“2014 has been one of the best years of my career” – Professional Squash player, Alison Waters shares her Glasgow Commonwealth Games experience and explains why 2014 has been a game changing year for herself and the sport of Squash.
Alison Waters has been playing professional squash for over a decade. But 2014 is likely to be the year she’ll never forget; Winning Silver and Bronze in front of sell out crowds at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Followed by podium topping success for England at the World Team Championships in Canada. And then what better way to finish the year, than defeating the World Champion in her penultimate match of the season. So the question is, what’s changed for Alison to make 2014 so successful?
“I’ve been professional for last 12 years, and I think you figure it out what works for you, what doesn’t work. Mentally I feel much happier in myself, which has made a big difference. The level I’m at now, a lot of it is the mental side of the game, physically everyone is strong, so it comes down to on the day and who can handle the pressure”
“I believed I could have a good season. I have beaten the top players in the world before, so there’s no reason on my day why I can’t do that. A lot of it was down to confidence and belief, and if you have that, you go on court and you’re not afraid to play anyone”
The Commonwealth Games is the highlight of the Squash calendar. Alison missed out on a medal at previous Games in 2006 and 2010, so reaching the podium in Glasgow was a career high for the 30 year old. But it was made even more special by the public reaction to squash over those two weeks
“It was amazing! Sold out, massive crowds. It wasn’t even as if they were all squash fans, but they just appreciated both players and when we walked out they gave us massive cheers. And that carried on for the whole time”
“Every match had an electric atmosphere and think it came across really well to the general public. People who didn’t know much about squash were picking up on it and watching it on the T.V. It really was massive for the game. England Squash came away with nine medals, which I think is our biggest medal haul.”
Since the incredible summer of sport in Glasgow, Squash has continued to move forward with the positive momentum. Alison is currently playing in the Tournament of Champions (TOC) out in America where, for the first time, there is equal prize money for men and women. This will also be the case at the National Squash Championships in February, along with many other tournaments throughout the year. Alison believes that it’s the increase in coverage and recognition of the sport that has allowed squash to be a leading example of equality, and puts itself in a strong position for future development.
“We have just signed a new deal with BT Sport to broadcast our major tournaments, semi-final and finals live on BT Sport. So for squash that’s amazing, because its not an Olympic sport so it can really help us and get us into the public eye more”
“The introduction of Glass courts, has made it a more spectator friendly sport, and the public can appreciate that it’s quite a hard sport that requires all round fitness. It’s a physically demanding sport, but on the otherside it’s like a game of chess. And I thihk that appeals to people; whenever I say I’m a squash player to people, they say you must be incredibly fit.”
Squash is yet to become an Olympic sport, but is still in the running to be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic programme, which is expected to be announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later on this year.
“I’m not sure what else we need to do to show that we should be in the Olympics, everyone involved in squash remains positive and one day, hopefully in 2020 we can get in to it where we deserve.”
“I’ll be 36 and I will definitely hang on. In squash, when you get to 36/37 it depends how your body holds up. If we get into the Olympics, and I was fine and got selected then I would definitely play. It’s doesn’t get much bigger than an Olympics.”
Did you know…
- Alison started playing squash when she was 5 years old
- Her Sporting Role Models are Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Kelly Holmes
- The goal for 2015 is to raise her ranking to number 2 in the World
- Away from squash, Alison enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with family and going out for dinner