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Liz Irving: Great the way it is

Liz Irving, a former world no.2, one of the sport’s top coaches and coach to World Champion Nicol David is critical of the WISPA move to PAR 11

"Why does the club player get addicted to this wonderful game of squash? I have had a racket in my hand for 41 years – from the age of two – and I still love the game! I love what it stands for and what it gives you as a person. You learn so much about yourself as you struggle away: how to control your emotions, solve problems and deal with pressure. You are forever learning how to better yourself.

The women’s game over the last 20 years has been all about building credibility. The men in ‘my’ day did not want a women’s event attached to their events. We were the poor relations and were put under a lot of pressure to follow the men’s way of scoring (PAR to 15) – or we wouldn’t even have events in certain countries.

Later we decided as a group that this didn’t enhance our game or give us TV exposure or generate more top women's events. We felt that the time had come to stand alone and not be put on the back courts at men’s events. On top of that we believed that traditional scoring was the best way to ensure the quality of matches.

Today, I think the women’s game is great the way it is. The length of matches is right and the women are supporting their own events well. With traditional scoring it is always possible for there to be a great comeback. How satisfying it is to come back from 8/0 down and win a game ... especially the fifth! And on the other hand, how soul destroying it is to lose those matches. This is what makes great squash.

In all sports you have the defender and the attacker. Traditional scoring allows this to hold true for squash. You see a game develop strategically. You also see players rewarded with a point for good strategy.

Men are and always will be at a completely different physical level from women and shortening the women's matches will, I feel, detract from their credibility as athletes and generally. It will make the sport look easy – and who wants to travel to watch a ten-minute match, whether it be a first round or a final?

I also feel that PAR to 11 scoring will lower the quality of the game, as it will be hard sometimes to see any substance in a match. I have seen many of the top players throw games or matches when there is no chance of recovering a deficit – which certainly does not go down well with the paying public.

I find it hard to believe that people cannot understand the simple concept of winning a point when you are the server. Squash is an intelligent sport and there is nothing better than playing in front of an understanding, articulate crowd.

The aim of a unified scoring system seems to be to get squash into the Olympics in perhaps eight years’ time, which I would love to see. But if the move to pro scoring does not achieve Olympic status for squash, enhance the women's tour, improve credibility, increase worldwide exposure or guarantee top-level events, then I hope we can revert to traditional scoring before all that we worked for is lost!"

Liz Irving

--Interview by Squash Player