Thursday, 7 November 2013

Back On The Blink

So the last few weeks haven't gone quite as I would have planned, in my last blog I was preparing for World Open qualifying, I sadly had to withdraw from this event after injuring my back a few days before I was meant to play. A hard call to make but the right one, I weighed up all the pros and cons of playing as well as testing my back on the day of the match before making the final decision.

I've suffered with back issues for a while now and its a constant battle to keep on top of it as well as any other problem areas where I struggle with injury. Thankful to help speed up the recovery process I have teamed up with Jason Ford at Stroud Sports Injury Clinic ( who has been helping the injury heal quicker and prevent it from reoccurring. Physio's are of great importance to squash players as well as other athletes helping cope with the effects training has on the body, so I would like to say a big thank you to Jason and his team!

What was the race to be fit for the worlds is now the race for Egypt, hoping to leave on the 17th of this month. After more treatment this week it still looks possible I will be on the plane in just over a week. I just have to listen to the advice of the people around me, although sometimes the hardest thing for an athlete to do is nothing even if its good for you. For me that’s because of the fear I might stand still or even worse go backwards while I'm injured so I am constantly looking at areas I can improve in while I'm out. Whether that be doing static hitting or doing physical sessions in the pool, every little helps. I have also been reading one or two sporting books while I've been injured including Jonah Barrington’s 'Murder in the Squash Court' which I cannot recommend highly enough!

So that’s about it my life is not that eventful at the minute and that cringey quote ‘you don’t know what you've got till it’s gone’ is ringing true!

Thursday, 17 October 2013


Last week I was in Valencia for another $10,000 dollar event which are the same as the two events I played in America at the end of last month. It wasn't a great run, I lost first round to a Frenchman (never enjoyable) called Geoffrey Demont who is of similar age and ranking to myself.

What was disappointing about the match was that I was leading 2/0 in games and 7/2 in the third as well as having a match ball in the fourth eventually losing 11/9 11/2 10/12 10/12 7/11. I think it fair to say that it was a bad day, one of my worst on tour, to have got so close in the third and in the fourth was devastating. Spain is officially my least favourite place and that is purely because I haven't won a match there in several years. The venue itself was fantastic with big crowds turning out from the first rounds right through to the final.

How did I lose you might say, well it wasn't complacency but more nerves having not won a match for a while I felt the pressure more than I normally would. The important thing however as boring and philosophical as it might sound is that I learn from that situation and let it never happen again! After the event I had a couple of days off after a long run of travelling and events it also gave me a chance to cheer up a bit!

With the World Open qualifying next week it was important to get back to work. I always find that first session back the hardest but after that you feel a lot better and it becomes easier to motivate yourself and push through. World Open qualifying begins next weekend in Manchester and I encourage you to come watch, qualifying is free to get in and you can find out more details by looking at the website

Thursday, 3 October 2013

America Tour

So Monday I arrived back from just under two weeks away in America, first in Charlottesville Virginia and then Madison Wisconsin. In the first event I was drawn to play Dane Sharp of Canada ranked 80 in the world. I lost 9/11 11/6 2/11 4/11 not what I was hoping for as I looked at this match as being winnable despite him being ranked above me. There were some big lessons to be learnt from that match, the first of which was to not just think about the outcome (winning the match) but thinking about how I do this and what I need to do to achieve the outcome I want. By just thinking about the outcome I put myself under more pressure than normal and as a result hit a lot errors and just ran out of steam after being so nervous and pumped up before hand.

After the match I took a bit of time to cool down and relax as I find I need to be in a good frame of mind to analyse a match. Especially a loss as emotions can be high and you can end up just beating yourself up. So by giving yourself a bit of time you get a more true and realistic evaluation, looking at the positives as well as the negatives.

In between the two events I stayed in Charlottesville with the Foshay family who took great care of me throughout the week. On top of this they helped me get rid of some frustration from my match by taking me 'Clay Pigeon Shooting'. Although its fair to say that route into the Olympics seems unlikely!

So onto Madison which was just a short flight away, I sneaked into this event at the last minute which was a bonus. I was drawn to play Martin Knight ranked 48 in the world, trying to learn from the previous weeks mistakes I went into the match with a clear game plan with a lot of help from my coach Rob Owen. I lost 11/5 3/11 5/11 10/12 a much better performance that the week before although still plenty of things to work on!

Next up I have an event in Valencia and then the World Open in Manchester at the end of the month!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Top 100 and Olympic Rejection

So at the start of this month I reached a huge goal of mine as I broke into the top 100 in the world, at 98. The next question people normally ask is 'How?' and it was mainly down to my result in Nottingham were I reached the semi finals. After Nottingham I was in Rotterdam for a 15 thousand dollar event. This event was bigger than the one in Nottingham meaning I had to qualify.

Qualifying was a straight knock out and each player needed to win two matches to qualify for the main draw. My first match was against Jan Van Den Herrewegen of Belgium, thankfully I managed to get through unscathed winning 11-5 11-3 11-7 in 30minutes. A perfect start as I didn't spent to long on court and still felt fresh and sharp. Next I played Adam Auckland of England, we played countless times as juniors nearly always going the distance, and shock horror we did it again thankfully with me coming out the victor 9-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-2, 11-3. I was obviously pleased to come through especially from two games down showing that all my hard work over the summer was paying off!

The following day I was drawn to play Steve Finitsis of Australia a player currently ranked 59 in the world. It seemed as though my 3/2 win the previous day had taken it out of me and on top of that my opponent didn't make it easy, I struggled after the first game to get into it losing 11-8, 11-2, 11-4. I was disappointed with my last match however 24 hours earlier at 2-0 down I probably would have taken it, another set of good ranking points on the board!

It would be criminal of me not to mention the Olympics rejection, where Wrestling was chosen above Squash and Baseball/Softball to be entered into the 2020 Tokyo games after having been only taken out a short time ago. The result was obviously heartbreaking for myself and the whole squash community but it has not all been to waste, the sport continues to grow across the world and become a more spectator friendly sport, hopefully its just a matter of time before the IOC see that.

I leave for my next events this coming Tuesday, the first of hopefully two in America. The first in Charlottesville and then onto Madison. I will also be on BBC Radio Glos from 4pm today talking about my career and the Olympics rejection!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Off and Running

So after a summer of hard work it was time to start a new season, this year kicking of in Nottingham for a $5000 event. I was unseeded for the this event but having done a good summer of work with my new coach Rob Owen I wanted to see where I was at.

However hard you train you cant replicate that tournament environment the nerves or pressures you experience are never the same.  The first event back is like your first day back at school when you were younger your excited to see fellow players and ask how their summers have been but you are equally nervous of what is to come.

First up I played Jerome Dadot a qualifier form France, it was our first meeting on PSA (Profesional Squash Association) and I was looking forward to my first game back. I managed to win 3/0 in just over 30mins happy to  get the first round out the way.

Next up was my Gloucestershire team mate Tom
Ford who I often train with and play against in training at East Glos. Just the day before Tom had beaten the number 1 seed and former 39 in the world 3/2. Taking this into account I had a game plan of how I wanted to play and it seemed to work as I won 12/10 11/3 11/8 which put me through to my first semi final!

There I meet Declan James who I have played against all through juniors, the match lasted for 1hr 20mins and I sadly came out on the wrong side losing 15/13 11/9 6/11 16/14. I lost a lead of 8/4 in the second which proved to be crucial but he played the big points better on the day. All in all I am pleased with my performance and I am already looking forward to my next event in Rotterdam!

You can watch my semi final match online by following the link below

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Nutrition X

Having just started a new season and with a good summers training behind me I thought now would be a good time to talk about one of my key sponsors. Nutrition X, a local based company working all over the world support some elite sporting teams including Yorkshire CCC and not to mention Gloucester Rugby!

I have been using there products for a year now and have found their products to have a massive benefit to my training. Firstly I know all of their products are HFL Tested which means I have no concerns or worries if I were to be tested. Secondly it allows me to maximise every session I put in and recover in time for the next one.

The main products I use are MRM (Maximum Recovery Matrix), Hydra 10 and Hypnos. I take Hydra 10 before and during tough sessions as I find it keeps me hydrated especially when I am playing abroad in places where it can be very humid. Also mentally it gives me the confidence I am constantly topping up the fuel I need to carry on playing at the intensity I want.

MRM is what I would take after most session to help my body recover quickly especially if I have another match or session later that day. Again its handy when I am away and I know I can have something straight after a game that works and I trust.

By far my favourite Nutrition X product has to be the Butterscotch Hypnos which is just like drinking milkshake and to top it off its good for you. I would normally take this just before bed if I have had a weights session or tough match during the day. This continues to help my body recover.

Nutrition X have been a massive help to the development of my squash over the last 12 months and I hope to continue that into the coming season!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Season End

I think its fair to say blogging isn't my strongest point but here we go, my season has just come to an end with my last two events being the British Open (The Wimbledon of Squash) and the Sekusui Open in Switzerland. 

I received a last minute call up for the British Open to play as a local, England Squash are given 8 places into the qualification draw to hand to whoever they see fit. I was over the moon to be given one of these spots as the British Open is arguable the greatest event in Squash! Although I would be lying if I said I wasn't slightly daunted to come up against one of the worlds best. I was drawn against Marwan El Shorbagy the current world junior champion and No.30 in the world! Not the easiest of draws but in some ways it was better than it could have been as I had played him before and performed well, so I knew what to expect and was looking forward to it. Sadly I went down 11/8, 11/7, 13/15, 11/2 (53m), although I wasn't happy to lose I was pleased with the performance and proved to myself that I can compete with those top guys if I perform at my best. I have put a link up to the match report  for those interested.

After this it was down to Surrey for the first of two weekends where I will be hoping to qualify as a level two coach come July, who knew coaching was such hard work! 

From there it was almost straight off to Switzerland for the last event of my season, first up I had a local and the wildcard for the event Patrick Miescher a tricky opponent especially on such warm courts. I somehow managed to squeeze through in four games not my greatest performance but very happy to get the win. Next up was the American No.1 Julian Illingworth who has a highest ranking of 24 from this time last year. Sadly Julian was to good on the day but another decent performance against a high ranked opponent.

All in all I am happy with my progress this year moving up 62 places to a career high of 101. I have also changed coach and tried some new training methods which have begun to help my game. But for now I am looking forward to some time off before getting stuck in to a good summers training!

Also as the selection process to which sports gets into the 2020 Olympic games approaches, I did a piece on BBC Radio Gloucestershire with Steve Kitchen all about squash in the county. Which you can listen to by following the link below, enjoy!