A Week In the Life of a Squash Professional – Cameron Pilley (world ranked 20)

Professional squash player Cameron Pilley from Australia and ranked number 20 in the world came to Hong Kong to compete in the Hong Kong Squash Open in August.  Cameron has been a professional for more than a decade, basing himself in The Hague (Netherlands) and has won thirteen titles in his career – he is also known as the man with the hardest shot in squash, having caned a squash ball to the mighty speed of 175 miles per hour. Cameron spent a week’s accommodation with squash section member Brian MacDougall during his trip, and was generous enough to compose a short diary of his week’s stay in Hong Kong.


Cameron Pilley wins Gold at the Commonwealth Games

 I came to Hong Kong on a high – having represented Australia in the Commonwealth Games and had an amazing two weeks in Glasgow, capped with two medals – a gold medal for winning the Men’s Doubles with David Palmer, and a bronze medal in the Mixed Doubles with Kasey Brown. Practice had been going well then. I spent my time training at both the tournament venue and also the HKFC. It's been great to get some nice warm weather because the Netherlands has been terrible lately!

Brian MacDougall was an amazing host to me and my girlfriend Line (who played in the women's event). He was even kind enough to let me beat him on the odd occasion at pool. Most days consisted of a nice sleep-in, breakfast, morning training session and sometimes an afternoon session also. I also regularly used the local buses –so I feel like I know the ins and outs of the city.

Brian_MacDougall_with_Cameron_Pilley.jpgBrian MacDougall with Cameron Pilley

I often get asked about my match preparation in terms of my diet: on match day I will usually have either cereal, toast, eggs, fruit or a combination of them all (and always a coffee or two - speaking of coffee, Brian made a mean cup of Joe, or at least his machine does!). Lunch on a match day will be fairly basic – possibly a bowl of pasta, or a sandwich or rice with some meat for protein. Barbecued pork and rice was the choice this time.

So my preparation in the lead-up to the Hong Kong Open felt good and I always feel comfortable playing here. Being ranked number 20, I went straight into the main draw and didn’t have to play until the Tuesday. However, I had a tough draw up against Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland – we had often trained together but never actually competed against each other, and we are of a similar ranking (Nicky is ranked 21). However, I suffered a disappointing loss in the first round to Nicky and wasn’t the kind of start I was looking for even though Nicky was very sharp, and I went down 8-11, 4-11, 5-11 in 43 minutes. The come-down from the high of playing the Commonwealth Games and winning a Gold medal has been a learning curve – this has hit my motivation levels more than anything and the standard of my squash has suffered.


Cameron in action with Nicky Mueller in the HK Open

I took a day off to recover and get my mind right. The following day I was back on the horse and practising again, getting ready for my next event in Shanghai, the China Open. The hospitality of the HKFC was great and everyone is so welcoming. It's not only a great club to train/eat/hang out at but the members just love their squash! All in all it was another fun trip to HK and I'm already looking forward to heading out this way again next year.

I'd like to extend a special thanks to Brian MacDougall who accommodated me and my girlfriend for the entire week we were there - though he better be ready for my improved pool skills next time! 

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