Daryl admits ‘It’s more of a semi-retirement’ as he eyes a place in next year’s Commonwealth Games
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
England squash legend Daryl Selby is aiming to claim as many scalps as possible in his farewell appearance at next week’s Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
Selby, who turned 39 last week, has drawn France’s world No.13 Gregoire Marche in the first round on Sunday and will be aiming for a repeat of last year’s Canary Wharf success when he beat British No.1 Joel Makin on the opening day.
If he wins, he faces Egypt’s No.4 seed Karim Abdel Gawad in the second round on Tuesday.
Although Selby will not be playing in any more of the squash “Majors” after this he still intends to play smaller events in the hope of being selected for England in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
He has accumulated 111 England caps so far and is expecting to add to that tally in next month’s World Team Championships in Malaysia.
During his career he has reached 51 tournament finals and won 31 of them. In PSA World Tour events he has reached 24 finals and won 13.
Once again, Selby can be guaranteed to draw on the support of a sellout home crowd at the superb East Wintergarden venue on Sunday.
Selby, from Colchester, is looking forward to the occasion. He said: “This will be my last appearance at Canary Wharf and, in all likelihood, my last major PSA World Tour tournament.
“This will most likely be my final big event and really couldn’t have picked a better one as it’s always been the tournament closest to my heart. It’s not an official retirement; more of a semi-retirement!
“Beating Joel last year was great, but I have had some great matches and battles over the years. I have a distinct memory of winning a massive match against my good friend Borja Golan from Spain (in 2015) in about two hours and completely mucking up the schedule!”
Selby, Golan and James Willstrop (the latter two are both 38) are the three senior citizens of the PSA World Tour and all will be in action at Canary Wharf on Sunday, with four-times champion Willstrop meeting Mohamed Abbouelghar and the Spaniard playing Youssef Soliman in the final match of the day.
After so many marathon matches down the years, Selby is enjoying the shorter, best-of-three games format employed by Canary Wharf during the early rounds.
He confirmed he will be going on court to attack against Marche on Sunday and added: “Yes, I’ll be going flat out indeed! I do like the best of three these days, I must admit.”
The winners of Sunday’s ties go through to face the top eight seeds in the second round spread over Monday and Tuesday.
The strongest draw in the tournament’s 18-year history highlights Egypt’s dominance of the sport, featuring three world champions, Ali Farag, Tarek Momen and Gawad, plus recent US Open champion Mostafa Asal, who will be making his debut at Canary Wharf after a colourful first year on the PSA World Tour.
The rest of the seeds are equally daunting, led by 2019 winner Paul Coll from New Zealand (seeded two), the recent Qatar Classic champion Diego Elias (5), British number one Makin (7) and Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the 2019 British Open champion (8).
Following the withdrawal of original No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy due to suspension, England’s four-times champion James Willstrop comes into the draw and plays Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar.
Due to changes in the draw, wild card Charlie Lee now meets Baptiste Masotti from France.
Above: A battle royal with Borja Golan at Canary Wharf in 2015
11 POINTS WITH DARYL SELBY
1: Well, Daryl, the moment has finally arrived as you step onto court for your final “major” PSA tournament. You could not have chosen a finer occasion than this to say farewell in front of your adoring fans at Canary Wharf. How’s the body holding up?
A: Yes this will most likely be my final big event and really couldn’t have picked a better one as it’s always been the tournament closest to my heart. It’s not an official ‘retirement’ more of a semi retirement!
2: You’ve enjoyed some amazing battles at the East Wintergarden down the years. Beating Joel Makin on Super Sunday last year was an incredible result and you pushed Tarek Momen hard in the second round, too. Please talk us through a few of your favourite Canary Wharf classics.
A: Last year was great, but have had some great matches and battles over the years. I have a distinct memory of winning a massive match against my good friend Borja Golan in about 2 hours and completely mucking up the schedule!
3: You showed last year that the best of three format absolutely suits your style of play, so I’m guessing you will be going flat out on day one against Gregoire Marche?
A: Flat out indeed! I do like the best of 3 these days I must admit…
4: How much do the crowd help when you need to dig deep in big matches here at Canary Wharf?
A: Hugely, one of the best atmospheres in squash and luckily I mostly have them on my side at Canary Wharf.
5: Becoming England captain must have filled you with enormous pride. Plus being part of a phenomenal era with England team-mates Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, Peter Barker, Adrian Grant and yourself all rising to the top or very close to the top of the world rankings. You and James are the Last Men Standing of that incredible group, what have been your favourite moments when pulling on an England shirt?
A: An amazing era of players and hugely proud to have shared being part of an England team with all of them. We’ve had some fantastic moments all together and ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
6: From an era when English players dominated the rankings, we are now seeing a seismic change with Egypt ruling the roost in men’s and women’s squash at senior and junior level. We have seen this changing of the guard throughout the past 25 years with first Pakistan, then Australia, and now England. Everything, they say, goes in cycles. What do you think are the secrets to Egypt’s success? And what do England (and other nations) need to do to challenge Egypt’s current supremacy?
A: Egypt have a huge amount of junior players in the sport, which is fantastic. The competition over there breeds success and with the combination of a lot of good coaches it means they are truly the force to be reckoned with within squash for the foreseeable future. England and other nations will need a huge push of the sport again within their own countries at trying to increase junior participation. This is the key, in my opinion.
Above: Daryl Selby plays Egypt’s Fares Dessouky at Canary Wharf in 2019
7: One final question involving England. Will you still be pulling on the England shirt during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next summer?
A: We’ll see but I would love to one last time, yes.
8: You are renowned for some truly incredible trick shots. Which ones have been your absolute favourites?
A: I always like to try different shots on court, sometimes to my detriment but sometimes it wins me points as well. I always want to entertain the crowd as much as possible, I think that is huge to help grow the sport, we need players to be creative, imaginative and engaging. Anything through the legs always seems to be a popular one! Topspin when you catch it right though is also a lovely feeling..
9: And please name some of the best (or possibly most outrageous) trick shots or mishits from opponents when you have been on the receiving end?
A: I don’t remember any of those as they are immediately erased from my memory!
10: I always feel that Canary Wharf is like a huge family reunion for the squash community. Please tell us about the incredible support you have received from your own squash-loving family. What special moments stand out?
A: Well I wouldn’t have been playing squash without them because unless Dad played then there is no way I would have ended up playing, I would have been playing a different sport. They have always supported me and for that I will be forever grateful. Winning the British Champs in 2011 was the one that resonates with my family the most I think as it was the culmination of driving me around the country and funding me for all those years!
11: With a young family of your own, it was great to see you on court on World Squash Day with one of your children. Any signs of a next generation of young Selby squash stars coming through, or is it too early to say?
A: There is potential there yes, but it just depends what other sports they get into first! I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question that you will see one of them on the Canary Wharf court in the future..
12: And here’s the tiebreak (and you might need to put your business suit and tie on to answer it). You clearly have your career future mapped out with your Dynamic 7 Agency. Will squash continue to be a big part of your life as you navigate this major transition?
A: Squash will always be a big part of my life and I’ll continue to help in any way possible to try and get squash as a sport and all its players the recognition they deserve.
TRIBUTES TO DARYL SELBY
Obviously I have spent a lot of time with Daryl lately so was privy to this but will definitely be sad to see yet another of our generation hang up their (PSA) racket.
Daryl has had an amazing career reaching top 10 in the world and winning the National Championship in 2011.
He still is an amazing team player and would be one of the first names on the team sheet if I was naming an England team that I’ve played in.
Always amazing company, and a good friend, I’m sure Daryl will remain heavily involved in the sport. I wish him all the best for one last hurrah in the Commonwealth Games next summer.
Daryl has always been one of the smartest players I have played against on Tour. He is very smart in the way he places the ball around the court and how he absorbs his opponents, and his defensive game is flawless. So is his movement.
I always watch his movement on court and try to understand how he can be so effective and efficient. He is one of the best players to learn from when it comes to movement.
I have watched a lot of his matches and seen a lot of his big wins as he made it the world top 10. We have enjoyed a lot of big matches at a lot of different venues and it’s always nice to share the court with him.
Even his dad Paul was also very supportive of my squash and advised me when I was young. He happily shared what he saw and what I needed, and Daryl was also willing to share advice whenever I asked him for it.
We have always got on really well, both as competitors on court and off court as well.
I haven’t seen much of him recently so it will be nice to see him play at Canary Wharf one last time this year.
The first time I played Daryl was back in 2006 when I was only 18, and for the following 15 years we’ve had some crazy long matches that went both ways.
He’s definitely one of the most skilful English players on tour and his rise to the World’s top 10 has been truly impressive.
He’s also helped Team England win the World Teams title back in 2013 (by beating me :D). Add to that his achievements at the Commonwealth Games, he must be really proud of everything he’s accomplished in the game.
The day had to come but I honestly must say that it’s still extremely sad. It’s probably now just Daryl, James Willstrop and Borja Golan still holding the torch for that generation.
It really is sad to see them go because we’ve grown up watching them and looking up to them. In terms of manners, before even the style of play, Daryl is very well known for his attacking skills and coming up on the shot of the month competition month after month.
His attitude and how he carries himself on and off the court have always been great and it’s something that we’ve all learned from, so it’s really sad to see him go.
I’ve also had the privilege to serve with him on the board of the PSA and see how passionate he is about the game, so everyone will be sad to see him leave but we are very excited to see him still involved in the sport.
I have known Daryl since the junior days, playing him at the British junior open under-17 quarter finals in Sheffield. I still remember our first match 🙂
It has been an honour to share the court numerous times either on the PSA World Tour, the European or World Teams, and in exhibitions.
Watching him growing, improving his game to reaching the top 10, Daryl has always been a rock while playing with the England shirt too and got to become a World and European champion many times with the team.
He can really be proud of all his achievements, and I want to congratulate him for all of them.
I really liked the way he was moving on the court, very smooth, great counter and smart tactically.
There was always a surprising trick shot that could come from anywhere at any time in a match.
We also had great/fun moments outside the court. He is a great lad to hang out with and loves to share his passion for squash with anyone.
Looking forward to seeing him again and wishing the best for his after career.
Daryl was one of the best movers that I played with. His movement, his hold and his basic game was something special. His pure talent and personality made happy so many crowds around the world and specially here in Canary Wharf.
Daryl was one of my toughest opponents since juniors until now!! But also one of the nicest guys that I met in squash. I hope he enjoy so much this Canary Wharf edition and all the crowd show him all the affection that he deserves.
(Daryl and Borja are the two oldest competitors at Canary Wharf this year. Daryl was 39 last week and Borja is 38.)
Huge thanks to Howard Harding (www.squashinfo.com) for the in-depth statistics
Pictures courtesy of PSA, Steve Line (www.squashpics.com) and Steve Cubbins (www.squashsite.co.uk)