We Ask The Pro’s: Strung Out

In our first “ask the pro’s” blog post, we collected the thoughts of some top pro’s on the subject of string. The results have show some fascinating finds and interesting reading to say the least. Thanks goes to all the pro’s below who took the time to share their insights! Here’s what they said…

Marwan El Shorbagy – 2 time World Junior Champion, Current World No. 28

  1. What strings are you currently using? Tecnifibre black string 1.2
  2. How often do you break strings? I break them once a week
  3. Who strings your rackets? I prefer to string my racket here in Egypt with the coach at my club but if not I string them during tournaments
  4. What tension do you have your rackets strung at? 27pounds
  5. Does this tension ever change? i.e. for a tournament or training? No I prefer to keep it the way it is, otherwise I will struggle to go for shots so all my racket have to be the same tension
  6. Whats the most popular string on the tour you have seen? Tecnifibre
  7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? Sometimes I change the tension if I change my racket, if if i use a light racket i will make my strings very tight, if i use a heavier racket then my strings will be a bit loser
  8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? No will have to use a different one
  9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? Fresh strings.. but I must try them once before at least i use them during a match.

Saurav Ghosal – Indian No.1, Current World No.20

  1. What strings are you currently using? Tecnifibre X-One Biophase 1.18
    2. How often do you break strings? Every 2 days!
    3. Who strings your rackets? Sam Wileman in England and a few shops in India.
    4. What tension do you have your rackets strung at? 26-30 lbs depending on the stringing machine.
    5. Does this tension ever change? i.e. for a tournament or training…? Nope. Tension always stays the same.
    6. What’s the most popular string on the circuit you’ve seen? Probably the Tecnifibre Green string.
    7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? Yes of course. It’s very important that your racket is strung to best leverage your style of play.
    8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? Try my best to stick with one stringer.
    9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? Considering I break them every 2 days, fresh strings are probably better!

Paul Rawden – Current World No.209

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  1. What strings are you currently using? Tecnifibre Biphase 1.18
  2. How often do you break strings? Once every 3 weeks
  3. Who strings your rackets? I do
  4. What tension do you have your rackets strung at? 31lbs
  5. Does this tension ever change? i.e. for a tournament or training? Training at 28lbs. Harder to control then when in match easier to hit shots
  6. What’s the most popular string on the circuit you’ve seen? Green Tecnifibre
  7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? Yes, any loser and I couldn’t hit the flippin’ ball straight
  8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? I occasionally have to but prefer not to.
  9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? I prefer to wear it in before a serious match or tournament.

Ramy Ashour – Current World No.1

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  1.  What strings are you currently using? I use any string which i feel comfortable using ,i am flexible with that,as i keep on switching between strings…
    2. How often do you break strings? Breaking strings cant have a certain time! I think my ratio is as normal as any other player. I have new strings every 2/3 weeks maybe.
    3. Who strings your rackets? A guy called mahroos…
    4. What tension do you string your rackets at? 11.3 kg tension
    5. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? No its always the same
    6. What’s the most popular string on the circuit you’ve seen? They r all good respectful brands which i believe have works with every player differently
    7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? The way its strung has to fit the way i hit the shot and the way i feel the string impact in my wrist.
    8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? Life on tour and the nature if our game teaches u to adapt with every thing.
    9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? Doesn’t matter really for me, it feels almost the same, but u have to know that when it’s freshly strung the ball is more reactive as it touches the strings and its slower when its been worn out or used a lot.

Lauran Massaro – Current World No.2

Laura Massaro - WSA No.2 Ranked Player

  1.  What strings are you currently using? RAB Sensor Fibre. Green down, yellow across.
  2. How often do you break your strings? 1 a month
  3. Who strings your rackets? Me!
  4. What tension do you have your rackets strung at? 29lbs
  5. Does this tension ever change? i.e. for a tournament or training…  No it always stays the same.
  6. Whats the most popular string on the circuit you’ve seen? Not sure…but RAB are the best!
  7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play?  
  8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? I always string all my rackets before I go.
  9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? Slight worn in.

Sarah-Jane Perry

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  1. What strings are you currently using?  Soon to be RAB Sensor Fibre
  2. How often do you break your strings? Twice a week
  3. Who strings your rackets? Me
  4. What tension do you have your rackets strung at? 30lbs
  5. Does this tension ever change? No it stays the same.
  6. Whats the most popular string on the circuit you’ve seen? Tecnifibre
  7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? Yes, the tension is just how I like it.
  8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? I try and do my own unless its an emergency.
  9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? Freshly strung

Tory Temple-Murray

tory temp murray

  1. What strings are you currently using? RAB Sensor Fibre
  2. How often do you break your strings? Every 6-8 weeks
  3. Who strings your rackets? My coach
  4. What tension do you have your rackets strung at? 27lbs
  5. Does this tension ever change? No
  6. Whats the most popular string on the circuit you’ve seen? Tecnifibre
  7. Do you match the way the racket is strung to your style of play? Yeah the is just how I like it.
  8. Do you stick with one stringer or use different stringers when on tour? Just my coach
  9. Do you prefer using a racket with fresh strings or slightly worn in? Worn in
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Jonah Barrington: Time Waits For No Man

On our second blog post from the squash legend Jonah Barrington, we talked about how long the current English professionals need to stay at the top for. Here’s what Jonah had to say…

Jonah: I suppose the big question is how long do these guys have to stay at the top for? We know that James has come through mental hardship during his career and come out the other side now. Nick and James have had this rivalry that’s allowed them to feed off each other. This has fed the motivational factor for other professionals around the world and they have responded. Like Gaultier and Shabana for instance. Really it’s amazing the way the older pros have surprised and prospered over the years.

James Willstrop

It could be said that these are the twilight years with it being the best period for them. The prime time has gone but they have all feed off each other. For Nick and James in particular the story has been a transfusion for the game.

So how long can these guys go on for given good health? Well their minds are amazingly strong to pursue sport at the highest level. The question is when will the lessening of the mobility occur and do we have anything coming through the pipeline!? All these top guys are promoting the cause but they won’t be there at 2020.

Nick Matthew

I think we all know that from the outside when Ramy is fully fit he is definitely the world number 1. But he does have to miss events and falters sometimes due to the old injury syndrome. He’s a maverick of the game. With conditioning and sports science he would prolong the longevity of his career for the 2020 games similar to what Nick and James have shown through their careers.

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It’s an amazing testament to the characters of the older guys at the top that they are still at the heart of the game! It’s very rare that they suffer a serious loss in the first rounds. Shabana perhaps more vulnerable but his physical conditioning is better than it’s ever been. He’s a clever guy Shabana with a super squash brain. His racket is something to behold at times and with his renewed interest in physical conditioning he’s covering the court better than he ever has!

Daryl Selby

Put it like this, it’s an unbelievable act to follow this Willstrop, Matthew, Barker. Even more credit to Peter Barker reaching the status he had. Credit all through for these guys to the way they have handles themselves. With injuries and fluctuations in form and my god I bet the coaches are so grateful.

Jonah Barrington: Squash In The 2020 Olympics and The Egyptian Dominance

Squash in the Olympics and The Egyptian dominance – The latest article from Jonah Barrington

What are your views on squash in the Olympics as a whole?

It’s crucial to development and the funding of squash, not just in the United Kingdom, but even more in regard to countries where squash has made an impact in the last 10-15 years. In particular, it’s important where the sport wouldn’t register with the I.O.C. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed! From what I’ve heard, it’s the most comprehensive bid we’ve ever made. There’s been huge celebrity involvement and support and it will be interesting to see what their impact is. Squash has terrific support in all areas and that has been very surprising and rewarding to see and we’ll come back again if we fail. Squash always endures. This is the best position we have been in. There has been sympathy in the past in relation to previous bids, from the sporting world generally, but squash has listening to what’s required this time. They’ve added new technology and rules in- game. Boxes have been ticked to fulfill demands that have been made. It’s still a lottery though I suppose.

Roger Federer supporting the squash bid for 2020 alongside Nicol David

How would you see things unfolding if squash were to get in?

If squash was voted in, it’s very difficult to say how things would turn out. In the short term, I’m not sure how we would benefit financially. While the wretched word ‘austerity’ is banded around, it’s hard to predict. ES&R are running things well though in the meantime. In the long term, lots more funding will become available and we would benefit. I don’t think there will be an injection before this Olympics, but for 2020 the funding would come, almost certainly.

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How would this affect other countries?

The difference in other countries would be quite immediate to see, with coaches and schools for the provisions they make. The Chinese would become much more interested very, very quickly.

To what effect?

The Chinese look at all sports and assess what the validity is, especially when talking about medals and further prestige and there has been some recent success from Hong Kong. I believe there has been development in squash going on there, but I’m not quite sure exactly what.

How do you think China would look to achieve success in squash?

By their method of getting their children involved and just ‘having a go’. Regards the elite players, you’d see a more robotic process and the workload being huge as they have done with other sports. Nothing would mirror Egypt though. There are seriously big numbers in Egypt and it is because Egypt has so many juniors, added to the consequences of the work load, which results in the top level being outstanding!

Could we ever replicate something like Egypt has in England?

Our system wouldn’t be conducive to produce Egyptian type players, but we do want and are trying to get more juniors involved. With more competition from other sports to capture juniors it’s a difficult situation. Egypt has a very hard-nosed way of dealing with juniors, it’s ruthless over there. They can afford to be like that because there are so many; it’s only the top 5 getting funding. The fewer players you have, the more you have to hold onto them. Wales don’t have the numbers that England has and they would have to nurture those few very differently to what England would do. There is also the argument where it helps to have fewer.

The more junior players you have, the more your likely your chances of having top players at senior level. The bigger the base of the pyramid, the greater the chance of success later on, providing there are good building blocks along the route of course. Early introduction is important, the right kind of introduction where juniors need and want to play on a squash court -and look forward to going! Otherwise they just won’t stay the course.

ramy kpmg cup

There are short- term isolated challenges to the Egyptian champions from elsewhere though. Squash is finding its feet in other countries. You’re going to get an individual player who will turn up like for example, Diego Elias from Peru, who won the British Juniors earlier this year. But there won’t be a rival to Egypt in regard to numbers, this also relates to the girls. There is total dominance from Egypt, with the best from the rest at the British Junior Open. They flood into the quarter- finals and the 5 selected get very close to the last 8. You see it again and again, 4 Egyptians in the semi-finals. Although, you do get the odd one in isolation.

What about the Pakistani’s?

They used to always rival the Egyptians.

The Pakistani system is in a state of flux, sadly, without any events being sanctioned by the professional bodies because of the security threat. Again, at a distance, I’m not sure of the domestic programme for youngsters in light of these problems. If one country could have done an Egypt it would be Pakistan. There are lots of similarities between the two as squash courts are considered a safe haven. A lot of poorer children get the opportunity to go to squash courts and it’s a wonderful breeding group for top juniors and top seniors.

Egypt took a long time but once organised they have done a pretty masterful job. They’ve got their act together with a well ordered system.

As far as the British challenge went, where ever Malcolm Willstrop went squash took off. It could have been in the Scilly Isles and squash would have taken off! If there was a Malcolm in every County the squash scene in England would be totally different. The level of play would be unbelievable. There needs to be a catalyst like Malcolm, with an obsession for the sport. There were more volunteers in squash back in the 70’s and 80’s too; you don’t get the volunteers any more with financial impediments. Although, we have managed to do very well and rallied on in the men’s game.  There are 2 immensely dedicated players in Yorkshire, in Nick and James – and also the likes of Adrian Grant, Barker, Selby. There all still there at the top.

How will every one contend with the Egyptians?

Probably with our backs to the wall for a period, unless the Egyptian movement falters.  No-one would wish this upon them but the country is politically divided. What we don’t want is a wipe out without any of them contending. There’s always a disappointment if there are no English contenders playing in the later stages at the British Junior Open, but we do have a track record of coming through and maturing much later with players; proven by Nick Matthew. Nick was a good junior, but not outstanding. It’s an interesting contrast with James and Greg being very precocious and Thiery was never at the top end as a junior, but by the time Nick and Thiery reached their late 20’s they were immense, world class players.

The norm tends to be a later development and later maturity. Egypt is normally much earlier with more hours going in at a younger age. Regardless of who’s at the top, squash is evolving at a ferocious pace. It does make you wonder; what’s next?

305SQUASH: The FASTEST growing clothing brand in squash today.

The title says it all. 305 has become nothing short of a phenomenon in the squash world, taking court clothing to a whole new level with personalised, innovative and vibrant designs. Joel Shields, the mastermind behind 305, gave us a recent glimpse into his world of fabric and how he has woven a successful formula into his business, which has evolved rapidly since the 2011 English Nationals.

Tell us a little about 305….How did it all start?

Joel: I’d left university and set up my own design company called 305media. 305media was something that grew from scratch. I had friends i knew from school asking me to do some freelance work for them, so I was doing bits and pieces here and there. Word of mouth eventually got round and the company began to grow organically.

Peter Barker shakes 305 player Patrick Rooney's hand after he picks up his national U15 trophy

Peter Barker shakes 305 player Patrick Rooney’s hand after he picks up his national U15 trophy

How did this then branch off into 305SQUASH?

Joel: I produced t-shirts for the Nationals in 2011 for Adam Murrills, Chris Longman, Lucy Townley and a few others. They had “TEAM305” across the front, incorporated the players initials and “305media” logo on the back. I’d only done this as a small favour really, not expecting much from it other than possibly driving some more business. It must have worked because from that moment 305SQUASH was born. Adam Murrills had a good tournament too, beating Simon Parke and got through to the first round where he played Nick Matthew (the world number one at the time), which helped showcase the tee’s and lead to the first order from a spectator. It’s quite funny when I look back at that now, as it all started with those 6 t-shirts!

Why do you think 305 clothing has become so popular?

Joel: It’s really popular with juniors. All the juniors like wearing bright colours and having their name or initials on tops, actually not just juniors, adults too! We personalise all the clothing on request, so that’s a big selling point.

We’re in hard times at the moment and as a company, we do try hard to keep the prices as competitive as we can, without having to compromise with quality. It’s early days still yet, but once we grow things and test products, the quality will keep going up. It’s important to keep raising the bar.

Vibrant colour tees from 305Squash!

Vibrant colour tees from 305Squash!

From all the feedback, it seems like we’ve hit the nail on the head with what players want from their clothing. It’s comfortable, deals with the sweat, washes/dry’s easily, it’s thin material, which is ideal for playing in, especially in hot conditions. I don’t think I’ve had one bad comment so far!

It seems like the girls are really enjoying wearing the kit and being part of 305 too.

Joel: Definitely. I’ve had Lucy Beecroft and Nele Gilis wearing the kit for a while now, which has helped spread the word, not just in England. Those guys are great ambassadors for the game also, they’re fantastic. Tory-Temple Murray has also come on board with us recently which is exciting. Tory has been doing so well recently winning the Europeans and climbing highly in the WSA rankings, it’s great to have her representing 305.

Squash is likened to a close-knit family in so many respects and all the players are seeing each other regularly. The guys talk to each other almost daily, so 305 has spread all over the world! I make sure we help support the players over Facebook and Twitter too.

You’ve recently sponsored Laura Massaro who is a top WSA player. How has her endorsement affected the brand?

Laura Massaro - WSA No.2 Ranked Player

Laura Massaro – WSA No.2 Ranked Player sponsored by 305

Joel: It’s so exciting. Laura is a great role model for anyone who wants to make it to the top in squash. This goes for males and females alike of course! Laura is one of those players who have earned respect of others around her because of her professionalism. She’s an asset to squash above all else and she really likes the kit which definitely reassures people about the quality of the clothing. Laura is the world number 2 after all!

What’s next for you? Have you any new products coming soon?

Joel: It’s the end of the season now for us, so we’re coming out with a new fresh range for September. We’ve just released the new base layers which have gone down really well and the new shorts also. The slogan tee’s are already out, which I’ve really enjoyed designing and seem to have had positive responses from players.

And have you had any thought where 305 might be in the future?

Joel: Yeah of course. I’d like to see it branch out into other sports as I’ve already designed kit for running clubs, athletics and tennis, but my first love is and always will be squash. It’s a case of building things in the right way, so once I’m happy with what 305 have done in squash, we can look at other sports.

Saffery Suprises In The Irish Open 2013

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The Irish Open 2013 saw HTN’s own Deon Saffery storm through the qualifying rounds and provide the biggest upset of the tournament this week at the Fitzwilliam Club in Dublin. With a straight games win in the first round against local Irish player and number 3 seed Aisling Blake, (currently ranked 23 in the world); Saffery then went onto beat French player Coline Aumard in the quarter finals 3/0.

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Deon later came unstuck in her well contested semi-final against tournament favourite and seasoned WSA professional Madeline Perry. After fighting back in the first and second game Saffery showed her resilience and drew level at 1-1 in games. With a few too many errors in the later stages the match was then claimed by Perry 12/10, 10/12, 11/5, 11/4 in 55 minutes. Both players shook hands to a rapturous applause from the crowd, who had enjoyed watching the thrilling encounter.

With a current world ranking of 51, Saffery has proven her ability to match the top flight female players on the circuit this week in Dublin. At 24 years of age, it seems like there will be plenty more from Deon throughout the next few months.

HitTheNick.com – From The Beginning

HTN Reverse Logo

First and foremost, welcome to the blog. As a first blog post, we decided the pre-amble up to the point of “soft launching”, was a story in itself, worthy of the notable accolade “blog post!”.

As a newly established e-commerce entity, it has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. Now HitTheNick.com is live and kicking on the WWW, we would firstly like to thank everyone involved so far, for what could be seen as a “zero to 100 miles an hour” venture, created in 6 months. Not one to blow my own trumpet (well, maybe on the odd occasion) Hit The Nick has been an unbelievable mash of spontaneous thought, effervescent ideas and complete nonsense (at times)! If you haven’t yet seen the vibrant, glowing wonders of HTN then check out the site! If you’d like to email us with any feedback, send your mail to info@hitthenick.com. We value our customers and their input.

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HitTheNick is a free-flowing company, based in Cornwall,  that can now boast (excuse the pun!) a respectable range of popular squash and racketball brands. We  will continue to improve and through all of our design work feel that the evolution of the company is an ongoing process. On the drawing board are some bold, yet fabulous ideas, which seemingly, have crept into the brainbox by what is popularly known as a miracle!

Being a niche site dedicated to the cause, Hit The Nick is partnered with 305 Squash (for performance clothing), PSA Squash TV (for use of hotshots and mega rallies when looking at products) and England Squash & Racketball (offering a healthy 10% discount for all ESR members). We are always on the lookout  to expand our business relationships and build for the future ,so if you would like to link up for the better, get in touch!

……Back to the story in hand.

Hit The Nick has been an exciting challenge for us. The team has been provided  with unrivaled opportunities. Now the light is officially  at the end of the  tunnel, so to speak, it seems that an adventure has just begun. In effect, we’ve warmed up and are now at love all!

Hit The Nick is the product of an unassuming conversation with another like minded squash and now racketball fanatic, Peter Madsen. We mooted the idea of HTN over a coaching session and Peter must take the credit for some of the most pivotal ideas on the site, and the company as a whole. Peter could be described as nothing short of a enthusiastic whirlwind who at 39 years young, is a bounding energy ball, fizzing from one thing to the next! There has definitely never been a dull moment and we look forwards with in trepidation!

6 months passed, in what appears to have been an ecliptic blur of computers, squash, computers, meetings, more computers and phone calls; Hit The Nick has emerged fully functional (bar the odd error message!). In short, a swift learning curve! With plenty of gust in the sails and squash equipment in cargo, we are now working round the clock, to provide the squash & racketball world with a new dynamic.

I’d like to finish with the optimistic message that being a coach, stringer, player ( seems like a distant memory) and now retailer, that the site will be informative, bring quality products to the customer and will be worth the read into the bargain. Look out for some guest posts from the famous and influential along the way, add smatterings of squash brilliance here and there and the HTN Blog will shape up nicely!

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Keeping fingers crossed, squash will be in the Olympics by the time I’ve written a few more posts!

Here’s to a bright future with 4 walls and some red lines.

RB