Moray professional squash player and ex-Gordonstoun pupil Fergus Richards is relishing a return north to Inverness for next year's Springfield Scottish Squash Open
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THE Springfield Scottish Squash Open is coming to Inverness, meaning a return trip north for former Gordonstoun pupil Fergus Richards.
Richards (24) played in the Highlands and Islands Squash Association (HISA) league for his school and trained in his junior years at Inverness Tennis and Squash Club, the venue for next year's national tournament.
Now a professional squash player based at Scotland's national performance centre at Orium, Edinburgh, he was back at his family home in Elgin during the lockdown period.
He is relishing the opportunity to head up to Inverness for his country's flagship squash competition, which is held between August 25 and 29.
"I have a great love for the club," he said. "I spent a lot of my time as a junior travelling from the family home in Elgin to train there with the likes of Greg Lobban who I really admire.
"To bring the event to Inverness will feel like a home tournament for me and hopefully I manage to make the draw and get a good run.
"My mum would be delighted because she wants to see me playing more squash and hopefully I can give her that."
Richards has endured a frustrating 2019-20 season due to illness and the sporting shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but is now back in Edinburgh training hard.
He missed the first five months of the season after contracting glandular fever last summer before the season was cut short in March.
“I only really played a third of the season so it definitely felt frustrating,” he said.
"I was beginning to find some good form towards the back end of the season and it was disappointing that I couldn't take advantage of that when the season finished early.
“I spent lockdown in Elgin and used the time away from court to reflect on what I can do to make myself better."
He thanked his former Moray school at Gordonstoun for loaning him some equipment during lockdown, and he built himself a small garage gym to keep him in shape.
"It's been good to get into Oriam for training and I feel re-invigorated.
"And I'm very clear with what I need to do once we're able to get back playing competitively."
Richards believes Inverness deserves recognition for the success Scottish squash has had over the last 15 years.
"Since Alan Clyne (from Inverness) got the number one ranking in Scotland, it's been an Inverness player that's been up at the top with Greg (Lobban) now number one and playing so well on the PSA Tour.
"Alasdair Prott is another real talent who's just starting his professional career so there's lots of squash links with Inverness.
"Having the Springfield Scottish Squash Open up in the Highlands will be great for the area and hopefully can attract some kids to join the club because it's a great set-up there.
"I'm sure they'll host a fantastic event and it's testament to all the hard work that goes on at the club."
Inverness hosted the Scottish Masters Squash Championships in both 2018 and 2019.
Before that they played host to a professional squash tournament in 2014 prior to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In 2019 Springfield Properties partnered with Scottish Squash and the Professional Squash Association to bring back the Scottish Open after an 18-year break.
Richards is sponsored by Springfield Properties and he says the support they are giving him and the sport in Scotland is vital.
"With their support I've been able to follow a dream to be a professional athlete, something not many people get to do. It’s made the world of difference to me.”
For further information on the 2021 Springfield Scottish Squash Open, visit www.scottishsquashopen.com.