There has been a gradual rise up the rankings for Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas, who has gone from outside the top 400 in the world to inside the top 60 in the space of four years.
The Mexican now sits at World No.57 after a wonderful 2019/20 campaign, which saw him named as the inaugural PSA Challenger Tour Male Player of the Year, as voted for by fans.
He had two tournament wins over the course of the season, but his consistency was the key to his improvement in the World Rankings, as he made the semi-finals of eight of the nine tournaments he entered since September.
The first of those victories came at the APM Kelowna Open in Canada, where he dropped just two games all week to take the title, the 7th of his professional career.
“After three tournaments that I had reached the semis, in this tournament I found the rhythm and control and managed to obtain the first title of the 2019/20 season,” Cardenas explained.
“I was happy with this title and it gave me a lot of confidence for the following tournaments.”
He would not have to wait so long for the second success of the campaign, which came just a month later at the Securian Open in St. Paul in the United States. Again, he was in control throughout, only dropping a single game in the event.
Cardenas (fore) in action at the Oregon Open earlier this year
“I was very happy with that victory because I got the results after hard workouts. I was better on my shots and was better with the movements on the court. I felt more experienced,” the Mexican said.
Thanks to those victories, and his consistent performances throughout the term, Cardenas was rewarded with the inaugural PSA Challenger Tour Male Player of the Year award.
He was thrilled to receive the award, and hopes that it could inspire the younger generation of Mexican to pick up a racquet and take up the game.
“I am very happy with this award because it is a reward for the work I have done in the last three years. This award is also for my country, for my team, for my family,” he explained.
“I also hope that the generations that come from my country feel motivated to play squash.”
Alongside Cesar and Arturo Salazar, Alfredo Avila, Jesus Camacho and Mario Yanez, Cardenas is one of six Mexcians inside the top 100 of the World Rankings.
Since receiving the PSA Challenger Tour Male Player of the Year award, Cardenas has spoke to the media in his native Mexico, and he is looking ahead to the start of the new season.
“This award has motivated me a lot to stay focused on my workouts,” he explained.
“I have also had some interviews for the award and I feel happy promoting squash in Mexico and motivating children to play it.”