Self-Designed Black Knight Racquet and Ashaway String Help David Palmer to 4th British Open Crown
Ashaway, RI — The fourth time was the sweetest for Squash great David Palmer. Confounding critics who said the 31-year-old Australian would no longer be able to compete for major titles, the fifth-seeded Palmer beat England’s James Willstrop in an epic final to claim his fourth British Open men’s squash title in Liverpool. The match proved to be one of the most dramatic in the 80-year history of the prestigious event and a major boost for the Lithgow, NSW, native, who had slipped from No. 2 to No. 6 in the world rankings after moving to the US with his young family.
Palmer saved two championship balls before beating fourth-seeded Willstrop 11-9 11-9 8-11 6-11 11-10 (3-1) in one hour and 52 minutes. It was the longest match of the tournament and the longest British Open final since 1997.
Among his acknowledgements, Palmer credited the new racquets he has been designing with Canadian racquet manufacturer, Black Knight. “I have five racquets in my bag,” he said. “They are all different, all prototypes.” As part of their sponsorship agreement, Black Knight is developing a high-end line of David Palmer signature racquets to be introduced to the worldwide squash market in September 2008. All of the new Palmer racquets will be strung with PowerNick® 18 from Ashaway (also a sponsor) which Palmer has used since it was first introduced. Black Knight also serves as Canadian Distributor for Ashaway Racket Strings, and all existing Black Knight squash frames will continue to be strung at the factory with Ashaway strings.
“I’ve been playing with the gold [racquet] for the past three weeks, and at 9/9 in the 5th, it finally broke, so I picked up the black one, because that’s the one that was the closest to the gold one, and that’s the one I did that shot off the frame with! They [Black Knight] were looking for an opening to the European and UK market, and what a great start in the relationship in winning the British Open!”
But the win was far from easy as both men appeared exhausted in the final game, yet continued to retrieve seemingly unreachable balls. “All the major titles I win, it always seems to come down to the wire,” said Palmer. “It would have been nice to win this one 3 0, but all credit to James, he fought back. He is a great ambassador to the sport. He is one of the fairest guys around, and the English people should be very proud of him.”
“You’ve got to take your hat off to him,” said Willstrop. “I didn’t have an answer in the first two games—but then I dug in. He’s a true champion—it’s no disgrace, I’ve just got to accept it.”
Next up for Palmer is the World Open later this year. “It would be nice to try to win the double. It’s something that I’ve never been able to do,” said Palmer, who won the world crown in 2002 and 2006. “The challenge for me is to keep the speed around the court, not the fitness; I still consider myself one of the fittest guys on the circuit, but as you get older, you start to struggle with the speed with which you move on court, and there are a few shots that I used to recover that I don’t seem to be able to get anymore. And that will be one of the challenges I’ll have to face in the coming years, I’ll have to work a lot on that…”
Black Knight was founded in Vancouver in 1976, by racquet sport enthusiasts with a true commitment to the development and support of the sports they loved. Although Black Knight has grown and diversified considerably since then, both as a major brand within North America and through distribution in a number of countries around the world, that commitment remains at the heart of what they do. In Canada, Black Knight is the exclusive distributor for Ashaway Racket Strings.
Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway is the Official String of USA Racquetball, the Professional Squash Association and the Women’s International Squash Players Association. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications.
The fourth time was the sweetest for Squash great David Palmer. Confounding critics who said the 31-year-old Australian would no longer be able to compete for major titles, the fifth-seeded Palmer beat England’s James Willstrop in an epic final to claim his fourth British Open men’s squash title in Liverpool.
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