Dougie Kempsell tipped to soar up the world squash rankings

Dougie Kempsell in action, and with Greg Lobban, below, after the Geneva Open final
Dougie Kempsell in action, and with Greg Lobban, below, after the Geneva Open final
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Dougie Kempsell is today savouring a part in Scottish squash history and is now being tipped to soar up the world rankings.

When the 20-year-old from the Waverley Club took part in last weekend’s Geneva Open final against Inverness’s Greg Lobban, it was the first time two Scots had contested the trophy in a Professional Squash Association Tour event.

Kempsell went down in straight games to 21-year-old Lobban but, with Alan Clyne also on the scene and leading the way in the world rankings among Scots at No.38, a golden era is unfolding perhaps to rival the period in the late 1990s/early 2000s when three Scots, Peter Nicol, John White and Martin Heath, dominated without ever managing to compete against each other in a PSA final. Nicol later switched allegiance to represent England over a funding-related issue.

Scottish national coach Roger Flynn says performances augur well for a strong showing at the European Championships in Riccione, Italy, next month.

“We’ll field a four-man team, as usual, and hope to improve on a fourth-place finish in each of the past two years,” says Flynn. “Having not just Alan, Greg and Dougie but also Kevin Moran, Stuart Crawford and others home based at the moment means there is plenty of competition the lads can use to push each other on.”

The Geneva Open is in its 41st year making it one of the longest running on the circuit.

Australian Flynn adds: “Greg and Dougie can expect a boost in the next world rankings.

“Presently Dougie is No.125 but he will be bumped up a significant number of spots under a system that works the same way as tennis with this year’s results standing comparison with what happened the previous year.

“Dougie is particularly strong and has a great ability to put heat (pace) on the ball almost from a drop-shot position.

“Others need to create more of a swing but Dougie sets up quite well with a style that makes him very hard to read, which is a big advantage.

“Last year we only just lost out in the Europeans when edged out by Germany after the match score finished at 2-2. This time around the aim is to close the gap not just on Germany but England and France also.”

With that in mind the individual schedules in the lead up will be a bit more intensive, says Flynn. “There’s a big tournament coming up in Paris that Dougie might just gain access to when the next rankings come out unless he decides to go for the British under-23s. Then he is off to the West of Ireland event hoping to get into the draw for the Irish Open. With Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban (world No.77) already included that would be a big boost.”

Geneva Open champ Lobban has won two previous events whereas that was Kempsell’s first PSA final. The signs had been promising for Kempsell when he took Clyne to a deciding fifth game in the North of Scotland Open, something Lobban did against Clyne in this year’s Scottish Nationals.

To reach the Geneva final Kempsell defeated opponents from Gibraltar, England, Belgium and Egypt.

After a straightforward win against Anthony Brindle (Gibraltar) he edged home 11-8, 6-11, 14-12, 11-7 against England’s Mark Fuller in a gruelling match that took more than an hour for the first two games.

Fuller had previously defeated another Scot, Jamie Henderson, in his first round.

The quarter-final saw Kempsell ease through with a comfortable 3-0 win over Belgium’s Jan Van den Herrewegen saving valuable energy for the semi-final later in the day.

That was against Karim El Hammamy, the world junior champion who had followed up his first round upset win over the top seed from the Czech Republic with two more wins over higher-ranked opponents.

After edging the first game Kempsell fell behind before recovering to win 3-2 and reach what could be the first of many PSA finals.