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Joy for north squash star Greg Lobban as he breaks into world top 20

A great run to the Qatar Classic last eight shot the Highlander to 19th in the global rankings.

Greg Lobban is now a world top 20 player. Image: Craig Watson
Greg Lobban is now a world top 20 player. Image: Craig Watson

Inverness squash star Greg Lobban aims to keep going for glory after breaking into the sport’s world top 20.

The 31-year-old is the first Scot in 15 years to be ranked so highly. Not since the days of legends Peter Nicol and John White have Scotland had a player make such a breakthrough.

The now Edinburgh-based athlete, who won Commonwealth Games bronze with Rory Stewart in Birmingham last year, is riding on the crest of a wave.

He defeated world number seven seed Victor Crouin on the way to reaching the last eight of the Qatar Classic before losing to Joel Makin from Wales last week.

This week began with confirmation he’s now 19th in the world list – and he’s the first Scot to break into such company since legendaryΒ White was ranked 15th in 2008.

White is a former world number one, while Nicol earned multiple world and Commonwealth titles and Lobban knows it’s something he can be proud of.

First time reaching major last eight

Lobban felt good ahead of competing in Qatar and was thrilled to have made it to the latter stages, which earned him his 19th global spot.

He said: “It’s been a long time trying to break into the top 20. In squash, it is considered a big milestone.

“I came close in March 2021 to cracking it. I had been number 21 for around 10 months, so it is nice to tick that off the bucket list.

“There are eight major events throughout the year and Qatar is one where the best 48 players in the world are playing. It was the first time I’d managed to get to the quarter-finals in my career.

“It was a big result for me to beat the world number seven on the way through.

“I went into summer training feeling pretty good about things and the season started with the tournament in Qatar. I’m looking forward to kicking on from here.”

Perseverance pays off for north star

And Lobban says now he’s in his 30s he can take a little time to appreciate a success such as this one.

He said: “When I was younger, I was maybe looking straight on to the next challenge straight away, but at 31, I know there are a lot of lows in an athlete’s career, so I am going to enjoy reflecting on reaching the top 20.

“My next tournament is in a few weeks time, so I won’t be partying, but I can reflect on it. I have considered some of the losses,Β  but in a good way, and I know I never gave up at any stage. Perseverance paid off.

“I can go into training knowing I have now ticked off this goal. I am really enjoying my squash at the moment and hopefully I can continue to enjoy it for another few years.”

Others can follow Lobban’s success

Lobban says this global breakthrough coming a year after the Commonwealth Games medal can ideally inspire fellow Scottish players.

He added: “Last year’s achievement was really special because I got to share it with Rory. It was great to go through that process together rather than individually as we usually do.

“It is nice to see the rewards in such a tangible way. I am looking forward to keeping going and seeing what else I can achieve.

“It is also good for Scottish squash to have someone else in the top 20 for the first time in a long time. Hopefully there will be other guys not too far behind me.”

Greg Lobban and Rory Stewart, Commonwealth Games bronze-medalists. Photo by Jeff Holmes/JSHPIX/Shutterstock (13077340d)
Greg Lobban and Rory Stewart, Commonwealth Games bronze-medalists. Image: Jeff Holmes/ JSHPIX/ Shutterstock

Lobban back home for Scottish Open

Wednesday sees the start of the five-day Springfield Scottish Open in Lobban’s home venue of Inverness Tennis and Squash Club.

The men’s and women’s semi-finals will be shown on BBC Scotland over this weekend and Lobban aims to return home to take in some of the action, with locals Alasdair Prott and Martin Ross among the competitors.

He said: “I’d love to be playing it at my home club, but it’s not to be this year.

“Hopefully the status (of the competition) can be further raised in the next few years.

“It’s great my club is staging it. It has produced a lot of great players over the years, but over and above that, it has got really good people – it’s a great place to be around.

“As well as it being on the BBC, I hope to be make an appearance to see some of it over the weekend. Hopefully the Scots will still be there battling for the title.”