TAME Valley’s Lewis Doughty has broken into the world’s top 200 squash players.
The 28-year-old, who competes for the Greenfield club in the North West Counties Squash League, is hoping his elevation will open new opportunities.
“I should be able to creep into bigger competitions which have £10,000 prize pots. That will hopefully help me get more ranking points if I get through a couple of rounds and get even higher,” explained Lewis, who is ranked 187.
Lewis, who has been full-time for the last four years, trains Monday to Friday each week at Pontefract under renowned coach Malcolm Willstrop, who helped his son James and Lee Beachill achieve world number one rankings.
Malcolm also trains Tame Valley’s Sam Todd, 15, who is regarded as the best player in the world at his age.
Lewis is also coached by Jamie Maddox at Tame Valley where he is the club’s number one in their North West Counties Squash League’s first division campaign.
He said: “Last year we had a full-time professional Evan Williams who was in the top 100 in the world.
“This season he hasn’t returned and I am number one, a big step up. I have had a few matches against players in the top 100 and, though I have not won, there has been a couple of close matches.
“I fancy my chances against any player ranked 150 to 200 but those higher are established players.
“Realistically in the foreseeable future, within this year, I can get to 150. And from there hopefully I can kick on towards the top 100 which would be a big achievement and get me almost to the top tier of tournaments, though not make me eligible for the world championships.”
Lewis, whose late grandfather Jack was the renowned Shaw boxing trainer and promoter, competes overseas to maintain his world ranking as there are a lot of sizeable events in the USA and Canada.
“I usually have one tournament each month and recently went to Calgary and Tennessee,” he explained.
With only modest prize money, Lewis admitted it is a challenge financially, but it is something he must do to progress his career.
Lewis said: “Accommodation and food is usually provided by tournament sponsors, but I have to pay for flights.
“You need financial help and I am lucky my dad helps me out. There is a little prize money and I also do some coaching which earns me a further sum.”
Lewis, who also plays for Bologna in the Italian League and Pontefract in the Yorkshire League, added the world’s top 20 players earn a decent living from the sport but it is tough for the rest who scrape by.
He began playing aged 10 in home-town Bury and was a successful junior but said he never had any intention of being a professional.
Lewis stopped playing aged 17 and only resumed to play seriously while working in Australia where he went after graduating.
“I was on a gap year and got into squash again and I unexpectedly kicked on. I was lucky I got in with the right people.”
• Anybody wanting to sponsor Lewis can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org