Highland squash star Greg Lobban hopes the tutelage of former world number one Nick Matthew can push him into the world top 20.
Lobban has moved his training base from Edinburgh to Matthew’s Hallamshire Tennis and Squash Club in Sheffield and he hopes to benefit from the three-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist.
The Inverness-born right-hander achieved his career-best ranking of 30 in May this year, on the back of making the semi-finals of the men’s doubles at Gold Coast 2018 alongside fellow Highlander Alan Clyne.
He feels the move down to England will improve his game and Matthew, who retired at the end of last season, can prove an ideal mentor for the talented 26-year-old.
Lobban said: “I’d been in Edinburgh for eight years and the opportunity to work with Nick and his team down here came up, so I jumped at it. To push on to that next stage, I identified moving my training base and it’s been a really good transition. He’s very attentive and there’s a genuine interest to help. He wants us all to do well, which I’ve found really positive.
“He’s recognised that I’m a top-30 player already and I’ve got to that standard without these means. But he has a real eye for detail and knows what I have to do better to break into the top 20, or even the top 10, where I want to be. He’s got a lot of titles to his name and is a former number one, so has been there and done that.”
As well as Matthew, Lobban has been working with England’s high performance coach Neil Guirey, who works at Hallamshire. Lobban, from North Kessock, stressed that his move did not change his availability for Scotland and he still takes great pride in donning the blue jersey.
He added: “I still very much want to play for Scotland and help them in any way possible. If I improve myself, that’s only going to improve the team. They’re always around for support and while it’s strange being away, it’s always going to be home.”
The fourth place at the Games in April was a hard one to take for the Scottish pair, losing out to the Australian duo they beat in the final of the World Doubles Championship in 2016, Zac Alexander and David Palmer. It was Lobban’s second Commonwealths, after making his debut at Glasgow 2014.
Lobban said: “I was very disappointed with the Commonwealths. It was something I had built up for a long time and to not get a medal was disappointing. Fourth is the worst position to finish. It was an amazing experience being in a semi-final but gutting to lose out. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with on the squash circuit.
“People say it’s theh hardest lessons you learn the most from but at the same time, I would have benefited more and grown in confidence more if we had won. But now I have been in that situation and experienced competing with that much pressure, it will feel easier next time.”