11 Points with Richie Fallows



Interview by ALAN THATCHER

Richie Fallows is looking forward to appearing at the East Wintergarden for the first time in his career when he plays Josh Masters in the Wild Card Challenge on Finals Night (March 15).

The former national and European junior champion lives in Stratford, just a few stops away from Canary Wharf on the London Underground. Here he tells Alan Thatcher how much the tournament means to him.

Q1: Richie, it’s great to see you finally gracing the glass court at the East Wintergarden. As a local lad, what does this mean to you?

It’s been a long time coming. The first live matches I ever saw were at Canary Wharf. I literally grew up watching these amazing players and I have always wanted a chance to play there. Over the years I have got to know a lot of people who go there so this means so much.

I can honestly say that the reason I became a squash player was because of Canary Wharf. Watching those players in that amazing venue made my mind up: That’s what I want to do.

Q2: As a spectator at several of the events, what matches stand out for you?

Watching guys like Nick Matthew and James Willstrop. They became heroes of mine and their two-hour battle at Canary Wharf in 2010 was one of the best matches I have ever seen.

Two things stuck with me, firstly the intense quality of play from them both throughout the match, and the respect at the end when Nick refused to take the win when James injured himself.

I also remember another great all-England match when Peter Barker beat Nick for the first time.

Q3: Where is your main training base these days?

A: I am part of the England Squash Southern Hub, training with guys like Daryl Selby, Adrian Waller and Ben Coleman. The sessions are taken by Paul Carter and Adam Fuller. I am over there three days a week and it’s a great environment to work in. Sometimes I have a second session in the gym at St Albans on the way home.

Q4: How long did the Manchester experiment (sharing a house with other players) last?

I lived there for two years and enjoyed being up there. It was a new experience, being away from home and looking after yourself. The training environment was great but for me I felt I needed more individual support. We are all different people and we all need different things.

Q5: You had an excellent win in Cleveland in October, beating Scotland’s Alan Clyne in the semi-finals and Canada’s Shawn Delierre in the final. That week must have given your confidence a huge boost.

That was the first time I managed to put some good wins together. In the past I had always got a good win and then lost the next match. I was pleased with the title. I played Dimitri Steinmann of Switzerland in the quarter-finals and won a tight 3-2 (12-10 in the fifth).

That sharpened me up for the match against Alan Clyne. I played well and then found myself up against Shawn in the final. I just focused on the things I am good at and was pleased to get through it.

Q6: What are the main positives you gained from winning that tournament?

The main thing was that I surprised myself by how mentally I stayed on it during the whole week. I took it one game at a time and I was really switched on. Now, when I play tournaments I try to get in the same frame of mind.

Q7: You had another excellent triumph last year in the Welsh Open in Cardiff, beating George Parker in the semi-finals and top seed Peter Creed in the final. I am guessing the home crowd might have been heavily on Peter’s side. How did you cope with that?

Funnily enough, the noise from the crowd helped me. I had a tough game with George before and that kind of helped me. Against Peter, I knew that every point I won would keep the crowd quiet and I stuck at it.

Q8: At the ripe old age of 23, and ranked 57 in the world, what are your targets for the rest of 2019?

I really don’t like setting targets. My target for England Squash is to reach 45 in the world before too long. Personally, different things happen in your life and as a long as I am trying to improve myself every day that is my target.

Q9: You are playing the Wild Card Challenge against Josh Masters at Canary Wharf. How’s your record against Josh down the years?

We haven’t played each other for ages. I think the last time we played was in a Graded tournament at Canterbury which I won. Before that we used to meet up a lot as juniors. Josh used to beat me at the start but then I started beating him a bit more. He worked hard and got fitter and we should have a good close match at Canary Wharf. We train together with the England Academy in Nottingham.

Q10: I am hearing lots of good things from various tournaments that you are a much calmer person these days. What do you put that down to?

It’s all about growing up. When people are paying to watch you play they don’t want to see any unnecessary stuff on court. I just realised it was time to just concentrate on other issues. The game is too hard to play without filling your head with rubbish.

Q11: Please give a shout out to your sponsors. Who are they?

I want to say a big thank you to Tecnifibre. They look after me really well. And England Squash, of course, for their support down the years. I have a new association with Nick Taylor’s Infinitum Academy in Boston, USA. I had some time between two recent tournaments in Detroit and Pittsburgh and I spent a few days with Nick and his lovely family in Boston. It was nice to see the club, with such fantastic facilities, and it was good to get some input from an experienced guy like Nicky T.

Many thanks, Richie. And good luck against Josh.