Scotland’s Greg Lobban produced one of his best seasons to date on the PSA World Tour in 2019/20 before professional squash was brought to an abrupt halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, we caught up with him to get his thoughts on his season to date and coping with training in lockdown.
The last year has seen the World No.22 lift his biggest title to date in September at the Hong Kong Football Club and beat two top 10 players, most notably former World Champion and World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad, and currently sits at his highest ranking to date.
And Lobban said he is pleased with the improvements he’s shown this season and believes it shows he can only go higher when the tour is able to resume.
“I'm very happy with my season overall,” said 27-year-old Lobban.
“I picked up my biggest title to date in September at the Hong Kong Football Club 30k and also got two top 10 wins under my belt which I've never done before, so I think these are good indicators that I'm improving each season and that's encouraging.
“I've tried to put less emphasis on my ranking in the last 12 months. It's very easy to get too sucked into the numbers and everyone's average each month and that can affect my training or my preparation leading into tournaments, so I'm just trying to go about my business each season and seeing where it takes me.
“I'm very proud of being a consistent part of the top 30 now and I would have taken that a few years ago. However, with every jump I take each season, I want more from the next one so I'm not willing to put a number on it, but I believe I can go higher.”
Along with his victory at the HKFC Open, Lobban also secured another title at the Cleveland Skating Club Open when he defeated France’s Victor Crouin in the final and the Scottish No.1 is pleased to have been able to tick off his targets that he set for himself at the start of the season.
“I did set myself two goals at the start of the season and I'm happy to have achieved them both, it doesn’t always work out like that.
One was to win my biggest title: which I achieved by winning HKFC and beat a top 10 player: beating Saurav Ghosal, at the Macau Open, who was No.10 at the time and then Karim Gawad No.4 at the Canary Wharf Classic.
Greg Lobban pictured with Annie Au and the HKFC trophies
“The stage I'm at in my career I want to be playing the biggest events and I want to be challenging the very best in the world every tournament but realistically that has resulted in first, second or a couple of third round exits each season which can become a bit demoralising mentally.
“I set a target to myself that in the 2019/20 season I wanted to win my biggest PSA title with my previous best being a 15k tournament in 2017. There's a different atmosphere around playing in the final of a tournament no matter what size it is, so it was nice to be back in those types of matches and to win in HKFC 30k and Cleveland 20k was great.”
One of Lobban’s best performances of the season came during the last event before the tour was frozen at the St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic in London where he defeated Egypt’s Mazen Hesham before securing a huge upset over World No.3 Karim Abdel Gawad and Lobban said it ranks as the best win of his career.
“That was an unbelievable week for me. Beating Mazen Hesham and then following that up against Karim Abdel Gawad was the best win of my career.
Lobban in action against Karim Abdel Gawad at the Canary Wharf Classic
“It's such a good event there and I felt comfortable with the tournament being so close to home, I love playing overseas as well but there's nothing like having some home comforts and home support.”
Life looks slightly different for squash players at the moment with the majority of athletes subjected to lockdown and forced to try different training routines from home and for Lobban, he has been trying to come up with different ways to train along with wife and fellow player, Donna Lobban.
“The country is in lockdown pretty much, so I'm mostly restricted to the house. It's an uncertain time for everyone and it's undoubtedly going to be a difficult period for us athletes but I'm just trying to make the best out of the situation with what I've got at the moment.
“Myself and Donna have been coming up with some fun training sessions at home and we are trying to take it day by day, who knows when we will be back on the squash court but it's going to feel good when that time comes.
“If I’m not playing squash then I'll be reading about or watching another sport probably. I also enjoy getting out into the Peak District with Donna on our days off, it's only a 20-minute drive from our apartment in Sheffield now so to get out there away from the everyday routine can be very relaxing, especially on a nice day.
“I'm a big fair weather golfer as well! I enjoy getting out on the course in summer and trying to get my handicap lower each year.”