Edinburgh-based squash professional Alan Clyne is preparing to launch a renewed offensive on the world rankings in Australia early next month after last season saw him leap from 49 to 28.
The 25-year-old, who trains out of Heriot-Watt University’s sports complex at Riccarton, took a “have racket, will travel” approach to 2011-12 and a monster schedule of 17 events was handsomely rewarded.
“I’ve become a bit of an expert on jet-lag,” laughed Clyne between his twice daily training sessions. “At some point soon I’m going to have to sit down with my coach, Roger Flynn, and rationalise all the travelling a bit.”
Those journeys between Australia and the USA, however, and all points in between, have been justified by a ranking which provides access to elite events which are restricted to 32 competitors.
And, to start the campaign, Alan finds himself seeded eighth at the $70,000 Australian Open in Canberra from August 13-19.
“My climb up the rankings has been steady and, over the previous two seasons, I jumped around 30 places each time.
“However, I know it will get tougher as I continually come across better players.”
Last season definitely had quite a few highlights for Clyne, though, including playing for the second time on a specially constructed court in the concourse of New York’s Grand Central Station at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions. However, getting to play on that court with all the commuters milling about and watching through the glass walls was worth the energy expended in a near two hour win over Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in the final qualifying round.
“Rather than finding the commuters distracting, we focused even more on our performances and part of the effect of constructing that court was to have the tournament shown on ESPN in the USA. New camera techniques are starting to not only convey to television audiences the speed required but make it easier to follow the ball and Sky Sports are also picking up events like the Super Series finals.
“Another highlight was reaching the final of the Irish Open after I defeated the Spanish world top 20 player Borja Golari 3-2 after 112 minutes.”
Little wonder Clyne has been waxing lyrical on social media about the number of sweat-soaked shirts he occasionally gets through during the course of a match, but there can be little doubt that durability and stamina are major assets.
Admitting to “just a couple of training sessions” during the one week break he allowed himself between seasons, Alan also looks forward to helping Scotland build on recent success in the lead-up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“Myself, Greg Lobban, Chris Small and Stuart Crawford took great pleasure in finishing fourth at the European Team Championships, our best achievement since 1999,” he said. “Preparations are now under way for Glasgow 2014 based on adapting to new heights for the tin in doubles matches. They’ll go down to 13 inches compared with 17 inches for pro singles matches and 19 inches for normal club play. Fortunately, Heriot-Watt’s court has variable tins.”
There is also a possibility Alan will be seen more on home courts in the lead up to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games.
“I won the Scottish national title last season and would like to include the professional tournament held each January at Edinburgh Sports Club if it can be fitted in.
“The problem previously was that the Sports Club event didn’t carry ranking points which were all-important in trying to get into the top 32.
“I’ll certainly play the British Grand Prix scheduled for Manchester in September and believe I have a bit more climbing to do ranking-wise.”
The Edinburgh University PE graduate has a lot on his plate. His commitments extend to helping the Surrey Sports Club in Guildford compete in the English League, Copenhagen in the Danish League and Schwandorf in the German League, as well as trips to events in Qatar, Malaysia, Australia, USA, Kuwait, Macau and Scandanavia. But as last year proved, he has the success to back it up. Long may his rise continue.