Reuben could make a real racquet
PUBLISHED: 16:12 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:46 24 August 2010
By Ian Cooper IF 2010 proves as successful as the last year for Harlesden teenager Reuben Phillips, the youngster touted as the Lewis Hamilton of squash will be a giant stride closer to his burning ambition. At just 17, Phillips has already taken on and
By Ian Cooper
IF 2010 proves as successful as the last year for Harlesden teenager Reuben Phillips, the youngster touted as the 'Lewis Hamilton of squash' will be a giant stride closer to his burning ambition.
At just 17, Phillips has already taken on and beaten some of Britain's best young squash players, winning both the Middlesex Junior Open and Closed events in recent months.
Already with a British Under-19 ranking of 20, he travels to Birmingham this weekend for the Edgbaston Priory Junior Open, ahead of his second British Open in January, the next steps in a journey the dedicated teenager is determined will end in European and world glory.
"The ultimate aim for any squash player is to be world number one, and that's my aim as well," said Phillips. "But in order for that to happen I have to put in a lot of hard work, so I treat every tournament the same because I always want to win.
"Winning tournaments like the Middlesex Junior Open is obviously the biggest achievement, but climbing up the ladder in the England rankings is also important, and I try and play the same way every single time.
"Over the years I've knuckled down and I'm getting to where I want to be, but I'm not there yet."
Phillips, who trains every day at Portobello Green Fitness Club in Ladbroke Grove, took up squash when he was 13 under the guidance of his father and coach Michael, and moved into the England rankings at under-15 level in 2006, placed 119.
And 2009 has proved a landmark year, as for the first time he was able to enter the British Junior Open in Sheffield after being invited to join the tournament at the last minute.
A walkover in the first round was followed by a narrow defeat to the England number two in the second round but, having surged further up the rankings, Phillips is established as one of the country's most exciting emerging talents.
And as the British Open moves onto the horizon once again, in Sheffield from January 2-6, Phillips admitted his brush with the world's finest has left him eager for more.
"Hopefully this year I should get past the second round, but it depends on the draw - it's where some of the best in the world play," he added.
"It's good to play against the world's best players because nobody in that tournament is weak, last year I was probably the weakest there. It's good experience to see the standard you have to get to.
"The next step is playing more European tournaments, like the Dutch Open, Belgian Open and Swiss Open so I can build my ranking points."
While Phillips believes his future success rests largely on funding and hard work, both he and the sport as a whole were dealt a blow when squash was omitted from both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
The move from the International Olympic Committee was met with anger from the World Squash Federation, and Phillips agrees that the decision must have a negative impact on young players.
"The Olympics should be the pinnacle of sport, and with sports like rugby, golf and football it's not the pinnacle to win a gold medal at the Olympics," he said.
"How many people can remember the winner of the football in the Olympics? They've got the World Cup, they don't need the Olympics as much as squash does.