Glasgow 2014: Squash minnows overawed by big stage

England's Nick Matthew in action against Mauritius' Xavier Koenig at Scotstoun Sports Campus. Picture: PA
England's Nick Matthew in action against Mauritius' Xavier Koenig at Scotstoun Sports Campus. Picture: PA
Share this article
Have your say

DEFENDING champion Nick Matthew eased to a routine victory in the opening squash session at Scotstoun but for others it was clearly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Matthew took just 21 minutes to triumph 11-3 11-3 11-1 against unranked Xavier Koenig of Mauritius, who squeezes his sport between shifts as an insolvency practitioner on the island.

Keep up with all the news and results from the Glasgow 2014

The three-time world champion and hot gold medal favourite was followed on court by a 17-year-old from Lesotho, Ntholeng Lechesa, for whom a single point in an 11-0 11-0 11-1 defeat to Jamaica’s Chris Binnie exceeded his modest expectations.

Lechesa learned the game at one of only six squash facilities in his country and had never previously played on a glass-backed court. His solitary point - after 29 in succession for his opponent - was greeted with raucous acclaim by the crowd.

Lechesa said: “I am very happy. I did not expect to win even a point. I was very nervous because I have never played on a court like this or in front of a crowd.”

If Matthew’s ability to get his own job done in double-quick time was ever in doubt it was quickly assuaged when a star-struck Koenig wandered onto court without his racquet.

“I didn’t realise we were coming straight onto court,” he said. “I thought we were coming out to have a walk around first.”

The one-sided nature of the first round continued when Scotland’s world number 35 Alan Clyne pushed aside Kevin Hannaway of St Vincent and the Grenadines 11-1 11-2 11-2 in only 14 minutes.

“When I first came out I got goosebumps and I just knew I had to concentrate on my performance,” said Edinburgh-born 27-year-old Clyne.

“I didn’t really know much about my opponent and it’s great that players from smaller nations get an opportunity to play in a place like this. These nations are not the ones I usually play and it’s great that they are given the chance.”

Clyne’s Scotland team-mates Greg Lobban and Kevin Moran moved through along with Peter Creed and Joel Makin, and England’s Peter Barker was an 11-4 11-1 11-3 winner over Manda Chilambwe of Zambia.

Northern Ireland teenager Michael Craig lost 11-9 11-5 11-5 to Harinder Sandu of India.