SWITZERLAND SQUASH PROMOTION: Luzern Leg

Juniors Jostle For WISPA Stars’ Attention In Luzern
By: Howard Harding

The most successful junior squash club in Switzerland hosted the second day of the WISPA Promotional Tour of the European country when world number one Nicol David led the party to Squash Club Pilatus in Luzern.

Organised by the Women’s International Squash Players’ Association, the visit is part of a tour to Italy and Switzerland – including clinics, exhibition matches and press conferences – and immediately followed a day in Zurich. Nicol David, the Malaysian who next month will celebrate an unbroken three-year run at the top of the women’s world rankings, was partnered by Ireland’s world number nine Madeline Perry and accompanied by WISPA CEO Andrew Shelley.

There was a further pair of coaching hands as the pair were joined by South African number two Siyoli Lusaseni, who would be travelling to Lausanne with David the following day for squash’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Boasting a squad of more than 80 juniors, Squash Club Pilatus is a vibrant four-court club in the historic city of Luzern, overlooked by Mount Pilatus. Inspired by coach Pascal Bruhin, the club recently won the national junior team title, and nurtured nine of the 13 players in the country’s current national junior squad. Excitingly, plans are underway for an additional four courts to be constructed.

At a press reception in honour of the WISPA stars, attended by civic dignitaries, club President Marcel Schuler acknowledged that the visit was unique in the club’s 30-year history.

“Last week our athletes won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Swiss junior championships, and our A-team won the Swiss Junior Inter-Club championship,” explained Schuler. “And we hope that this visit will further motivate us in our efforts to develop junior squash.”

Schuler also paid tribute to Pascal Bruhin – “the father of our success”.

After popular sessions in which all of the club youngsters had the chance to be on court with the three WISPA stars, it was standing room only when Swiss women’s number two Sara Guebey challenged Siyoli Lusaseni, the country’s men’s junior number two Lukas Burkhart took on Madeline Perry; and the new Swiss men’s junior champion Patrick Miescher faced Nicol David.

“I was very happy with the whole event,” said Pascal Bruhin afterwards. “I knew all the matches would be close and I’m sure my players learned so much from their experiences. It’s fantastic to see such sporting excellence from these top world sportswomen.

“It has been a huge success and I am so grateful for what the girls have done for us – especially Nicol David. They had so many questions for her,” added Bruhin. “I know our juniors absolutely loved it!”

Michael Mueller, the Technical Director of Swiss Squash, also paid tribute to the contribution made by the WISPA visit: “Firstly, it is incredible that our junior girls have had the chance to play with these top world stars. Not only to meet their idols and to talk to them, but to be on court with them too, is a unique experience.

“They have also been able to see the standard of top women’s squash – and to have Nicol David herself here is a big honour for us. Not only is she such a great player, but also a wonderful ambassador for the sport,” added Mueller.

“And, lastly, we hope that Nicol and Siyoli’s visit to our country will end successfully when they present our case to the IOC to be in the Olympic Games!”

Andrew Shelley, the prime mover in the WISPA Promotional Tour concept which was launched ten years ago with the inaugural visit to the Czech Republic, concluded: “It may be stating the obvious, but youngster are the future of Squash, so to link up with large groups of them and their coaches thriving at Swiss clubs is very special.

“And for us to meet so many girls enjoying playing and socialising does a great deal for the top WISPA players who have freely given up their time and energy. The club juniors were certainly inspired, but so too were Nicol, Madeline and Siyoli.

“We were made to feel so welcome and have made many great new friends in Zurich and Luzern. I am sure we will do so again on our second leg in Rome.”

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