Nick Matthew column: I want to put down a marker for future generations

Nick Matthew, winning the National Championships for a seventh time in Manchester.Picturet: squashpics.com
Nick Matthew, winning the National Championships for a seventh time in Manchester.Picturet: squashpics.com

You can never take anything for granted in sport.

In the build-up to the National Championships in Manchester last week, everybody was talking about how some of the top players, such as James Willstrop, Peter Barker and Adrian Grant were injured. People almost wanted to hand me the trophy before the tournament had even started and that can be very dangerous. It is never that simple and things can change very quickly in sport.

I had to play really well to win my seventh National title. I saved my best squash for the final against Daryl Selby, winning 11-5, 11-3, 11-2 at the National Squash Centre on Sunday. Daryl’s never beaten so I had to keep going even at 8-1 up in the final game I had to block out my emotion and stay focused.

Daryl has been ranked in the top 10 in the world and beaten me from two games down in the past. He normally gets better as the match goes on so it was nice to finish it strongly.

It was a fun weekend in Manchester as I broke a few records. I surpassed Cassie Jackman’s previous record of six National wins and reached a record number of finals in a row.

Cassie is a former world champion. We shared the same coach and I remember watching her train and play when I was growing up so it means a lot to me to break the record. She inspired me so much.

When you get to my age, you take any win that you can get. When you start clocking up a good number of titles in an event, you do feel you are leaving a bit of a marker for future generations to aim at. That’s what does inspire me to push the extra yard but, at the same time, you have to block it out because you start thinking about the wrong things at the wrong time if you are not careful.

I’ve enjoyed having a few days off following back-to-back tournaments. I fly out to Chicago on Sunday and it’s a real tough balance between getting it right with the freshness and the sharpness.

You have to allow yourself to comeback down to earth following an event, take confidence from it and build yourself back up again. You have to go back to basics and start each week with a clean slate.

After you’ve had a win, you always want to keep that momentum going but you don’t want to hit a brick wall two months later. The challenge facing me at the moment is conserving my energy during a busy period.