John Nimick on Selecting the Local Players for Qualifying
Selecting the Local players that gain entry not through their ranking but on other merits to the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions Qualifying every year is one of my favorite components of the event. This year I ultimately fielded more than 20 requests for eight men’s spots and seven requests for four women’s slots. While the women’s process was relatively easy with two clearly advanced US players like Olivia Blatchford and Sabrina Sobhy at the top of the table, Trinity’s no. 1 in the mix and a spoonful of young Yanks rounding out the list, the guys were a rugby scrum.
On one hand you’ve got aspiring Americans, silent or missing Americans, and aging Americans to cull through. On the other, you have a stampede of diverse international players on the way up, down or sideways, coupled with an occasional delusional veteran transplant, Subcontinent mystic, college bull and local pros all with a Twitter and coaching network. And as the East Coast becomes increasingly populated by international touring pros who also moonlight as teaching pros, the distinction between the two fades and the available talent just keeps going up.
Coach Assaiante, US Squash and various embedded sources all contributed to the selection process this year; a development that is greatly appreciated.
In the end, there is a top tier list that skews about 50% towards Yanks on the rise, gives a nod or two to some local Jedi, accommodates a college star and extends a hand to a couple of deserving veterans. Below that first cut could be any number of skilled, talented, recovering, dedicated players who would be an asset to any draw…if I only had room.