Squash star courting success

Bradley Smith with John Gibson and children from Anderton Primary School

Bradley Smith with John Gibson and children from Anderton Primary School

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A CHORLEY teenage squash ace went back to school to pass on some of his skills.

Bradley Smith, 17, has just been selected to represent England at next year’s Under-19 World Junior Squash Championships.

The former St Michaels High pupil is looking to turn professional when he turns 18, but first he joined in a session where he first picked up the sport at Anderton Primary School.

John Gibson recalled the moment he first met Bradley at the school in 2004.

He said: “Minisquash is aimed at five to 11-year-olds and has been designed to be appealing and marketable to young children.

“The children had never held a squash racket before, but so many showed tremendous ability.

“One of the children, Bradley, caught my eye.

“He was hooked, he went home, asked his mother if she would ring me and enquire when he could go to the Junior Squash and Racketball Club which I run at Leyland Leisure Centre.

“He attended a few minisquash sessions and it was quite obvious to me he had great potential so I coached him for the next six months or so.

“I then decided to ring Brian Pearson, one of our top national coaches, and ask whether he could coach him.

“Since 2008 he has been coached by Danny Massaro, the husband of Laura Massaro, who is ranked No.4 in the world.

“In January 2009, Bradley reached the quarter-finals of the British Junior Open Squash Championships in Sheffield, the biggest junior squash tournament in the world, aged just 12.

“He beat the No.3 and 5 seeds from England, and only lost to the No.1 seed from Egypt in the quarter-finals.”

Bradley is now at Runshaw College but went back to chat to some of the kids at an assembly at Anderton.

Louise Minton, headteacher at Anderton Primary, said: “It is wonderful news to hear that Bradley is doing so well. At our school Bradley was always an unassuming young man, but he always knew where he wanted to go, and what he wanted to do. I am so proud of him. And to think it all started here at Anderton Primary School with a Minisquash Taster Day.”