WISPA Celebrates Silver Jubilee At Forexx World Open In Amsterdam
28 Sep 2009
Squash stars past and present gathered at a Gala Dinner at the Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA), the body which runs the women's world tour.
The event took place on the eve of the final of the Forexx Women's World Open Squash 2009, the sport's premier women's event which boasts a record $118,000 prize-fund.
WISPA President Natalie Grainger welcomed the distinguished guests, including HRH Prince Tunku Imran, Patron of the World Squash Federation (WSF) and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC); Mr N Ramachandran, President of the WSF; and former world champions and world number ones including Australians Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Rachael Grinham, English pair Martine le Moignan and Lisa Opie, Dutch star Vanessa Atkinson and current world number one Nicol David, of Malaysia.
Grainger, also a former world number one, from the USA, paid tribute to the founders of the Association in 1984 - and thanked those who attended the dinner, including Opie and le Moignan, and Australians Rae Anderson and Liz Irving, the former world No2 who now runs a successful Squash Academy in Amsterdam.
Messages were read out from leading players from around the world who were unable to be in Amsterdam, including Australians Vicki Cardwell and Michelle Martin; New Zealand-based Carol Owens; and England's Cassie Jackman - all of whom were both world champions and world number ones.
A feature of the evening was a special presentation made to long-serving CEO Andrew Shelley, who has managed the body for almost 15 years.
"Without Andrew, WISPA would not be what it is today," said President Grainger. Shelley added his personal tribute to WISPA Administrator Heather Hills, who, he stated, is the administrative heartbeat of the Association.
Former World Federation Vice President Prue Hamilton outlined the formation of the Association - and record five-time world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald, one of four former Presidents of the Association at the dinner, recounted her early days on the Tour.
Fitz-Gerald paid tribute to early President Melanie Warren-Hawkes - and noted the significant changes that had taken place over the ten years in which she was President, including all-glass courts, rackets, and the scoring system.
"We have had 25 great years of competition and friendship - and hopefully we can have another 25!" said the sport's popular ambassador.
The highly-successful evening concluded when HRH Prince Imran offered a toast to WISPA: "Congratulations to WISPA for 25 successful years. We look forward to the next quarter of a century with great confidence."