Walton's Richards ready to rock O2
Walton squash professional Tom Richards hoped finishing the season inside the world’s top 20 would be the launchpad for a place in the top 10.
The 25-year-old enjoyed the biggest win of his career at the Open de Squash Banque Nationale Groupe Financier in Montreal in March and followed that up with a runners-up spot at the Berkshire Open in the United States a month later.
Richards, who helped St George’s Hill Squash Club to a second successive UK Premier League Squash final spot earlier this month, is the world number 15 ahead of the British Open at London’s O2 Arena in 10 days.
He was ranked 25th in the world at the start of the season, and should remain in the top 20 no matter how he does at the Open.
And Richards has targeted more when the new campaign kicks-off in August.
“It was my first win in two or three years and is probably the biggest of my career. My previous tournament wins have been in lower ranked events,” he said.
“I had to beat four really good players to do it, so it was a great win for me.
“The people ranked below me have a lot of points to make up now, so whatever happens at the O2 I should stay in the top 20.
“That is a good position to be in at the end of the year.
“Then I can I push on from there. I’ve had a good season and made real progress. I feel I’m ready to break into the top 10 now.”
Richards will face Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee in the opening round at the British Open, who he has beaten three times in the past.
Should be beat the man he lost to in the first round of the Macua Open last year, it will set-up a meeting with world No 1 and England team-mate Nick Matthew.
But first it is the European Team Championships with England this week and he was confident he could approach his O2 debut in good form.
“We are the favourites for the Europeans,” he added.
“I’ll be mainly playing the games where the tie is won as our number one players need the rest.
“Hopefully, that will keep everyone fresh to win the final, where I hope we beat the French.
“I’ve never been to the O2 before. It is a great tournament and hasn’t been held in London for a while, so it is good to be an event so close to home.
“They’ve done a lot to make the event more glamourous and it is a tournament that deserves a stage like that.
“Hopefully, I can get a bit of revenge and set up a second round tie with Nick.
“It will be tough, but I feel I should be competing against guys like him and I’m confident of pushing him.”