In between watching some amazing rallies and picking up some tips from the pros, Wilson Yeung managed to catch Jonathon Power before his game and ask him some hard-hitting questions on squash, squash and more squash.
Wilson Yeung: What projects have been working on recently? Jonathon Power: I think the main project is developing the national training academy and national squash academy in Canada. Trying to get the Canadian squash up to the standard it was when Graham Riding, myself and Shahier Razik were playing on the tour. It has been a big gap since now that we are all older and left the tour....Trying to bring the level up and create a real system and create a place where they can get all the information from the beginning level all the way to no 1 in the world. Trying to get a lot of top players in the world to train there as a base.
WY: What inspired or made you take up squash? JP: Well my father was the no 1. He was playing tournaments every weekend, and really loved it. So we were always around the squash courts and I love sports so I kinda kept playing every day and liked it. Then when I had to choose my favourite sport to become good at it. And squash was my favourite.
WY: What made you decide to turn professional? JP: Just because I was looking for the next level. I was 15 and playing professional level. I wanted to play professional tournaments. You keep looking for the level and I was so young, it was automatic.
WY: What did it feel like when you rose to No 1 ranking in the world? JP: It was a huge relief! Because I expected it from the time I was a kid. I finally did it! (laughs) Thank god I’ve done that.
WY: Other than Peter Nicol, who would you say you had the biggest rivalry with? JP: Graham Riding for sure!
WY: Who was the most fun and entertaining to play against and why? JP: I would say the best matches that I enjoyed the most was with Amr Shabana because we played at a speed that was quicker than anybody else I played with. Just getting involved in that pace of play was so fun.
WY: Was it a hard decision for you to make when you decided to retire? JP: No. I woke up one morning, Shabana was staying at my house and we were going to the airport together to a tournament. He was no 2 and I was no 1 in the world, and I said to him “congratulations, you’re the new no 1, I’m stopping.” He was happy! He was like… “Are you serious Power? YEAH!”
WY: Who are your favourite players, past present and future (up and coming)? JP: Past was definitely Jahanghir Khan, present… still my favourite player is Shabana and future would be Ramy.
WY: Squash was previously dominated by the Pakistanis, and now the English and the Egyptians. Where do you think the next generation of squash superstars will come from? JP: Egypt, just because the system is so strong. It works better because they have one big city, which has hundreds and thousands of squash players, and they get to see all the levels. From the best player at 13 years old to the best player in the world every day. They know how to navigate, they have the information.
WY: Any potential Canadian superstars to watch for? JP: Erm. No. That’s why I built the centre. There’s a ways to go. I am hoping to find someone special and hopefully we’ll find that soon.
WY; What was the best piece of squashing advice you were given? JP: The best piece of advice was you have to have good length to be able to hit good shots.
WY: And the worst? JP: (laughs) I’ve heard some shockers. I wouldn’t consider it advice. I would just throw it away.
WY: If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be? JP: It’s difficult because I wouldn’t have accepted it.
WY: And would you listen to your adult self then? JP: Absolutely not!
WY: What’s the worst thing about squash (if any)? JP: The worst thing about squash… erm… I love squash.
WY: What advice would you give to players with regards to injury prevention? JP: There’s a lot of things that you can do. A lot of stretching, a lot of strengthening. You have to constantly work on your body. The best advice is to get fit to play squash. Don’t play squash to get fit.
WY: What is your favourite shot? JP: Over the years, I would say my backhand low crosscourt angle from the back. I don’t have that shot anymore though, it has disappeared.
WY; I have seen many videos and you have outbursts. So how many rackets have you broken during your career (accidental and on purpose)? JP: One year, I think I broke something like 52 rackets or something from Dunlop and they were complaining to me, as I was breaking too many. Then they told me that Marat Safin the tennis player broke 56. So I was second in Dunlop! So I upped it by four the next year!
WY: What sport would you play if you didn’t pick up squash? JP: Good question, I would play an individual sport like tennis or golf or something like that, because I didn’t like working within a team structure. It would be something individual. I am not interested in sharing.
WY: What was it like for you to be on the tour? JP: It has its moments, its ups and down. It’s like a school class, you know what I mean. You have your little groups and it’s a close knit family that tours around the world. You have some good things and some bad things. It was good overall.