The BETARD WSF World Masters Championships 2022, a week-long celebration of squash with over 1500 matches played and 650 players competing, is officially over.
It was a long wait for Hasta La Vista, the largest squash club in the world, after the event – originally scheduled for 2020 – was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, though, it seemed the wait was worth it and made for an hopefully unforgettable event.
Saturday was an eventful finals day. Laurens Jan Anjema won the M35+ draw at the World Masters 2018 and it seemed the title might stay in Dutch hands with top seed Piedro Schweertman zooming through every round before the final without dropping a single game. However, in front of over 500 spectators at the all-glass court, a top-notch performance from South Africa’s Christo Potgieter saw him win 3-0 in a match he controlled from start to finish.
Afterwards, Potgieter said: “I want to thank the organisers for organising such an amazing event with so many players. It’s an amazing venue. 32 courts and this amazing glass court! So many players here and the support was just crazy today, so thank you very much for the support.”
There was plenty of success for other South Africa players as well, with South Africa ending the day with four gold medals.
Karen Blom won the W40+ draw by beating English top seed Natalie Lawrence and Samantha Herbert won the W45+ draw against the unseeded Lotta Vuorela of Finland. This is Herbert’s second gold medal after she won the W40+ draw back in 2016 in Johannesburg.
Their compatriot, Pierr Roodt, dominated the M65+ draw, winning every match in straight games to add a third world title to his resume. In 1997 Roodt was crowned M40+ champion and in 2012 he added a M55+ gold. Eleven years later, he can celebrate again.
It took even longer, but Sweden’s Fredrik Johnson finally has another World Masters title to his name. Johnson won the M35+ draw back in 1999 and now has managed to win the M55+ draw in Wrocław. In the final, the Swede came back from being 2:1 down against France’s Thierry Scianimanico.
There were also first ever titles for the likes of Derek Ryan, Nicolette Fernandes and Ivan Flores Vela. Ireland’s Ryan, the former World No.7 and International Testing Agency ambassador beat the tenacious Adrian Hansen from South Africa in the M50+ draw, Guyana’s Fernandes topped the W35+ group and Gibraltar’s Vela won a highly entertaining final against Germany’s Heiko Schwarzer in the M40+. The skillful and fearless Vela finished the event without losing a game in six matches to win a first ever title for Gibraltar.
The USA’s Michael Gough, who at 83 years of age was the oldest player in the tournament topped the M80+ finals group. Gough played the title decider against England’s Adrian Wright, who was aiming for a fifth career title. The match went all the way, with the American launching a spectacular comeback in the fifth game to recover from 9-5 down to an 11-9 winner.
England’s Ann Manley wrote Masters history as her triumph in the W75+ category – another player to win with a perfect record after five 3-0 victories – means she now has five titles to her name overall. Manley won one in the 60+ (2006), one in the 65+ (2012), two in the W70+ (2016, 2018) and now the 75+ draw.