squash star Adrian Waller is delighted to have been
awarded the wild card into the forthcoming the ISS Canary Wharf
The 20-year-old left-hander from Enfield faces a challenging
London derby clash in the first round with world No.7 Peter
Barker, who owns an apartment in Limehouse, just a short
stroll from the stylish East Wintergarden tournament venue.
At 6ft 3in, Waller is one of the tallest players on the world
tour and his phenomenal reach is certainly a major factor in his
rapid rise up the rankings.
He is anxious to repeat some recent successes in major
tournaments such as the US Open in Chicago and the
Tournament of Champions in New York, where he gained some
valuable glass-court experience against two world champions.
In Chicago, he battled his way through the qualifying
competition to face Egyptian superstar Ramy Ashour, and
in New York he beat No.11 seed Olli Tuominen from Finland
to clinch a dream meeting on the Grand Central Station
show-court with Australia’s four-time British Open winner
David Palmer, the reigning Canary Wharf champion.
said: “All of those matches were great experiences. Those
players are obviously more at home on the glass court but you
just have to get on there and do your best.
“Playing against Ramy was the draw I wanted after beating fellow
Londoner Joe Lee in the qualifying final. I wanted to go out
there and put across my game and see how I fared. It is hard to
put these guys under pressure. Ramy is so quick, both in the way
he moves and the way he plays. You just have to hang in there
and enjoy it – and hopefully learn from the experience.”
New York was a major career highlight for Waller. He said: “I
knew that Olli Tuominen likes to play a hard, fast game so I
went on court with a tactical game plan to try to slow things
down and keep him out of his comfort zone if I could.
“It is always difficult to play someone who keeps the pace high
so I was trying to get the ball to fade away in the back
corners. He might have thought playing a qualifier would be easy
but I surprised him by going two games up. He upped the pace to
draw level but I managed too hold it together in the fifth game
to win the tiebreak 14-12.
“I was lucky to enjoy a rest day before I played David Palmer.
That helped so much. Playing someone who has been in the world
top ten for so long, I wanted to be 100 per cent ready rather
than feeling stiff from the previous day’s match and maybe
feeling only 60 per cent when you go on court.
“Palmer is very strong, a very tough competitor who plays the
same way from the first rally to the last. You have really got
to hit top form to trouble someone like him.”
Waller lost to Ashour and Palmer in straight games but he is
hoping to do better when he faces Barker in the first round at
Canary Wharf on Tuesday March 23.
He added: “The big difference in my approach now is that I want
to go on court and win matches rather than just go out and have
a bit of fun. I need to produce more structured play against
“I was at 64 in the February PSA rankings and I am hoping to
keep rising steadily throughout the year. My first goal is to
get into the top 50. If I do that then I will reassess things
and then target the top 40 and then the top 30.
“As a younger player you have to fight your way through some
brutal and unforgiving qualifying tournaments so to be given the
wild card for Canary Wharf is a real honour. It is a great venue
and I have heard a lot of players talk about the tournament in
glowing terms so I am delighted to be given the opportunity to
show what I can do on the glass court.”
Waller, whose father Ray is squash chairman at the Hazelwood
Club in north London, will be guaranteed plenty of support
when he faces fellow left-hander Barker. He said: “It will be
great to get some support against Peter. He has done so well to
get to where he is in the rankings and this will be the first
time I have played against him in any tournament.
“I have trained with him several times and so I know his game
very well. I do like the way he plays. He is very solid and so I
hope I can find my form early in the match.”
Waller trains at Potters Bar with England Squash national coach
Paul Carter – who faces a quandary at Canary Wharf as he
also coaches Barker.
Waller has also absorbed plenty of wise words from former world
champion Peter Nicol, who is one of the promoters of the
ISS Canary Wharf Classic.
added: “Peter has taken some of the training sessions in the
national programme and it is great just to hear his views and
learn from his experiences in the game.
“He has been at the top for so long and you learn a lot from
people like him. He always insists on putting down some basic
work first so that as you build a pyramid effect with your game
the foundation is always very strong. He is also very good at
helping you to develop your confidence.
“Certainly over the past 12 months I have got a lot fitter and
stronger to cope with the enormous physical demands of the world
“At the higher level the top players will always find a weakness
in your game – maybe in your movement – and they are ruthless in
the way they expose it.
“I train with Paul Carter several times a week and he always
insists on a high level of fitness. I feel like I am gaining
some momentum in my career and that is paying off with some good
“Hopefully I can collect another one at Canary Wharf.”
for Sport Relief