Razik lines up top names for Cambridge Cup
Canada's Shahier Razik, right, reacts while he battles against Mexico's Arturo Salazar, left, for the gold medal in men's team squash finals during the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadian squash player Shahier Razik has had a few years to get used to juggling tournament director responsibilities with his on-court duties at the annual event he hosts in Toronto.
He hopes the experience of hosting next month's Bank of America Merrill Lynch Cambridge Cup will help move him closer to a more long-term goal — bringing a top-flight Pro Squash Association tournament back to the city.
Razik, who is preparing to play in this week's Motor City Open, is also busy planning the Feb. 5-7 invitational event in his hometown. The Cup lineup includes Ramy Ashour of Egypt and Nick Matthew of England — the top two players in the world — along with fifth-ranked Mohamed El Shorbagy and four-time world champion Amr Shabana of Egypt.
Razik has helped build the event over the last few years — on and off the court — and is pleased he'll have such a strong field for its fourth edition.
"Now the tournament has a bit of a reputation on tour," Razik said Wednesday from Detroit. "Guys are coming up to me and asking me if they're going to make the cut for this year's Cambridge Cup or not. It's nice now."
The rest of the eight-man field includes world No. 13 Tom Richards of England, No. 15 Alister Walker of Botswana, No. 18 Cameron Pilley of Australia, and Razik, the five-time Canadian champ ranked No. 35 in the world.
Razik, a PSA Tour veteran at 35, is making a slow transition from the tour to off-court squash pursuits like event management, camp organization and promotion work.
"It feels like the right thing to do right now as I'm finishing off the last few years of my career," he said. "It's natural for me to do the promotional stuff on the side as I'm still playing and still out there talking to people.
"It's a good combination."
Razik is eyeing a September date for a possible return of a major tour event to Toronto. He'd like to use an all-glass showcourt for a Super Series tournament in an outdoor setting.
He said he's in talks with the PSA about the possibility and is working his contacts in the squash community along with potential sponsors. The showcourt was used in indoor locations for the defunct Canadian Classic event, last held in 2008 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Bringing a major event back to town would be a significant challenge, but it's one that Razik is up for.
"The No. 1 goal for me is to expose the sport in Canada again, especially in Toronto, that's a major hub for squash," Razik said. "That's really what I'm after."
The tour has previously used the showcourt court in non-traditional locations like Grand Central Station in New York and outdoor settings like beside the pyramids in Giza, Egypt.
Razik envisions a Toronto outdoor event in a high-traffic public area in the downtown core. But for now, next month's $60,000 tournament has his attention.
Razik will play Ashour — the two-time defending champion — in round-robin play Feb. 5 at the Mayfair Parkway club in Markham, Ont. The final goes Feb. 7 at the downtown Cambridge Club, one of seven area clubs that will host matches over the three-day event.