Thursday, 6 December 2012

An Idiot Abroad- Asia

Its been a while since my last blog but here is the first of hopefully many! This years season has started well I have hit a good run of form and my ranking is now up to 117 in the world compared to 232 this time last year, and I have travelled to Japan, Malaysia and the Czech Republic for events.

After my summers training this year I decided to go away for a couple of events at a time as I found this worked well last season and it also helps spread the costs. So at the start of October I left for Japan which is probable one of the best places I have ever visited and somewhere I would love to go back to. The squash went well out there to I got through my first round and lost to Leo Au ranked around 60 in the world 3/1, I was happy with how I played and it gave me a real believe I could compete with those players well inside the top 100.

But no rest for the wicked though the next day I was up early to catch a flight to Malaysia which I have been to a few times before. This event was slightly different for me as I had to qualify and I was in for a shock as the courts we played on had no air conditioning whatsoever which meant slogging it out at around 30 degrees! For some reason though it seemed to help me as I beat a player of  similar ranking to myself in qualifying finals (Bart Ravelli) 3/0 and then bit a local player Elvin Keo who was ranked 100 in the world 3/1. Now as he was a local guy you can imagine I wasn't the most popular player there. However the Malaysians had the last laugh as I lost to another Malaysian player Kamran Khan (An ex-Wycliffe pupil) 3/0 the next day in just over an hour.

A good trip overall and now its about putting in a good block of training over the Christmas period before my next event which will be toward the end of January.

If you wnat to follow the results more closely you can find most of the events on the BBC Sport of Squash

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Catch Up Blog and Travels a Plenty

Since my last blog quite a bit has changed I am now based in Cheltenham again and my ranking is starting to steadily go in the right direction.

In March I travelled to Kish Island just off Dubai for a $10,000 dollar event where I managed to come through qualifying and eventually get through to the quarter finals losing to World number 54 Mark Krajcsak of Hungary who went on to win the event.

Then I was involved in a Closed Satellite in Chesterfield at Brampton Manor squash club in I was seeded one for the event and it a strange feeling to have the pressure on me to beat people something which I haven't felt as much since leaving the junior age groups. I managed to put in some good performances and come away with the win beating Richard Birkes 3.0 in the final WR 270.

After these events I had a bit of time back home in Cheltenham having only recently moved back from a brief time in Manchester. It was good being back and getting a few weeks of hard training in before my next events.

The season seems to have disappeared a bit to quick after some time out injured but I still have a few tournaments left to go.  Last week I was competing in the Irish Open held at Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin, the tournament had a high quality field including ex Gloucestershire man Ali Walker now ranked No.13 in the world and Borja Golan of Spain also ranked in the worlds top 20.

I managed to get through qualifying beating two players ranked higher than me, first Jaymie Haycocks ranked 102 in the world and the Steve London ranked just inside the top 150. I was massively pleased with both these results as I had only just sneak into the event and to get through qualifying was far more than I expected. In the first round I was drew to play Jonathan Kemp ranked 40 in the world its fair to say I had a baptism of fire at that level but on the whole a lot of positives to take! on top of this my ranking has now gone from 228 in March up to 163!

This Sunday I head of for a tour of the America's first I am in Atlanta and then I head off to Guatemala. Both events have a strong field and I will have to work my way through qualifying.

Also I would just like to say a big thank you and welcome to Airport Parking & Hotels Ltd (APH) who have recently agreed to sponsor me. They offer an excellent range of services for the independent traveller which include: Airport Parking, Airport Hotel & Parking Packages, Executive Airport Lounges, Car Hire, and Travel Insurance. I look forward to a long and prosperous partnership with them.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Best of British

Every February the best in Britain come to Manchester where for the past 10 or more years the Senior British Closed has been held for both men and women. An event which year on year features some of the best players in the world, this year was no different as the mens draw featured the top two players in the world in Nick Matthew and James Willstrop.

But that was the main draw and I wasn't ranked high enough to get into that outright, I first had to fight my way through qualification which in itself is a tough task. Over 50 players all fighting it out for 8 qualifying slots which then put you into the main draw and potentially the chance to go toe to toe with some of the best players in the world.

Although seeded to qualify I knew it wouldn't easy first up was Liam Gutcher of Northumbria who had already come through one match. I on the Sunday night before a Monday match to avoid any potential risks posed by the weather. I had seen Liam play before at last years under 23 tournament in Huntington and I knew if I gave him time and space he is well capable of hitting any number of winners. The seedings suggested he was expected to lose meaning there was little pressure on him which is often a dangerous combination. Luckily I managed to get into it quickly and assert my authority winning in just over 20mins 11/3 11/3 11/1.

Getting off the court as quickly as possible is vital in tournaments especially when you are scheduled for two matches in one day. When I came off court I noticed my potential opponents for the evening match were still running each other around. Eventually the winner was Greg Lobban a young pro the same age as me and a Scottish international.

Needless to say I was up for a battle and was excited at the prospect of getting to play one of the top seeds. After his morning exploits I felt he may tire a little so tried to give nothing cheap away but at the same time not be too negative still using all four corners to work him.

I started well getting a few points lead but was pegged back to 8 all, but managed to close out the game 11/8. Now over any match nerves I felt like I would grow into the game but to my opponents credit he came out the stronger in the second and took a large lead which I was not able to recover losing 11/6. The next game was vital as I need to get back into the game and take back the momentum we were very close around 5 all and after a few lets I managed to break away and take the game 11/7. The fourth game was similar close in the early stages then I felt maybe his morning match took its toll and I closed it out to win the match 3/1 in 50minutes.

This was my first time of reaching the main draw in two attempts and I was pleased with the way I had played so far. But I had an even tougher test ahead as I got my wish and was drawn to play the reigning champion and world No.10 Daryl Selby the next day. I made sure to prepare well by warming down and and getting the right nutrition in.

The morning of the match I popped in to see the physio to look at one or two areas I had been struggling with over the past few weeks but game time soon came around. Playing such high ranking opponent is exciting but also daunting and in the opening stages it showed and Daryl had me running round like a headless chicken. I managed to salvage a bit of pride though with a late run of points to lose 11/7. I felt I to often got stuck behind him and therefore opened the court up to much. In the second I went on there with the aim to get in front and try and dictate the play more. It seemed to work as I levelled it at 1 game all winning the second 11/7. Although after catching him slightly off guard in that second I wasn't given a second chance and he took the next two games 11/5.

Overall though a successful tournament I achieved my seeding and qualified and put in a good performance against a quality opponent.