Laura Massaro had two reasons to celebrate her visit to Malaysia last week. The world No2 not only became the first Englishwoman for 15 years to be crowned World Squash Champion, but earlier in the week, Massaro was voted the Heather McKay Player of the Year 2013 at the WSA Awards staged during the Penang CIMB Women’s World Championship at the SPICE Arena in Penang.
“I’m really pleased and honoured to win the Player of the Year award for 2013,” said the 30-year-old from Preston in Lancashire after the presentation by Australian Sarah Fitz-Gerald, the former world number one and a five-time world champion (both pictured above). “I won it in 2011, which was amazing at the time, but 2013 was such a fantastic year for me that it’s up there as one of my best achievements to win this award for the second time!
“It was fantastic to be presented with the award by Sarah, who is a legend of the game and also a friend. A special moment!”
Australia’s Lisa Camilleri won the Vicki Cardwell Comeback Player of the Year award. “I am very proud and honoured to win the 2013 comeback player of the year award,” said the 31-year-old former world No28 from Queensland. “It is so nice to be recognized for such a hard slog back it’s been. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped me come back – my physio, doctors, coaches, family and friends. I was so surprised but very happy to receive the WSA award.”
The WSA Breakthrough Player of the Year award was won by England’s Sarah-Jane Perry. “Firstly I’d like to thank everyone at WSA who work so hard to give us the tour we have,” said the 23-year-old from Kenilworth who leapt from 29 to 14 in the world rankings in 2013.
“I knew I had a good year in 2013 – but so did a lot of other people, so I wasn’t expecting to win the award at all! I am so pleased to receive the award and it was an honour in itself that it was presented by Sarah, who achieved so much during her illustrious career. I’m looking forward to the rest of 2014 and hope to keep making strides in my game.”
A special WSA Platinum Service award was given to Nicol David. “I am truly honoured to be recognised with the 2013 WSA Platinum Service Award by the panel,” said the illustrious Malaysian who has topped the women’s world rankings unopposed since August 2006. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give back to women’s squash, I hope to do more in future to represent our women’s tour.”
The WSA Sportsmanship Award was presented to Nicolette Fernandes, the world No20 from Guyana. The 30-year-old said later: “This award was such a huge surprise for me and even though it’s been a few days I’m still feeling pretty humbled by it!! I wholeheartedly believe that we are a product of our environment and I have been extremely blessed to be surrounded by amazing people so even if I did try and take all the credit those amazing people would know otherwise.”
WSA President Kasey Brown accepted the award for Tournament of the Year on behalf of the Delaware Investments US Open, the first major event to offer equal prize money to both women and men.
Later, a delighted US Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein said: “We’re really pleased to receive the recognition for this award. The staff works hard to make sure the elite athletes feel comfortable and welcome. The squash community really genuinely appreciates the example they set, and everything the competitors represent and bring to the game.
“It’s also a top priority for us to promote opportunities for girls and women to play squash. Offering equal prize money is one way we are able to help more female squash players compete at the highest level and to their full potential. We hope this move puts the appropriate pressure on other major events to do the same.”
All of the winners were chosen by an independent expert panel made up of journalists, ex-players and squash experts – except the ‘Tournament of the Year’ which was voted for by the players.
For all the latest WSA Tour news: wsaworldtour.com