Canada’s former World No.23 Samantha Cornett has announced her decision to retire from the PSA World Tour following an esteemed career which saw her lift 13 PSA titles and enjoy success for her country.
Cornett reached 21 finals and claimed 13 PSA titles throughout her career on the tour, which started in 2007. She also claimed an impressive medal haul at the 2011 Pan American Games with gold and silver medals in the team event and singles event, respectively, adding to these at both the 2015 and 2019 Games.
We caught up with the four-time Canadian National Champion post-retirement, to discuss her decision to stop playing on the tour and her future plans.
“This was a big decision for me, as it is for all athletes, and anyone changing careers, for that matter,” said Cornett.
“A lot of things happened at the same time. My dad passed, which really shook me and made me rethink where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing. It's hard to know the answer to that when squash is your life and your one goal and dream. I knew I wanted to be closer to home and near my family, but I wasn't sure what that meant for tournaments. I tried being home more and doing less long distance travelling to events, but it still wasn't quite right. I did some career counselling, volunteering and job shadowing. Around the same time, I was starting to feel less inclined to the very tough training and traveling required to be a committed athlete.
“When I stopped yearning to improve after losses, I knew it was time for me to make a change. I'm glad I had laid some groundwork for life after squash. It made me feel more confident in this transition and my choices. Squash University is a big part of that groundwork.
“My highlights throughout my career have been many. I am so grateful for the whole journey. An outlet to try to be the best I could be. Some squash highlights for me are the Windy City Open 2017, the Pan Am Games in Mexico in 2011 and in Toronto in 2015, the World Open 2014, and the 2019 JC Women's Open, a 10k at my club in Ottawa named after my dad.”
Cornett plans now she has concluded playing squash is to finish her two-year diploma and become a recreation professional and the Canadian insisted that the workshops the PSA Foundation provide to players on the Tour has been helpful in her making her next steps.
“Next up for me is finishing this two-year diploma and getting into the workforce working with older adults as a recreation professional. More school might be on the horizon too. Hopefully I can keep fitting in squash, right now that's through coaching so that I have income during school. They compliment each other well.
“The PSA University is a great initiative. It's important for players to at least consider what's next. It was very valuable to me; it made me feel more free on court knowing that squash wasn't everything about me, albeit a huge part! PSA and [PSA Foundatioon Manager] Adriana set up lots of opportunities for us to gather information and learn about ourselves.
“Two PSA Uni highlights for me were the investment session with Gillen, and the personality assessment with Hogan. We have a similar transition preparation and resource program in Canada for athletes called GamePlan, and the combination of learning from both was a winner for me.”
The 29-year-old also insisted she is proud to see how much the sport has grown throughout her career and is looking forward to what the future holds for the PSA World Tour.
“Not only the tour has grown, but the quality of the events and the quality and amount of coverage has grown. I am really proud to be a squash player, and I was a part of the tour during a really special period.
“The number of events increased, the prize money increased, SquashTV came around and becomes more and more impressive as time goes on. Other than some incredible locations, one of the highlights was the $1,000,000 World Championship in Chicago. I hope when that when the tour resumes, the PSA can continue the momentum from events such as this and continue to engage all of us fans of the sport around the world.
“I’ll miss competing so hard that I felt sick from exhaustion, giggles at 7am training sessions, travelling around the world with friends and family. And, of course, all of the amazing billets I've had the chance to get to know! The squash community is amazing. There are so many people to thank for such an extremely memorable time in my life. I am very grateful to the sport for bringing me to so many amazing people and places.”