Champions League of squash comes to Edinburgh Sports Club

Scottish spectators have a rare chance to watch world-class squash on their doorsteps this week when the European Club Championships come to this country for the first time in their 32-year history.

Georgia Adderley will be one of the homegrown stars at the European Squash Club Championships in Edinburgh.

The home nation has two representatives – the Edinburgh Sports Club, who will host the event, and Newlands from Glasgow – and after the Edinburgh women’s team finished third last year, hopes are high of another podium place.

Seven clubs from around the continent will contest the women’s title, with 11 taking part in the men’s event and Newlands and Edinburgh being among the clubs who will compete in both.

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Leading Scots players Lisa Aitken and Greg Lobban will turn out for Newlands and Paderborn of Germany respectively, while rising star Georgia Adderley will play for Edinburgh.

The first two days, starting on Wednesday, to which entry is free, will see the women compete in a round robin and the men in a group stage. The semi-finals then take place on Friday, followed by the finals on Saturday, and both days are ticketed.

Situated near the Gallery of Modern Art and a short walk from the city centre, the host venue describes itself as the capital’s “hidden gem”. Holding the tournament will be the culmination of a year and more’s hard work behind the scenes by Edinburgh officials such as Simon Boughton, who, as well as being the head coach, is also one of his team’s two reserves.

“We’re really excited to be holding it,” he said. “We see it as the Champions League of squash.

“Our ladies’ team came third last year and we’re strong again. Although it’s going to be tough, I would say the girls have a chance of being on the podium.

“The men finished sixth in last year’s event, but we’re stronger this year, we’ve got greater depth. Rory Stewart, our No 1, will have his work cut out against players such as Simon Rosner, the world No 5, and Paul Coll, the No 6. But he’ll be strong against a lot of the other players. And Chris Leiper, our No 4, is going to be very strong, I think.”

At 47, Boughton, should he play, will be taking on some players who are less than half his age, but circumstances may leave him no alternative.

“We’ll see how we go,” he added. “We’ll start off with our strongest side. Dougie Kempsell works as a chef so there will probably be games he’ll be unavailable for, and in that case either myself or Ross McHoul, the other reserve, will step in.”

Originally from Nottinghamshire, Boughton has been in Scotland long enough to see the fortunes of squash fluctuate, and is pleased that, at present, interest and playing numbers are on the increase again, thanks in part to its inclusion in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014. The rise up the world rankings of Scots such as Aitken and Lobban also clearly help, and he is confident that the 18-year-old Adderley has the talent required to join them.

“I think she can go a long way. She’s won the Under-19 British Closed Championship for the last two years and she’s got a great attitude. She’s great to watch.”

Adderley is just outside the world top 100 at present, but is determined to be deep inside it very soon.

"My aim for this season is to push into the top 70 in the world,” she said. “Long-term, my ultimate goal is to become world No 1. That’s in the back of my head and having that as my long-term goal is exciting, just to know that I’m in it for the long game, not the short game.

“To be hosting this tournament is absolutely amazing and I’m really looking forward to the event,” she continued. “Court No 5 [the show court] is my favourite court in Scotland and I absolutely love playing on it. Hopefully I’ll get one or two on there, which would be lovely. Looking at the teams, there are players of pretty high calibre, top-50 players. We’ve got the depth in the team and we do have the capability to get on the podium.”

*European Squash Club Championships, 18-21 September, Edinburgh Sports Club, Belford Place, Edinburgh. Ticketline: 0131 332 0088. More information: https://eccsquash.com/