CW Countdown : Memories …
BY ALAN THATCHER
Daryl Selby, Mathieu Castagnet and Nick Matthew recall some of their Canary Wharf Memories …
Daryl Selby, who featured in some of the longest matches in Canary Wharf history, will be returning to the East Wintergarden for our 20th anniversary edition as part of the SquashTV commentary team.
London’s favourite tournament holds many treasured memories for Daryl, who bowed out last year to George Parker having stunned Joel Makin on day one the year before.
The former England captain always enjoyed huge support from the East Wintergarden crowd and he said today:
“The Canary Wharf Classic is like no other sporting event in the world. As a player who had the privilege of playing there many times, nothing for me beat walking out to a full house at the East Wintergarden.
“The noise and atmosphere was always something to savour, with the gasps and groans as players we dived, lunged and fought on court. My motivation for winning was to try and get to play another match the next night to enjoy playing in front of a loud, capacity crowd again.
“A lot of my best moments on a squash court came at Canary Wharf and I will remember them for a very long time. It’s a credit to everyone involved in the tournament that we are at the 20th anniversary this year and with the draw looking ridiculously strong yet again, I expect some absolute fireworks this week!”
Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet was a very popular champion in 2016, beating Egypt’s Omar Mosaad in a pulsating final, and it’s good to hear the thoughts of someone from outside the UK for whom Canary Wharf holds such special memories.
“As you know, the Canary Wharf tournament has been one of my biggest successes and happiest memories on the PSA World Tour. I do not have enough words to describe how the 2016 edition impacted me. I can still remember every second of the tournament.
“I loved the atmosphere and the venue. The fact that the crowd is sitting so close to the back glass wall generates something extremely special for the players.
“On the court we feel a lot of support. I cannot explain how I won the final without hitting an unforced error. I was on a cloud on that day.
“Tim and the team do an amazing job and I would like to thank everyone concerned.”
James Willstrop and Nick Matthew both competed in the inaugural tournament and have played a massive part in making the tournament a successful hunting ground for English players, with 10 titles between them.
James won the very first final in 2004 and went on to appear in seven finals, winning four of them. Nick then overtook James’s haul and clinched the title on six occasions.
“Canary Wharf is a huge favourite of mine. In my opinion no other tournament, except the Tournament of Champions in New York, rivals the atmosphere throughout the week with packed out crowds from the very first day.
“Obviously I have had some huge highlights at the East Wintergarden but perhaps the most memorable was the battle with James in 2010. We are incredibly honoured that that match is still spoken about.
“What people perhaps don’t realise is what they saw on court with James (when he collapsed with cramp) was about 30 seconds from happening to me!
“I could barely walk off the court after our post-match interview so quickly had the muscles seized up and the next morning I felt like I’d been hit by a bus!
“How I backed up the next day to beat Gregory Gaultier in the final is still beyond me. That was my first title at Canary Wharf and was really the catalyst for the run I had in the years to come.”