Monday, January 27, 2014

Nicol David Triumphs in New York



World number one Nicol David claimed her first Tournament of Champions title with a resounding 11-4, 13-11, 11-8 victory over world no.2 Laura Massaro on the iconic glass squash court at New York’s Grand Central Terminal here Friday. 

"The ToC is huge," said the Malaysian superstar after the triumph over her English rival in the climax of the WSA Gold event. "There is something in the air here. I get goose bumps every time I walk into Grand Central." 

It was a very special occasion because this was the first time the most dominant player in women's squash over the past seven years had competed in the Tournament of Champions and the first time in a decade that the two top players in the sport would contest the final. 

"In that first game, both of us were figuring out how the ball was going to play this evening," David said. "The ball got faster as we were playing, and I was able to play some good, low attacking shots." And the 30-year-old from Penang had notched the first game. 

Massaro was the attacker at the start of the second game. She took a 7-2 lead by playing more aggressively and moving up in the court. Just as it looked as if Massaro was well on her way to leveling the match, David dug in and began chipping away at the second seed's lead. The Malaysian champion reeled off six straight points to move ahead 8-7. Massaro evened the score at eight-all. At 9-10, Massaro saved a game ball but David converted the next game ball opportunity to open up a two-game lead. 

At the start of the third, the players exchanged points until David surged ahead, 7-4. Massaro fought back to 6-7 and then saved two match balls when her opponent took a 10-6 lead. But David was not to be denied the one major title missing from her collection, and closed out the championship 11-8 in the third game. 

"I wanted this title badly," said David. As far as I am concerned, she deserves it! 

I am grateful to Vice President Education Kevin Wu to let me have a speaking slot at Saturday’s Premier Advanced Toastmasters meeting in Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur. And I chose to deliver CC speech #10 – my thirteenth round – at this club and even I knew it was a good speech! The audience must have agreed with me because I was voted the Best Assignment Speaker. The speech had a simple title “Trying”. 

Indeed the speeches were generally good but the evaluations were a mixed bag of helpful feedback and rambling soliloquies. But the meeting was enjoyable and the mood festive. Club president Bernard Louis even gave away ‘ang paus’ (red packets) to everybody! I am going to be in a generous mood and give this meeting an 8 over 10 score.


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