After five years away from the sport, Fiona Moverley is making moves on the top
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
Fiona Moverley has made a magnificent return to competitive squash after financial constraints forced her to walk away from the WSA World Tour for a five-year gap. Here she tells Alan Thatcher how she is already reaching her goals, loving life back on the Tour, and reveals how much she enjoys getting up on a Monday morning to go training.
SQUASH MAD INTERVIEW:
11 POINTS WITH FIONA MOVERLEY
1: Fiona, it’s great to see you doing so well on your return to squash. Please tell us about your recent highlights on court.
A: I have to say the Nationals was a great event for me… winning the first round against Sarah Kippax is probably my best result to date as it’s the highest-ranked player I have beaten, but to then go on in the quarters and narrowly lose to Sarah-Jane Perry was again something I am very proud of.
Another of my highlights was in Edinburgh about a month ago where I came from being unseeded to take the title (right). I wasn’t playing my best squash during the whole weekend but was determined to come away with the trophy and managed to knock out a few seeds on the way too.
I beat Nele Gilis of Belgium in the final and it was my second title out of five tournaments back on the tour.
2: How’s the body holding up to the tournament schedule?
A: Well, It’s never easy going from working in an office to putting yourself through training twice a day, six days a week, so it wasn’t easy at first and I had to have a period of transition. I’m sure I speak for all professional athletes when I say that it isn’t fun getting up every day hurting from head to toe but it’s part of the job and I wouldn’t change anything about it. What’s the saying…no pain no gain?!
I’ve also had to deal with a bad calf injury before Christmas that put me out for 2.5 months so I have only really been back playing in the new year. Obviously this wasn’t the start I was hoping for but it’s part of being an athlete and it’s definitely made me mentally stronger and more determined than ever.
3: Where do you train, and with whom?
A: I am based at Hull and East Riding Squash Club in Hull. My squash coach is Andy Cockerill who I am on court with five days a week and my strength and conditioning coach is Michael Reid, who does all my fitness and strength work. The three of us make a great team and I think it’s because of that I’ve managed to progress so quickly in such a short space of time.
4: Why did you decide to take a break from squash?
A: Unfortunately it wasn’t through choice that I had to cut my career short. I had very little funding to support me in order to continue, which led to the very hard decision to stop playing on the world tour.
Even as an amateur again I still played and trained five nights a week after work and competed in leagues, so I never stopped playing completely, I love it far too much to do that! Was a hard few years, though, because my aims and dream were still the same and it was difficult to have to settle for playing locally rather than on the world tour.
5: What did you do for a living while you were away from the game?
A: I was working in Hull within the school sports network, looking after 70 primary and 12 secondary schools sports programmes, initiatives and competitions. It was a good job and satisfying, too, as I had increased participation in school sport and helped give children more opportunities to get into sport, whether it be as a participant or in coaching or volunteer roles as well. My colleagues were very supportive when I told them I was going back pro and we still keep in touch now, and they are interested in my progress, which is lovely.
6: What did you miss most about squash during that time?
A: I strangely missed the training! I love competing in tournaments and there is nothing better than winning, but I missed wanting to get up in a morning and improve an aspect of my game. Whether it be on court or off court, physical or psychological, there is always something to improve.
7: Has your recent form surprised you?
A: I d have to say no, not really because I’ve been working exceptionally hard and it’s what I’ve been training for over the last six months. I have always believed I could compete at the highest level and I hope I am starting to work my way up the rankings and shown from my results that I am capable of doing so.
8: How’s your schedule, building up to the British Open?
A: I am very busy in March, competing in three tournaments (Seattle, Calgary and Geneva). I’m still working my way to completing eight tournaments so I can maximise my average for the ranking system.
Then I am planning to be home for most of April up until the British, so I can get a solid five weeks’ training in preparation for the event. I have been given a local spot into the qualifying which is great as my current ranking may not be high enough to get in automatically, and It is a special competition for me as it’s held in my local city (about 5/10 minutes from my house!) where I know I will have a lot of support from my friends and family.
9: What are your main targets for the rest of 2015?
A: I sat down with my team when I first decided to come back on the Tour and set three specific targets for my first season, two of which I have already achieved. Obviously I want to achieve the third by June and then I will look at setting new targets from the following season. I hope to keep improving and climbing my way up the rankings every month so you will have to watch this space! I’m not giving anything away…. you’ll have to read it in my autobiography in a few years!! Haha.
10: Please tell us about any sponsors you may have.
A: I have recently been offered a full sponsorship from Harrow so hopefully, as of April, I will be using all of their equipment. I have had some sponsorship from the local squash club as well as friends and family, however I am still open to financial sponsorship for advertising on clothing etc if any companies would like to come forward.
11: What’s been your happiest moment since coming back to squash, on or off court?
A: This may sound really daft but I’d have to say that first Monday morning I woke up as a full-time professional again. I was so happy and excited to be back and looking forward to my first training session. I felt as though it was the start of what I hope to be an incredible journey and successful career.
Pictures courtesy of STEVE CUBBINS (Edinburgh Open and British Nationals)