Lobban and Clyne look ahead to Commonwealth Games

For the past five years, Alan Clyne has travelled all over the world pursuing his career as a professional squash player. But it is a home event that will be extra special for the 27-year-old from Munlochy on the Black Isle.

Munlochys Alan Clyne has already qualified for the singles at next years Commonwealth games

“Next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is going to be the biggest thing ever for squash in Scotland,” he suggested. “I was at the 2010 Games in Delhi and it was so completely different to everything else. I absolutely loved it.

“The strength of competition will be the same as at our world championships and so it will be the perfect showcase for the sport and I am confident that the Scots can do really well.

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“I have never had the chance to play in a professional event 
at home so it really is going to 
be special.”

Clyne, currently ranked No 31 in the world, has already gained his qualification for Glasgow 2014 and he will be competing in the singles and both doubles as the reigning Scottish champion in men’s (with Harry Leitch) and mixed (with Frania Gillen-Buchert).

Hoping to join him in the men’s singles is another talent from the Black Isle, Greg Lobban.In just his second season on the professional Tour, the Fortrose 20-year-old has already won a title – the Imet Open in Bratislava last December – and has 
broken into the world’s top 90.

“I have to beat three players in the world’s top 30 to earn a place in the singles at the Games and I am desperate to make it,” said the youngster. “My goal is to get into the top 75 in the world by the end of this year and keep progressing.”

But Lobban, Scottish No 1 at under-19 level, briefly took time out of squash as he pondered his future. “I was nearly gone after my last year in the juniors,” he admitted.

“I only started playing again when I was sure that it was what I really wanted to do. I have a 
degree in sports science and coaching from Napier University, but now I’m very happy as a full-time squash player. The truth was that I was slightly scared of the training routine, but I love it.”

And he could be joined in future by his younger sister, Kirsty, a former Scottish Open Champion at both under-15 and under-17 levels.

“She’s just left school at the end of fifth year and is going to go to college in Inverness,” he said. “I think she’s still considering what she wants to do in squash.”

Both Clyne and Lobban are now based in Edinburgh and coached by Scotland’s National coach – Australian Roger Flynn – at the National Centre at Heriot-Watt University.

Doubles is very much part of the high-performance programme and, at the end of August, Clyne, Lobban, Leitch, Gillen-Buchert and Stuart Crawford will all be heading to Australia for a doubles Test match and a few tournaments.

Flynn said: “We have a strong focus on doubles and came close to medals at the last two Commonwealth Games.

“We also showed the team potential at this year’s world men’s championships. We were seeded 16th and finished ninth.

“The problem for Greg over the next year is that he will struggle to get into the tournaments that will give him the opportunity to qualify for the singles at the Games.”

Thanks to Glasgow 2014, new squash courts have been installed at Scotstoun – but there is an ongoing row over the establishment of a glass show court. Games organisers planned for one that will be removed after the 11-day event, while John Dunlop, the Chief Executive of Scottish Squash and Racketball, wants the legacy of a permanent venue for top-class tournaments. The controversy rumbles on.

Squash is accustomed to tough bargaining. Over the past 30 years, the sport has doggedly campaigned to join the Olympic family. The constant struggle and persistence could eventually pay off in September when it lines up against wrestling and a combined baseball/softball bid for one place left open for the 2020 Games. Squash was added to the list of core sports at the Commonwealth Games in 
Malaysia in 1998 and Scotland enjoyed instant success with Peter Nicol taking gold in the singles and a bronze in the 
doubles with Stuart Cowie.

Of course, that success is slightly tainted. In 2001, when he was world champion and world No 1, Nicol, who had moved from Inverurie to London as a rising teenage star, shocked the squash world by defecting to England.

Nicol went on to win 
Commonwealth Games gold for his new country in 2006 – and he is currently the honorary President of England Squash and Racketball. Perhaps he will be in Glasgow in his new Presidential role?

For Clyne and Lobban, the Nicol era is little more than a chapter in the history books. They don’t really care about the politics or the arguments. They are just keen to play to their 
utmost capability.

They want their own place among the records – and Commonwealth Games medallist certainly has a nice ring to it.