Steve Cubbins @ Sunset Beach
01-Dec: In the Tent Tonight
Opening Dinner should be quite something - it's to be held in a
rather large marquee on the beach in front of the Sunset Beach
restaurants and function rooms.
There will be a few attractions apparently, including Camel
rides for those brave enough.
64 players in the draw, accommodation at Sunset Beach is
limited so the Golden Tulip Hotel is also being used this
"The hotel's only 7 minutes away from Sunset Beach," we were
assured," and no traffic signals to go through either."
Excellent. Yes, we know that people often tend to underestimate
timings like this, but even so, 10 minutes or so would be more
Except that Robert Edwards and I timed our first morning trip
from Hotel to Venue, and it was 22 minutes, and traffic
on the return trip made it a fair bit longer than that. Not such
good news then.
Hadi Midri, who has been the master court builder here in
Saudi since the year dot, didn't believe us. "No, 10, 11 minutes
maximum," he claimed.
We challenged him to time himself on his next run, which he did,
but his "10 or 11 minutes" wasn't convincing. "You'd need a
helicopter to do it in that time," we joked, having had our
timing confirmed on two more trips.
Still Hadi wouldn't have it, so on Tuesday morning he offered to
take me there and back to prove it one way or the other.
Now Hadi drives fast, and he changes lanes like an Egyptian
(he's Lebanese), so he would shave a minute or two off our time
due to that, but nevertheless, I was able to get back to
Robert's office and declare the result.
"So we were right," beamed the Voice of Squash.
"Not exactly," I replied. "24 minutes there and back."
Turns out that our driver was turning the wrong way out of the
hotel, the wrong way out of Sunset Beach, taking us inland
around two sides of a triangle through the centre of town, while
the best route is a straight road down the coast with virtually
no traffic or holdups.
You live and learn ...
No Sunsets yet ... but some nice night views ...
Black and White BALLS
there's a major tournament, PSA and Dunlop provide the official
balls, and here in Saudi is no exception.
In the tournament office was a substantial box which, on
inspection contained 16 boxes of balls - at a dozen per box
that's 192 balls, more than enough for even a 64-draw event
which will see 63 matches played and a lot of practice sessions.
Of course, some of the early rounds are on the traditional
glassbacks (29 to be exact), so a mixture of Black and White
balls are needed.
we counted out the boxes ... 1 black, 1 white, 2 white, 3 white,
4 white, 5 white, 6 white ... where's the blacks ... 7 white, 8
white, 9 white ... ... we got to 14 white and finally ... 2
24 black balls for 29 matches, 168 white balls for 34 matches.
That's a bit of a problem ...
Fortunately riding to the rescue came our friends Samer Al-Khateeb
of the Saudi Squash Federation, who had a supply of black balls
he could bring down with him from Riyadh.
He duly arrived the next morning, with more black balls than you
can shake a stick at ... problem solved, thanks Samer !
It's a hard life on the PSA Tour