Lancashire's female squash star Charlie Mccrone has been praised for her enthusiasm for the sport as she gets set to make her debut at the prestigious British Junior Open in Birmingham on Wednesday.
The 10-year-old from Chorley will be one of 220 English players and 650 overall competing at the biggest event in junior world squash, which features over 30 nations up to under-19 level.
Due to the size of the event, the tournament will be played over four venues in Birmingham between January 3-7, with the finals being played at the 500-capacity University of Birmingham.
This will be the first year in the event’s illustrious history that the under-11 category has been added to the programme, while third-seeded Charlie has already been recognised at national junior level.
Lee Drew, England Squash’s national junior coach, said: "She is so enthusiastic. She is always so smiley and just loves being on court and listens well. She enthuses you because of her love of the game.”
Charlie, who attends St Catherine's primary school in Leyland, said: “I hope to perform the best that I can and learn from playing other top players from all around the world. I'm pleased to be part of this amazing opportunity, it's just great for younger girls like me to take part in such a big competition."
It has been quite a few years for the Lancashire youngster ever since becoming the region’s No 1 under-11 player aged just eight. Within a couple of months she also won the North West regional title.
In June 2016 Charlie came fourth in the under 11's English Championships and this year became national champion without dropping a game.
“It was overwhelming and took a while to sink in, and it was then I realised all the hard work, discipline and sacrifice was worth it," she said.
Last January Charlie represented Lancashire in the under-15's category in the inter county championships. Incredibly, she won all three of her matches, coming back in two matches from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
In November Charlie was then invited to attend an EDP camp (England Squash Development Programme) in Manchester for the weekend with other aspiring juniors from across the country.
She is currently ranked No 7 in the country in the under-13's category – despite being only 10 – and heads into the British Junior Open seeded third behind two Egyptians, currently the dominant force in world squash.
Charlie, who first started playing aged five, has rubbed shoulders with two of England’s greatest players as she bids to follow in their footsteps and reach the top of the world game, including Lancashire star Laura Massaro.
"There is no question that my two heroes are Nick Mathew and Laura, because they are both so determined and hard working and this is what I want to want to do. Two years ago I went to watch Nick and after he came second I went to congratulate him and it was then he gave me his runner up trophy.
“Laura is also an amazing role model because of what she has achieved, winning the Worlds and being ranked the No 1 in the world. I would love to be part of the world tour, it has been my dream to be a professional ever since winning my first Lancashire title in 2015. It gave me a feeling like fire in my belly and a hunger to improve.”
Her father, Christian, said: “As parents, my wife and I believe that Charlie has not only developed a passion for sport through squash, but has also developed as a young person, gaining lots of new friends nationwide, and has learnt lots of life long skills which will hold her in good stead as she continues on her journey in the junior squash leagues.”