Inverness squash player Greg Lobban celebrated the high point of his career last August and then endured the low point two months later – and he is determined to make 2017 the best yet once he regains fitness.
The high of 2016 was of course winning the World Doubles Championship crown alongside fellow Scot Alan Clyne in Darwin, Australia.
The low was the hamstring injury suffered when he was on the cusp of victory against New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson in the final of the Life Time Chicago Open in October.
At the stage the injury occurred Greg was 11-5, 11-6 up and tied at 9-9 in the third game.
He battled on, but eventually lost and is now nearly five months into six months of injury rehab.
However, the 24-year-old is in good spirits with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia just 13 months away.
Reflecting on the World Doubles Championship with Alan, another man from Inverness, Greg stated: “We had no expectations heading into the event really because we were a new partnership and we had not played doubles together in a major championship.
“We had practiced a lot together and played in some smaller events, but we weren’t sure how it would go abroad.
“With the event being in Australia and us beating Australian teams in the semi-final and the final the majority of the crowd were cheering for the opposition, but we just shut that out and there were a couple of Scottish flags there which was great.
“It is a learning curve for us as a pair, but we are certainly looking towards the Gold Coast and beyond.
“From the early ages of me playing squash, Alan was always someone that I looked up to given that he was from the same area as me and given that he was so good.
“We have kind of had the same path and I have tried to follow in his footsteps along the way – to win with him made it that extra bit special.
“The reception we have had since we lifted that trophy has been good. The feedback has been good and there has been a lot of people who were not perhaps interested in squash before coming up and congratulating me and wanting to find out more about the sport.
“To say you are a World champion is a special feeling and I think it has given myself, Alan and the whole of the Scottish team a lot of confidence as we continue the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in 2018.”
Greg, who currently has a PSA ranking of 60, explained that doubles and singles need to be looked at differently in squash and that the mindset for each can be slightly different.
“Singles and doubles are completely different games and training has to really be managed that way too because you have to work on different things,” he said.
“In doubles you have to work with your partner and the best partnerships always come out on top. It can be difficult to communicate during the rallies because the opposition are right on top of you and it can be pretty congested, but you work on hand signals and other ways to talk to each other.
“Also the 15 seconds between points are key to try and say what you have to or give your partner a certain look so they know what is coming.”
As for the injury, well obviously Greg was gutted at the time, but he believes he can come back a stronger and better athlete in a few months time.
“I was two points away from winning the match so I continued on after injury, but afterwards it became apparent that I had torn my hamstring pretty badly,” Greg, who is now based in Edinburgh, recounts.
“For a wee while I was down in the dumps, but everyone on my team has been really helpful and the medics are great with setting small targets and making sure you are always working.
“The good thing is that the Commonwealth Games are still some time away so I know I can be back fit for that and I really want to get a good run of form going later in 2017 ahead of that showpiece event.”
Earlier in the year, Greg took time out from his rehab programme to watch some of the finals and present prizes at the Scottish Junior Open in the capital.
He was very impressed by the talent on show – including Boy’s under-17 winner Alasdair Prott who trains out of the same Inverness Tennis and Squash Club that produced Greg and Alan.
“The squash I saw was really good and it is safe to say there are some good young players coming through in Scotland,” Greg said.
“I would also say to other kids who are thinking about giving squash a go to do so because it is great exercise, great fun and if nothing else you get to run around with your mates and have a laugh. Squash is growing in this country and it is exciting.”
Thanks to Weston Sports Marketing for the photo of Greg
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