Skip to content

Season Review: Paul Coll

What an incredible season it has been for New Zealand’s Paul Coll, as he became the first Kiwi male to reach the summit of the World Rankings, sitting at World No.1 for the first time in March 2022.

Coll also claimed wins at the Canary Wharf Classic, CIB Squash Open Black Ball and Allam British Open, retaining his title in Hull after winning a maiden Platinum crown a year earlier.

“It’s been a super long season coming on, you know, back to back seasons, there hasn’t been an off season for a good couple years. So, it’s been a very tough season and I think a lot of players at the moment, you know, kind of feeling the effects of that.” Coll said.

“But you know, for myself, personally, it’s been a pretty crazy 12 months for me, obviously. You know, ticking off a lot of goals for myself, reaching World No.1, British Open title, it’s been a hell of a season. And it’s been something that, you know, it’s probably one of the best seasons… Is by far the best season in my life.

“But it’s also been, you know, quite an emotionally draining season as well. A lot of pressure coming in, and a lot of new pressures that I, you know, have experienced this season. So, it’s been a really good learning season for myself as well, you know, I’ve learned a lot about myself and a lot about how to handle those sorts of pressures. I’ve loved every minute of it, even though it’s been, you know, extremely hard and tiring. It’s been great.

“The first month [of being World No.1], I was just on cloud nine, obviously, I felt like a weight dropped off my shoulders. Everything I worked for came through and it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, you know, better than winning any tournament, it really was the most special moment of my career to date.

“And it was actually you know, that sort of the last month actually, when I lost the World No.1 and then trying to get back to World No.1, obviously, that’s when I actually started feeling probably more pressure. Obviously being World No.1 at the World Champs, there’s a lot of pressure. So at the start, I was just loving it, man, I was just really enjoying it but then it sort of soon turned to a lot of pressure, and that was quite tough, I’m not gonna lie.

“I stopped feeling myself on court and this week, I’ve just tried to go back to just enjoying my squash and enjoying the game, because yeah, I wouldn’t say I wasn’t enjoying it. But I definitely was feeling a lot of pressure and I think that was when I sort of lost the World No.1 spot, and then all of a sudden, I was trying to get that back.

“And it was a different pressure, then it all happened in three months, you know, it was just a lot going on for me. So like I said, it’s a lot, I learned a lot from from that experience and I think I’ll be a better person and a better player for that.

“I mean, I believe I can win every tournament, no matter what my ranking is but I think when you’re World No.1, there is no good time to lose. No matter where you lose in the tournament, whether it’s first round or final, I think when you’re World No.1, everyone is just expecting you to win. There’s just a lot of expectation around, you know, being number one and going into every tournament and it’s tiring.

“But again, it’s something that I’ve learned from over the past sort of four or five months, to try and deal with that a bit better and just sort of put those expectations aside and go back to enjoying the process and enjoying every tournament.

“I probably have been sick this season, more than I have ever been in any other season. And I think that’s just my body being rundown, whether that’s the back to back seasons, or what, but it’s something that’s, you know, spoke to a lot of people about trying to work out what’s the best way to, to manage my career and my season in this new sort of era that it’s in at the moment. So again, like, I learned a lot from from this sort of, you know, past five months about myself and about how to handle the pressures.

“I’ll do anything I can to be at the top again, but hopefully, you know, I’ve learned from when I was there for those three months, and when I get back there, hopefully it’s a bit more familiar for me, and it’s not something so new, but I’m very proud of my journey this season.

“And what I did when I was World No.1, I had a lot of times where I had to defend that spot, and I didn’t. I played some really good stuff when I was there. But I was very proud of how I handled the situations. You know, a lot of times I was under the pump and I think I responded well.

“I always obviously respected those guys immensely and I’ve spoken to Greg Gaultier quite a lot about it. He’s been very helpful and just experiencing the pressure and what they dealt with for a short period of time. And, obviously, you can talk about how you know how much they’re under pressure, but until you actually experienced that I think you can’t really relate and those guys that hold it for so long, it’s just you know, it just makes it even more impressive what they did, and, you know, hopefully I can do that at some stage in my career.

“An immense amount of respect and just, you know, he’s just so understanding of what it takes and what sort of pressures are around it. Being number one is the greatest thing ever, so you’re on a constant high but like I said, like, there’s literally no good time to lose. Okay, if you’re World No.3 and you’re losing semis, that’s okay, that’s expected. If you’re World No.1, and you lose in the semis, it’s a disaster. If you lose in the final, it’s not good, you know, so there’s never a good time to lose.

“And I think just having that little bit extra publicity, the public pressure, that public expectation that’s put on you to win absolutely everything all season long. And, you know, no matter if you’re coming off a tournament, and straight into another tournament, the public perception still that you have to win. And if you don’t win, it’s a failure.

“You’re going from the tournament to tournament, you’re making every final, I think it’s very tiring, and, you sort of understand why some, I sort of relate to.. Some pros that would win and then lose the next tournament, I could never really understand why that happens. I did it when I was looking up to the World No.1s, you know, ‘Why are they losing?’, but it’s tough. It’s tough, and it’s very hard and something I sort of, started to prioritise tournaments I really wanted to win, and really put a lot of mental energy and training and emphasis on winning those tournaments.

“And, you know, you can’t win every tournament season. Jahangir Khan could, but you know. If you do, that’s great but I really started focusing on winning tournaments that I wanted to win. And really targeting those tournaments, throughout the first time [British Open 2021] was obviously a different feeling. Second time, you know, I had a lot of pressure on me as defending champion, and World No.1 up for grabs.

“And, you know, that’s probably one of the proudest moments I’ve had to go through that tournament, defending it, defending World No.1, and playing the way I played, some of my best squash I played and like I said, that’s something I’m extremely proud of. And that tournament in particular, is really one of the highlights of my career performance.

“Obviously, you got the Commonwealth Games in the offseason, which has been a target for mine, especially this year and the years leading up to it. But you know, also this year, at the start of this year, you know, I targeted probably three tournaments and that’s definitely ones I really want to finish that tournament off well and you know, competing for New Zealand always gives me a buzz and I love the Commonwealth Games.

“And that’s something I’m really really looking forward to and targeting and it’s very important for myself and New Zealand as a country so that’s my next main goal.

“Every tournament you know, I’m trying to win to get back to World No.1, but I’m not trying to emphasise that so much because I think that just sort of creates a lot of unnecessary pressure. Obviously the World Champs is a huge target for me, that’s one I haven’t won yet and I’d also love the U.S. Open. Obviously British Open I’ve won, one of the most prestigious but you know sort of targeting those ones; World Champs, U.S. Open, I think would be very cool and very special for me to win

“There’s obviously the New Zealand Open too, we’ve got our first New Zealand Open in November and I’ll be absolutely frothing and up for that one and just looking forward to playing at home in front of some Kiwi fans and you know, hopefully the roof is erupting there.”

Join SQUASHTV and get closer to the PSA World Tour