England national coach Chris Robertson hopes having two world champions will lift the game
By SIMON REDFERN – Courtesy of England Squash and Racketball
England National Coach Chris Robertson has spelt out the importance of Laura Massaro’s World Championship triumph to squash in this country.
With the 30-year-old Lancastrian becoming the first English women’s world champion in 15 years, Robertson reckons that not only will that boost her confidence, but that the sport in England will receive a massive lift as well, particularly as it builds on Nick Matthew’s World Men’s Championship success last November in Manchester.
“I hope for Laura she gets the recognition that any World Champion of their sport should get,” he said. “That would range from accolades for her victory to the supreme confidence in her game and abilities to win more titles.
“For England Squash & Racketball, it enhances the brand that we try to be and signifies the type of result and performance that we target for the programme and the players we have on the senior programme.
“However, ultimately and importantly, it is Laura’s moment along with her support team that deserve all the rewards that come their way. Everyone linked to ESR benefits from Laura’s successes in Penang and that is how significant her result is for squash in this country.
“As number two seed, she went into the event with aspirations to win it, but the manner in which it was achieved was truly worthy of the title and efforts she put in. Her battling efforts all the way through the tournament were amazing to watch.”
Robertson viewed Massaro’s tense 3/2 final win over Egyptian Nour El Sherbini on the unreliable live streaming service.
“The match was very close and very competitive,” commented the former world no.3. “It had plenty of ebbs and flows along the way, adding to the drama and spectacle.
“For me, Laura’s ability to remain focused and play point by point and make her opponent defeat her, was the difference in the end. She won two games 11-9, which shows again her ability to play the big moments well and that is so critical in match play. After being down heavily in the fifth game, Laura stayed composed to reel the points back and this proved decisive in quickly changing her opponent’s momentum at the critical time.”
With England now boasting world champions in both men’s and women’s squash for the first time, Robertson hopes there will be a knock-on effect in terms of players, publicity and support.
“It inspires young boys and girls to emulate such greatness, and should motivate the academy players to follow in their footsteps or at the very least do everything they can to be able to one day have a chance to follow Nick’s and Laura’s achievements,” he said.
“It brings, hopefully, publicity and support to squash in England and that can only be good for all concerned, as squash is having to compete against Olympic sports and new sports wanting to be funded for their potential achievements.
“Furthermore, it can capture the imagination of the public by showing that this sport can excel on both gender levels, something that few others can and probably do.”
Matthew (right) invited the packed audience to join him in a round of applause and said: “That was a tremendous achievement, especially after she had so many tough matches on the way to the final, saving match balls and then having to adjust her thinking when she reached the final and instead of facing the top seed Nicol David she found herself as the favourite against Nour El Sherbini.
“Again, she handled that pressure very well to become world champion. We share the same coach in David Pearson and I hope her achievement will inspire more girls to take up this great sport.”
With a nod to his Scottish opponent, Matthew said how much he was looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the summer.
He said: “It is massively important for the Commonwealth Games to provide a great shop window for squash and we hope that the visiting IOC officials are in the front row. Maybe we should ask them to pay for their tickets.”
Source: England Squash and Racketball
Pictures courtesy of Patrick Lauson, Lynn Khoo and England Squash and Racketball