Heriot-Watt history makers set for first ever BUCS finals

Heriot-Watt’s men’s squash stars will make history tomorrow as the first sports team in the university’s history to appear in the British University and College Sports (BUCS) Championship Finals.

The squad will head down to Loughborough tomorrow with a chance of being crowned national champions at BUCS Big Wednesday – the culmination of the year’s top academic sporting action.

Competing against the UK’s top university sides, after navigating a tricky group stage, the Heriot-Watt team has beaten Aberdeen University, Loughborough and most recently, top seeds and defending champions UWE in knockout matches to reach the final.

With a team made up of squash scholars, the Edinburgh side boast a strong squad of top players.

Included in the team is Scottish number one Greg Lobban, Andrew Glen, Anoopp Nithiyanandam, Connor Hayes, Finlay Halton, James Taylor and Tino Mackay Palacios.

Tomorrow’s final against a strong University of Birmingham team – featuring former world number 22 Moustafa Elsirty and young Scot Rory Richmond – will provide a stern test.

Head Coach Donna Lobban said: “The guys have been putting in so much hard work this year, and they’ve been getting better and better.

“Playing in the Championship Finals is huge for the squash team and huge for the university – there’s a real buzz about the team and the sports union at the moment – everyone is behind the team.”

The University team have been making waves in the Scottish National League as well this season, with both the men’s and women’s teams currently topping the tables.

With a mixture of experienced heads and first year students, the opportunity to play squash regularly and compete at a high level has been welcomed by the players involved.

First year student, Australian Connor Hayes secured the crucial points against UWE that took the team to the finals.

He said: “This might be the biggest team event that I’ll have played in, and it’s going to be really fun – I’m really excited about it.

“Playing here this year has helped with having regular sessions, great training and support with strength and conditioning to reduce injuries.

“Hopefully we can end the week as National Champions.”

Ben Graham, Sports Union Coordinator at Heriot-Watt University said: “For years we’ve been extremely proud of the great achievements of our male and female squash athletes at Heriot-Watt, working so closely with the Scottish Squash set up previously to now thriving in their own Scholarship Programme with additional investment and support from Oriam and the University to make us a destination for top level squash players to thrive alongside their academic endeavours.

“The programme is spear-headed by Donna who has had such great success since she came in two years ago. We’ve seen development at the top of the ladder all the way through to thriving beginners and recreational activity, so making it further than we’ve been before in BUCS is a great way to cap off a really exciting year for Squash here on campus.

“We follow the team down with every hope they can come back with some silverware, but also really enjoy the experience of representing their university alongside their peers at the top of their sport as a lifelong memory.”