Friday, March 1, 2024

Exclusive Interview: Powerhouse Pilley gets in the swim for 2014

Cam and Line launch 2014 with a swim in the freezing cold North Sea
Making a splash: Cam and Line launch 2014 with a holiday dip in the freezing cold North Sea

Swimming in the North sea, doubles practice and shopping in America…
11 points with Cameron Pilley

By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor

Australian number one Cameron Pilley is gearing up for a busy year, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow a main target.

Pilley, currently ranked 18 in the world, will be leading Team Australia in the singles and doubles, aiming to add to the gold medal he collected with Kasey Brown in the mixed doubles in Delhi in 2010. He also collected a bronze in the men’s doubles partnering Ryan Cuskelly.

The management of Australia’s elite squash players also has a new look this year, with the closure of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and the launch of a new system called Winning Edge.

Pilley said: “It’s the end of an era with the AIS program finishing up and it’s going to be interesting to see how the new system goes.Obviously it’s not just squash that will be affected but all sports that were involved with the AIS. I suppose it’s an exciting change really and I’m looking forward to being part of it.

“The Winning Edge is about producing the world’s best athletes and I’m sure squash will benefit from it. Squash in Australia is in a rebuilding phase and I’m confident The Winning Edge will help us get stronger.”

1. Cam: Happy New Year. What’s this I hear about you and your girlfriend Line Hansen risking hypothermia by swimming in the North Sea recently?

Well, Line suggested it and it seemed like a fun thing to do at the time. It’s kind of a Dutch tradition thing where about 25,000 people all over the country jump into the sea to kick off the New Year. First and last time I’ll be doing that.

2. The source of all these freezing temperatures is obviously the weather system currently affecting large areas of the United States. Now you’re flying into the eye of the storm as you head to the Tournament of Champions. How much extra cold-weather gear will you be packing?

Yeah it’s going to be interesting heading over there next week. I’ll probably take my normal amount of winter clothes or maybe even less as I want to do some shopping over there! Always seem to over pack anyway so I may as well take less and buy stuff if I need it.

3. What are your thoughts on the ToC and the atmosphere surrounding one of the major events on the calendar?

The ToC is my favourite event on Tour. Obviously with it being held in NYC is a huge buzz itself. The set-up of the court and how close the crowd are seated to the court brings another dimension, similar to that at Canary Wharf. It’s such an electric atmosphere.

4: Do you prepare any differently when you are approaching one of the Majors in squash?

I don’t do anything massively different than I would playing a smaller/mid size event, although as a major event approaches I find the intensity in training lifts a little. You realise you are off to play one of the biggest events on tour, you’re playing in front of a big crowd and playing live on PSA SquashTV. All professional sportsmen want to perform at their best on the biggest stage.

5. I see from the draw that you’ve landed a qualifier in the first round then a likely match-up with world number one Nick Matthew (pictured right) in the second. Without wishing to prejudge anything, the chance to chop a World champion must fire you up enormously?

Obviously you have to take each and every event one match at a time. The depth of Pro squash is huge these days so that is the focus. I do love playing the top players in the world though and if I get the chance to play the current world champion then I’ll give it a bloody good crack!

6. A lot of Aussies are based in New York. I’m assuming you will enjoy plenty of support over there. When it’s all over, will you stick around NYC or get the first flight back to Europe?

Yeah there’s quite a few Aussies over there, especially retired pros that now coach, so it will be good to catch up with a few of them. I am heading straight to Detroit after NYC for the Motor City Open. I’ve played that event for many years and it’s a well-supported event. There’s always an entertaining tournament party that happens too!

Cam keeps his eye on the ball7. With the Commonwealth Games looming in the summer, I know you have been getting in plenty of sneaky doubles practice. What’s it like playing with the the lower tin?

Yes getting in some much needed doubles practice where I can. The 13 inch lower tin is so much better than before, but it would have been nice to use the 11 inch tin. Quite a few of us tested and played on it and it was actually great to watch, but unfortunately some people didn’t like it.

8: Are you close to finalising your doubles teams?

We did some mixing and matching recently to try different combos and see what worked best, but we won’t pick our final teams for a while yet.

9. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? If so, how are they going? 

I don’t really do those. Why wait until January 1st to do something? Although I love watching how busy the gym gets in January before it totally fades back to normal by March.

10. How can Australia reproduce the golden era of the Martins, Dittmar, Eyles, Robbo, Michelle, Sarah, Carol, then Palmer and Whitey?

Good question! I think the bottom line is numbers. We need more and more kids playing the game and getting into it, then from there hopefully some will kick on and go professional. It’s also great to have Rod Eyles and Sarah Fitz-Gerald heavily involved with Squash Australia now. They bring so much experience with them.

11. One last question (well two, actually). Is Ramy the best player you have ever seen? And how do you think those Aussie legends would have dealt with his fire power?

There’s no denying how good Ramy is as his record speaks for itself, but I’m sure those Aussie boys would have sorted him out!

Cameron Pilley was talking to Squash Mad editor Alan Thatcher. Pilley will kick-start his 2014 campaign at the Tournament of Champions later this month. To view our preview and a full men’s and women’s draw, click here.

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