I made it to my first British Open last week. More than any other pro tournament, it seemed like a family affair. The so-called Wimbledon of Squash apparently is an annual tradition for many parents and their children. (This is beyond the usual appearances by parents who also coach their sons, like Basma Elshorbagy, Paul Selby and Malcolm Willstrop.)
I had a great curry dinner one evening with Andrew Shelley, the CEO of the WSF, and his son Simon—Simon had taken the train up from London just for the night, before the long Easter holiday weekend with his own family. He tries to make it every year.
For some, the British Open was an annual take your child to work event. Alex Gough, the CEO of the PSA, had his adult son Jayden in tow—Jayden is now playing a lot of squash. Lee Beachill, the COO of the PSA, often was trying to track down his eleven-year-old son Ben. A spirited southpaw, Ben was usually found out on the glass court, giving players like Marwan Elshorbagy a warmup. Mick Todd, the coach at Pontefract, came with his son, Sam, the best thirteen year-old in the world. (I sat behind Mick during one of James Willstrop’s matches and relished the deep baritone clarion call of “Jimbo” that Mick issued a half dozen times each game.)
Seeing Ben Beachill and Sam Todd bouncing around made me think of the future for Afia Florence Campion. Each day she was a mewling, snoozing standby in a pram near the high-top tables along the right side wall. Her parents, David Campion and Sarah Kippax Campion, often had to compete with all the friends and family who wanted to hold the adorable six-month-old.