The Carlisle Squash Club 50th Anniversary Open will be the first of two tournaments on the Challenger Tour this week to be held on English soil, with the Challenger 5 level men’s competition taking place from Wednesday, June 29 to Saturday, July 2.
Carlisle Squash Club will play host to the tournament, where Spain’s Ivan Perez will be the top seed, as he aims to win a second title of the season following his victory at the Open de Cognac in November. England’s Ben Smith will also be aiming for a second win of the campaign after claiming his maiden victory on Tour at the BRESS Breda Open in April.
The pair will be the top two seeds for the competition, with Jamaica’s Christopher Binnie, fresh from competing in the British Virgin Islands last week, and Irish No.1 Sean Conroy, who we spoke to prior to the tournament.
“I was playing well in my last few PSA events and also at the Europeans in May, which was my most recent event. I have never played in Carlisle before so I’m looking forward to a new tournament,” the Irishman explained.
“I had a rest after my last event in May. My last few weeks of preparation have been good. I am usually training in Bristol but I have spent the last two weeks back training in my hometown of Dublin. I trained a lot with the Firefit team, Conor Dunne and Stephen Lawlor. It was great to get some new input and get a sports science approach to the sport.”
The 28-year-old will be aiming to win his second Tour title this week, following on from his maiden victory at the City of Greater Bendigo International in 2018. However, he knows how tough it will be for him to take another victory, especially with the strength of draws on the Challenger Tour.
“It was a special moment for me winning my first title and it would mean a lot to do it again. Every match on the PSA tour is tough these and I have learned to focus on one match at a time,” Conroy admitted.
“When the draws come out for the Challenger 5 & 10 level events, it seems like there’s always five or six players that could win the event which makes it more exciting. I have reached five semi-finals since then but unfortunately haven’t yet been able to put my name on another PSA title.”
Conroy is currently the Irish No.1, and he represented his country at several team events over the past few years, something he is proud of, and will look to continue doing over the next few years as well.
The Irishman is also looking at breaking inside the world’s top 100 for the first time in his career. He is the World No.142, having been as high as World No.111, and he believes that consistency will be the key if he is to move inside the top 100.
“It’s always a privilege playing at the Europeans and World Team Championships for Ireland. We have a lot of young players coming up so I think we have a great few years ahead of us.
“I have been working more on my physicality. Squash has become more and more physical. I think the margins are small between the different levels on the rankings but I think it comes down to consistency a lot. I need to become more consistent in order to break into the top 100,” he explained.
“I have been getting more involved in coaching this year and also studying a couple of courses which I felt has helped me mentally and made me enjoy my squash more. I’m looking forward to get back playing tournaments again.”
First Round Draw: Carlisle Squash Club 50th Anniversary Open
 Ivan Perez (ESP) v Lewis Doughty (ENG)
Perry Malik (ENG) v  Ryunosuke Tsukue (JPN)
 Elliott Morris Devred (WAL) v Liam Marrison (CAN)
[WC] Ben Hetherington (CAN) v  Christopher Binnie (JAM)
 Sean Conroy (IRL) v Joel Arscott (NZL)
Finnlay Withington (ENG) v  Owain Taylor (WAL)
 James Peach (ENG) v Henrik Mustonen (FIN)
Alasdair Prott (SCO) v  Ben Smith (ENG)