Local English hope Lewis Anderson will be gunning for glory when he competes in the prestigious Dunlop British Junior Open in Birmingham this week.
Solihull-based Anderson heads into the event in top form after claiming his maiden title at the British under-17 national title in October, which has seen him seeded for the under-17 category at the Dunlop British Junior Open.
The 16-year-old’s win also saw him become the first Warwickshire male in over three decades to taste success at the British Junior Championships.
“I hope to play the best squash I can at the BJO and ultimately I would love to win. But I realise that there is tough competition from other countries.”
“I played for England at the Junior European Championships in Prague, played in the finals in the English Championships in March and won the British Junior Championships in October.
“It made me realise that I can compete against the top players and beat them which has given me confidence since then.”
Anderson says it is the backing of two local coaches which has been the catalyst for his rise through the junior ranks.
He said: “Mike Edwards, the head coach at Edgbaston Priory, initially involved me as an eight-year-old junior to start playing for fun. He then coached me to start playing seriously and Mike Harris, the assistant head coach, became involved with my training around the age of 10.
“At 11 I felt that I had to choose between squash and football as I could not commit to both sports. Thankfully, squash won as I just love to play this fast-paced game.
“While other juniors then changed coaches and clubs I have remained loyal to both and I feel that it is now starting to pay off.”
Anderson is currently studying at Solihull Sixth Form College and recently returned from the US Squash Open where he finished in a credible seventh position.
“I am hoping to study at one of the Ivy League Universities and had discussions with various coaches while I was out there. It is great that the Commonwealth Games are coming to my local city in 2022 as it will be a great environment for me to see how the athletes at the top of the sporting game train, manage time and play. I am hopeful that squash will then become an Olympic Sport in the future.”
Lee Drew, England Squash national junior coach, said:
“Lewis has improved massively over the last six months. He is a deceptive player, likes to hold the ball and express himself on the court.”
Due to the size of the event, the tournament will be played over four venues between Wednesday and Sunday, with the finals being played at the University of Birmingham, which will host squash and hockey at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The other West Midlands venues will be the Edgbaston Priory Club (eight courts), Solihull Arden Club (four courts) and the West Warwickshire Club (three courts).