At Challenge Trophies we like to support emerging sportsmen and women. We’ve recently sponsored a young up and coming Squash player Neal Brooker. He’s broken into the World’s Top 400 players and is trying to make it on the professional circuit. Here’s his story so far:
In September 2012 I began my career as a full time professional squash player, competing in tournaments in the United Kingdom, progressing onto international stage. I am currently on the Professional Squash Association World Tour, with a current world ranking of 370. In comparison to other professional players on the World Tour, I am fairly new to the sport having only participated seriously since I was 16 years old. Prior to playing squash, I competed in a number of sports including; football, golf and cricket. Between the ages of 16 – 18 I was introduced to squash and played recreationally at Cheam Squash Club. As my interest grew I decided to trial for the Surrey Junior Squad, where I was subsequently offered a place. The county squad was my first opportunity to compete against the best players at my age in the county. I spent one season in the squad, where I was ranked in the top 15. The county squad gave me an excellent indication of performance levels required to be at the top of the sport.
Post A-Levels, I gained place at the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff to study Sports Development. I was extremely driven throughout my undergraduate programme achieving a First Class Honours Degree. It was at university where my passion for squash really developed under the guidance of the Head Coach, Greg Dainty. I was the No.1 ranked played at the university, representing them in Welsh Premier League against world ranked players. It was at that moment, I knew I wanted purse a career in professional squash, which brings us to the present day.
So what does a professional squash player do on a weekly basis? Generally, six days a week will be spent training, consisting of two sessions per day in preparation for tournaments. The types of sessions include: squad sessions, solo practice, strength and conditioning and technique sessions. In addition to these, players will also compete in national and international leagues. I am coached by Ben Ford an experienced coach and player at Bexley Squash Club in Kent. I complete the strength and conditioning sessions at Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing in Cheam. I also compete in the premier division of three leagues: Surrey, Sussex and Middlesex, gaining valuable match experience and hopefully starting to compete for trophies!
Recently I competed in the Racketnation.com Tour – St. George’s Hill Open 2012 which is a PSA World Tour Event. Focused training had taken place for around 6 weeks in preparation for this event and I felt good in the build-up. Unfortunately, a few days before the event I came down with a cold, however determined not to let my training go to waste I competed regardless. I had been drawn against Taminder Gata-Aura a talented young squash player from Bradford, who has recently returned from Qatar competing for England in the World Junior Championships. It was a competitive game, with both players displaying some nice squash. As the match progressed Taminder took advantage of my physical inabilities with some excellent controlled squash and won the match in clinical fashion 11/7 11/7 11/8. Overall, my performance was good in the circumstances; however I am determined to work harder for my next tournament which is The Lee-On-Solent Classic in late November.
Being a professional squash player is hard work; physically, mentally and financially. In terms of the latter I would like to thank my sponsors for supporting my career as a professional squash player, Harrow Sports (Racket Sponsor), Challenge Trophies, The American Way Restaurant and Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing.
We’ll have more updates from Neal to see how he pogresses!