Eighteen years ago, a young Alan Clyne travelled to Pakistan as the fourth player from four in Scotland’s team to compete at the Men’s World Team Squash Championships.
Fast forward to this week, and the 37 year-old ten time Scottish national champion, has been named in the squad of four to travel to the same event, taking place in Tauranga, New Zealand from 11th December.
Reflecting on his first experience of the event, Alan said: “That was such a long time ago, and there’s no way that I thought I would still be playing now.
“It was such a crazy experience, security were on guard and everywhere you went you had to have a police escort.
“They put me in for the first match against Pakistan, then I supported for the rest of the matches, I learned so much from the experience.”
In the years since, Alan has been ever-present in the Scotland team for the event, competing in seven editions in total.
The positive memories are too many to list, but a 3-2 defeat to Canadian great Jonathon Power stands out as one of the best learning experiences of Clyne’s career.
Having played alongside twelve different players across those events, Alan is uniquely placed to comment on the strength of the team.
He said: “We’ve got a strong team this year, maybe as strong as it has been with Greg (Lobban) in the top 20 and Rory (Stewart) playing great squash and getting wins over players in the top 20.
“Obviously Alasdair (Prott) is coming up too, and he has been playing some great squash recently, so it’s exciting to see, and on paper we’ve got a very good team.”
The last three editions of the competition have seen Scotland finishing in the top 10, from 9th in 2013, 8th in 2017 and a high of 7th in Washington DC four years ago.
With three of the four players from 2019 playing this year, the team will be setting their sights high – but how high?
Alan said: “I don’t think we’ve set a specific target yet, a lot of it will depend on who we play and there’s no draw out yet.
“England and Egypt are going to be the two strongest teams, but outside of those it becomes any team can beat anyone so it’s going to be close.
“There are going to be a lot of close matches, a lot of big matches, and if we can get it right on the day we can definitely beat that finish from four years ago.”
Having retired from professional squash in October 2022, the Inverness born squash star is now coaching at the prestigious Princeton University in New Jersey, USA.
That has led to a different style of preparation, with competitive matches replaced by practice matches and tough training sessions to stay in shape.
Regardless of the preparation, the end goal is the same, Alan explains: “As soon as I was told I was getting I selected, I definitely had that focus and determination to make sure that I’m ready from the first game, and that’s where I plan to be.”
When squash fans think of the Scotland team, Alan Clyne is likely to be the first name that comes to mind.
He has starred in World Teams Championships, World Doubles Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Teams Championships for close to two decades.
As he makes the transition to coaching, many will wonder if the championship in New Zealand will be the last time they see Alan Clyne in the blue kit of Scotland.
When that question is put to him, he responds: “I thought the Europeans was going to be my last time playing for Scotland, I thought the Commonwealth Games before that was going to be my last time…
“You never know what can happen – I still enjoy it, and if I’m still useful for Scotland then there is potential for me to keep playing, but it’s hard to predict the future.”
The 2023 WSF Men’s World Team Championships will take place in Tauranga, New Zealand from 11th December to 17th December. Click here for everything you need to know about the event.