25-year-old record two-time World Junior champion who next month is certain to round off her third unbroken year at the top of the women’s senior world rankings.

“It was very inspiring,” said Miss Merlo. “It makes me want to be like her. My ambition is to be European Junior champion, then World Junior champion!”

David was highly complimentary about the large group of young players she worked with, which included the new Swiss U17 National champion Fabienne Oppliger: “There is a fantastic level of squash here – their technique is all there, and they are hitting the ball well. They just need to keep working hard – keep going up and up, step by step.”

The large band of enthusiastic Swiss juniors then joined a packed crowd that had arrived at the club to watch Nicol David take on two-time Swiss champion and number one Gaby Schmohl, followed by an entertaining exhibition match between David and WISPA Tour rival Madeline Perry.

John Williams, the club’s principal coach and host of the day’s event, was full of praise of the WISPA girls’ contribution: “They fact that the sport’s top women professionals like Nicol and Madeline will give up their time free to host initiatives like this is exemplary. They were totally inspiring to our young girls and I am sure we will see evidence of today’s visit for years to come.

“When I heard that there was a chance to get two of WISPA’s top world stars to visit our club, I jumped at the chance. The visit attracted a fantastic number of players and enthusiasts – and has given the club a real buzz!”

South African number two Siyoli Lusaseni linked up with the Zurich party after competing in the Alexandria Sports Club Open in Egypt. Following the second day of the WISPA Tour in Luzern, Lusaseni will join Nicol David and the rest of the Squash group which will make a presentation to the IOC in the sport’s bid to join the programme for the 2016 Olympic Games.


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