Hong Kong players told to show ‘quiet arrogance’ for November Squash Open
Former England coach Robertson wants his players to be less reserved as they take part in the annual tournament
Hong Kong’s new squash coach wants his players to show “quiet arrogance” after the draw for the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open was made on Wednesday.
Former men’s world number two Chris Robertson has taken the reins in his new role for just two months, but has already mapped out the blueprints to help get Hong Kong squash back on track in time for the Open, which starts on November 12 at various venues.
Robertson, 51, brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience, having spent almost seven years as England coach. The Australian was also head of player development there before taking up the Hong Kong job.
“Quiet arrogance. That’s what I like to see. Hong Kong players are quite quiet, reserved in some regards, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be arrogant beneath,” said Robertson at Wednesday’s draw.
“I’ve got a long term plan in terms of how I’d like the players to play; how to improve the areas which I think show up a bit against international class players,” said the 1992 British Open runner up.
“The players are different, but I do have a framework for Annie [Au Wing-chi], Leo [Au Chun-ming], Max [Lee Ho-yin], Joey [Chan Ho-ling] and Ling [Liu Tsz-ling]. Ultimately, you don’t get extra points for the way you play; you get them for winning.”
Leo Au is familiar with winning, having clinched the HKFC PSA International Squash Open earlier this month. The 27-year-old will go into the Open as a wild card. He faces a severe test against Egypt’s three-time and defending champion Ramy Ashour in the first round.
“It’s going to be tough. I’ve never played him, but it’s a difficult one for the first round,” admitted the world number 34.
“We’re going in 0-0, so you never know. It has been a busy few months in terms of tournaments, but I look forward to being back in Hong Kong.”
Au’s older sister, world number 10 Annie Au Wing-chi, will face a qualifier, but is projected to face Malaysia legend Nicol David in the second round.
“Qualifiers can be good and bad. I still don’t know who my opponent will be, so all I can do is train and take it game by game,” said the 28-year-old.
Unfortunately, the Au siblings and most of the Hong Kong players face tough draws early on, denting chances of reaching the latter stages of the tournament.
Coach Robertson insists his players should not dwell on it too much, however.
“That’s the nature of draws – it could have been kinder, but you have to take it on the chin. There shouldn’t be any feeling of pressure of winning because they have nothing to lose. There should be pressure on performing and doing yourself justice on the court.
“It’s just unfortunate from a Hong Kong perspective that we didn’t have a few more draws that might feel they didn’t have such a high mountain to climb. But there are plenty of events in between [now and November], so we don’t want to get too fixated yet.”
Robertson will travel with his new team to tournaments in the United States, Malaysia and Qatar before returning to the city. He will certainly be trying to implement his philosophies ahead of the difficult fixtures in November.
“The opponent is just a name – granted, there are a couple of formidable names in this event – but we need to get a culture that starts to see it like that.