The announcement is not only significant in the history of the British Open, widely regarded as the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’, but also represents the first instance in the professional era that a non-National has ever been appointed as a Wildcard for a major World Tour event.
Having earlier announced that this years championship will “fly in the face of the worldwide recession,” internationalSPORTgroup™ Chief Executive Officer Paul Walters explained: “Sometimes extreme circumstances requires radical action and I can assure everyone with an interest in the sport that our decision to award Jens Schoor the Wildcard for this years British Open, has been taken after careful consideration and without question represents the best interests of not only the championships, but also the players, our sponsors and partners as well as the sport in general.”
“The economic landscape over the past twelve months has changed dramatically and has affected all sports at all levels, but despite these challenges we have continued to work very hard to deliver a world class event worthy of the championships unrivalled heritage.
“We have received significant support from several partners and sponsors including Manchester City Council, England Squash & Racketball, HEAD Sport, Michael Spiers Jewellers, Imperial Consultants and ASB Squash Courts, and having remained in the marketplace seeking further commercial partnerships we were introduced to Michael Zehe of ROWE Motor Oil who expressed a keen interest in being involved in the championships.
“Michael has a genuine passion for the sport and is a great supporter of squash at all levels, including title sponsor of German Bundesliga team ROWE Black & White Worms as well as sponsoring Jens Schoor who is the German No.1 and one of the country’s most promising and emerging players. The support that ROWE Motor Oil has given the British Open has had a direct influence on us being able to achieve the Super Series prize level this year and therefore their support has been of benefit to all players, not just Jens Schoor who will have the opportunity to compete in the main draw.”
“We have had extensive dialogue with the Professional Squash Association (PSA) who manage the Men’s World Tour. Having explained our position and the opportunity available to us, we have been very grateful for the PSA’s support in recognising that as the Tournament Organiser we have utilised the use of the Wildcard in a reasonable and responsible manner,” concluded Walters.
The British Open - Manchester 2009 will be staged at the National Squash Centre and The Northern Club from the 8th to 14th September and will feature the world’s leading male and female professional players who will compete alongside the sport’s most successful annual Masters championships, comprising thirteen age-group events from O35 to O70.
Six time British Open Champion Jonah Barrington who established himself not only as one of the great squash players of all time, but as one of the Britain’s great sportsmen and arguably the sport’s most prominent celebrity, expressed his support of the present event promoters decision.
“No one is more precious or passionate about the British Open than I am,” said Barrington. “I do tandem championships with the World Open because it still has a wonderful feel about it and the awarding of a Wildcard to a player from outside of the UK needs to be put into context against the extreme circumstances that all sports currently find themselves.
“The most important thing is that the British Open continues as a flagship event on the respective men’s and women’s World Tours and internationSPORTgroup™ should be commended for the holding action that such investment in the event from outside these shores will provide.”
The announcement demonstrates the increasing international appeal of the sport and in particular the British Open and is a major boost for squash so close to the announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who will confirm on the 5th October if the sport has been successful in its attempt to acquire inclusion in future Olympics.
“I was very surprised and I had no idea that this would happen,” said Jens Schoor. “I am very grateful for the support of ROWE Motor Oil and its founder Michael Zehe and also for internationalSPORTgroup™ for giving me this great opportunity.”
“I am respectful of the history of the British Open and I am really looking forward to challenging myself against the very best players in the world’s most prestigious championships. I’ll give everything I have to repay the faith that ROWE Motor Oil and Michael Zehe have shown in me,” added the German No.1.
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internationalSPORTgroup™, promoters of the British Open, the world’s most prestigious and longest established squash tournament, have announced that German player Jens Schoor has been awarded the Wildcard for this years championships which will be staged in Manchester from the 8th to 14th September.