R1: Declan 3-0 Joe

Declan James (ENG) 3-0 [WC] Joe Lee (ENG)  13-11, 11-4, 11-7 (53m)

What a pleasure to see Joe Lee back on court. I always enjoyed his calm but strong presence of court, and it’s nice to see him as positive and proactive as he was, with a little plus that comes when you think you never will play squash again…

First game was 24m of hard work, with superb rallies, and Declan looking good at 10/6. Followed a winner from Joe, and four unforced errors, that took us to game ball Joe. A stroke for Declan took care of that, and a few nerves/going for too much two errors gave the game to the higher ranked player 13/11.

Second game, a bit of match fitness lacking for the St George’s favourite, 11/4 in 11m (still hard work). But a good push from Joe, enjoying his second wind, being very aggressive and taking the game to his opponent at the start of the game.

1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, and 5/6. Very close up to there but Declan went a bit faster, pushing his opponent in the four corners, and it’s 10/5 match ball. Again, good effort from Joe, who will only bow 11/7. He will be happy, and Dad promoter/MC Danny will be rightly proud….


It was good fun! I knew getting into it that everything had to be pretty perfect considering where I am at. But I think I played pretty well today, although I’m not where I want to be yet.

It’s nice to see the things I changed and what I worked on getting implanted into my game, as it’s a different thing to train on a few things and then perform on the glass court with all eyes onto you.

As for the injury, it’s been two and a half years… first year was a step forward a step back, trying to avoid surgery. Then after a year, we realise it was actually the best route to go. Then it took two surgeries with the same surgeon… After that, my body was wasted away so I needed to get strong and healthy again. and it’s only in the last 6 months that I actually focused on my squash and performance.

I was coaching quite a lot, but now I have reduced it dramatically to only one day, and for the rest of the year, I’ll be playing a few league matches and satellites. But next year, I’ll try to play PSA again, first in England, then trying to go for Europe – not travelling too far away, so no Hong Kong in the first year!!!….


It’s all about small percentages, I have worked a lot on the mental side and the intensity. I try to make sure that I’m not having patches in matches where I’m wavering for two or three rallies, that’s what happened in the Worlds, against the top-level players like Simon Rosner – just 80-90% good quality and then one or two points in each game where you have that mental dip and they take advantage.

It doesn’t matter that Joe has had time out, I saw him play on this court in the Surrey Cup about a month ago and it was a 3-2 so I have huge respect for Joe. Today, I knew that anything less than my best or 100% mental concentration then he would lap it up because it’s his home court and there is no pressure on him. I put pressure on myself and I expect a lot from myself so I’m very happy to win a match like this and be intense for the whole time. It was very hard, even though it was 3-0.