Israeli ace wins first PSA title on home soil and sets sights on top 100
Interview by ALAN THATCHER
Rising Israeli star Daniel Poleshchuk was voted PSA Player Of The Month for February after winning his first PSA title, the Israel Open, at his home club. Here he tells ALAN THATCHER about his life in squash.
11 POINTS WITH ISRAEL OPEN CHAMPION DANIEL POLESHCHUK
1: How did it feel to win your first major PSA title on home soil?
Winning the PSA Israel Open, being the first Israeli ever to win a PSA World Tour event, is an amazing feeling!
Winning this title means a lot to me, not only that it’s my first title in my professional career, but doing it in Israel, in my home club, in front of my friends and family, is really special for me!
2: You were two games down but came back to win 13-11 in the fifth in a match lasting 86 minutes. Having come through from qualifying, that meant six matches in a row to lift the title. How sore was the body after that tournament?
I was preparing for this tournament for quite a while and I stayed healthy. Playing in the qualification is very hard, especially when you win and a day after you already play in the maindraw. after each match I made sure I did a good cool down with recovery runs and stretches, and also I took my Herbalife recovery shake after each match.
The final was very hard and high paced. I really don’t know from where I got the energy to come back after being 2-0, 6-2 down and win 13-11 in the fifth. My body was sore after the final, I took few days off and now I feel good again.
3: You also had an impressive win over Ollie Pett in the semi-finals. Please talk us through that match.
In the beginning of the first game I didn’t really get going and he went on to lead 6-0, after having few hard and long rallies I kept fighting hard and played some winners and went on to take the game 13-11. In the second it was the same story, he was 6-1 and I made sure that I will just keep getting all the balls back and make it harder for him to win points.
At 7-4, he started making some mistakes and slowing down the pace. At 10-7 to me I noticed that he had done something to his right leg and so he couldn’t lunge properly. I won that 11-7. Going on to the third game, after he took an injury break, he just couldn’t make it to a high level and I took advantage of it and won 11-3.
4: How strong is the squash scene in Israel? Where do you train? Please tell us about your coach and training partners.
The squash in Israel is not very popular. However, we have some good seniors and juniors. When I’m in Israel I train in Herzliya Squash Club with Nadav Wilensky, who was the 2009 Men’s Maccabi Games Glod Medalist, He has been coaching me since I was 11 years old. I train with the number 2 in Israel Ido Avron who is a former PSA top 120 player, also I train with the number 4 in israel Avihai Bar Moha and my friend Nir Cohen.
However, when I am in Poland, I train in Bielsko Biala in Modelarnia Squash and Fitness Club. My main coach is Maciej Klis, he is also the owner of the club. Also in Modelarnia I work with Pawel Salamon, who is my fitness coach. I’m traveling to Czech Republic, Hungary or other countries to play some sparring matches.
5: How much can you learn from your neighbours in Egypt?
I had the opportunity to train with the ElShorbagy brothers when I was based in Millfield School. It was a great experience for me to learn a lot of things from them and it has improved my game a lot.
6: You described (on Twitter) that your time at Millfield was “the five best years of my life”. What were the highlights? And how much influence has Jonah Barrington had on your career?
Having the opportunity to be in Millfield school for five years was an unbelievable experience for me. Leaving home, family and friends at the age of 13 was very hard for me, but Millfield and especially the Squash Academy there made it feel like it was my home. I was coached by the great Jonah Barrington and Ian Thomas.
They have helped me with my game, being able to mix my attacking and fast style with the traditional English style and using both at the right times. They are both amazing coaches and I thank them for what they have done for me in the past five years.
7: How much rivalry is there between Millfield and Wycliffe?
When I first came to the school at 13, I was introduced to the National School competition and I saw that our main rivals were Wycliffe. There is a lot of history between the two schools and they usually meet in the final every year and fight it out for the Champions spot. I am very happy that I was part of the winning team a few times.
8: Tell us about your Millfield team-mates. Who did you enjoy training with the most? Who got up to most mischief?
Every year we had a great squad with good people. I was training with Marwan Elshorbagy for three years and he was a very good training partner, teaching me different things on court.
I would say that he was also the chief mischief-maker as he is a very funny character and always wanted a good laugh.
9: How did you feel when you learned that Jonah had been released by Millfield?
When I saw Mohamed’s tweet I was shocked. It’s a very big loss for Millfield School as Jonah was a great coach and has produced many top PSA players, and the way he has been released by Millfield is just very sad.
10: What are your professional targets for the remainder of 2015?
Currently I am based between Israel and Poland and my plans for the rest of 2015 are to keep playing good squash and stay healthy, learning from my matches, beating players that are better than me and getting into the top 100 by the end of the year
11: Who are your main sponsors? Do you receive any support from the Israeli government?
– Squash Promotion Group – company making glass court events
– Salming – Clothes and Shoes
– Herbalife – supplying sports nutrition
– DotBlue – Internet Experts & Graphic Design
– McHair – Hairdresser chain
– Heroes – upcoming squash rackets brand
– Modelarnia – my home club
I also receive some funding from “Ayelet”. It’s an organisation in Israel for non-Olympic sports.
SQUASH MAD: Daniel, thank you very much for some fascinating answers and good luck with achieving all your career goals, both short-term and long-term.
Pictures courtesy of Daniel Poleshchuk, PSA and Israel Open