The young squash champion, Lewis Anderson talks beating his dad on the court aged 10, winning his first national title and dreams of a US scholarship
Talented teenager Lewis Anderson is taking the squash world by storm after becoming the first Warwickshire man in 32 years to claim a national title in the sport. He was crowned Under 17 British junior champion after first beating the number one seed and then winning a five-set thriller in the final.
Lewis has trained at Edgbaston Priory Club since he was eight-years-old and showed promise from the get-go. Having tried a bit of tennis, Lewis was walking round the club with his grandad when he spotted a group of kids playing squash at club night and thought it looked cool.
He jumped at the chance to join in and it wasn’t long before he began one-to-one sessions with coach Mike Edmunds who he still has a close relationship with today. Mike chatted to Lewis’s parents to say he had a good eye for the ball and asked if he’d like to play more. Competitions followed, none more fierce than with his triathlete dad! Lewis said: “Whoever won got 50p. Dad always won initially but once I got to 10, I started winning every match!”
Lewis took part in his first proper tournament in Manchester in 2011 where he took third place. At club championships at the Priory in the same year he came second. Regional and county success followed and at just 11, Lewis was on course for the national team. As happy with a football at his feet as with a racquet in his hand, there came a point aged 13 when Lewis had to choose between that and squash. “It was a tough one but I chose squash because I thought I had far more potential,” he recalls.
Lewis had a run of good results following that decision including runner-up in the England finals, as well as being picked for the national team. He won a county tournament and a silver level event which is just one step below the gold events such as junior British championships.
Now with the national squad in Manchester as well as in Edgbaston with coach Mike Harris at the Priory, Lewis is training five or six times a week except in the run-up to a competition when he has a ‘light week’. Teaming that tremendous level of commitment with his studies is a juggling act, but Lewis seems to handle the pressure well. He said: “I had a tournament in Prague two days before my first GCSE exam which wasn’t ideal, but it was a great experience.”
Lewis is unusual in the sport because he doesn’t stick to a set way of playing. He likes to mix his game up a bit which is risky, but it’s working so far. He explained: “I love how creative I can be. Most players have a set way to play, but I like to change my game and be creative in matches which is different to most of my opponents.”
The junior British championships title was a joy for Lewis if not hard work! He admitted he had to “muster every ounce of concentration” to power through the nail-biting five-setter and come out on top to beat Scotland’s Alisdair Prott.
Clearly Lewis is on track for a glittering squash career and is looking forward to moving up to the Under 19 category, but he knows the value of a good education too. He said: “I’d like to keep as many avenues open as possible. University in America on a squash scholarship would be the dream. That way I can study for a degree while playing. In the US it’s encouraged in a way that it’s not at home.”
Lewis also has a bit of sound advice for youngsters taking up sport too. “Enjoy it and don’t commit too soon.”