Edinburgh Sports Club men are today flying the flag for Scottish squash by making a first appearance in the European Team Championships starting in Riccione, Italy.
They earned a place in the 16-team draw when they defeated Dalgety Bay in June to lift their first Scottish title since 1989. Now the club are preparing for a major step up while targeting a place among the dozen who will contest the leading positions on Friday.
Teams from Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, England, Luxembourg, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Belgium and the host country are also participating and Sports Club professional Simon Boughton said: “We have been drawn in a pool with Colets (London), Sandweiler (Luxembourg) and Halfrsfjord (Norway).
“And it is a measure of the challenge we face that Colets’ line-up has Alex Gough, former world No. 6, down at fourth in their team order.
“The Luxembourg team are seeded fifth so realistically we are targeting the match against the Norwegians which is last on our schedule tomorrow so as the reach the play-offs starting on Friday.
“Regardless of how we eventually fare qualification has been good for the club.
“In addition to a tournament squad of myself, Ross McHoul, Jacques Lass, Colin Stirrat, Andrew Wilkinson and Nick Forrest, of whom four will play in each tie, we are taking 16 club members along. As well as providing support, social matches have been arranged for them against Rimini and Bologna clubs.”
Sports Club women contested European titles around 20 years ago and it has taken some time for the men to follow suit.
Boughton added: “Partly it has come down to our refusal to pay individual players to turn out whereas some rivals have been happy to go down that route.
“We didn’t really expect to win the Scottish title at Bridge of Allan but came good on the day beating local rivals Grange and then Dalgety Bay.”
This year’s Scottish title went to the wire as Boughton edged out Dalgety Bay’s Iain Tennant in a five-game thriller.
There is no Scottish women’s team competing in the event this year.