All-Star Cast for Gloucestershire County Closed Tournament at East Glos

Squash star Nathan Lake is coming home this weekend to play in the annual Gloucestershire County Closed tournament. The globetrotting professional will be one of the star turns at this year’s event which takes place at the East Glos Club, the club where the Cheltenham-born 25-year-old has played a lot of his squash. The action kicks off on Friday and runs through to finals day on Sunday and while top 50 world-ranked player Lake is the biggest name in the draw he is by no means the only leading player taking part. That’s because one of the players the number one seed will be up against is Stroud-born Jonny Harford, who has been a fairly regular player on the professional circuit over a number of years. He is also the squash professional at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse. Mark Broekman, from Cheltenham, is another professional to have thrown his hat in the ring and Dan Heaton, a Gloucestershire Squash committee member and one of the driving forces behind this year’s tournament, said: “It’s great to have the professionals taking part, it’s the first time for a number of years.” And this year’s tournament certainly has all the makings of being a very good one. For the first time in many years there will be a ladies’ tournament and among those taking part are Haley Mendez, the American who is ranked in the world’s top 45, and Julianne Courtice, who is ranked 47 in the world and originally played her squash at Riverside in Gloucester. There is also a tournament for over-45s and Heaton added: “There are well over double the number of entries that we had last year. We have more than 60 entries this year which is pretty good progress and a step in the right direction for local squash. “This has also been enhanced by the welcome entries of many talented juniors across the county. “We would like to see the tournament build year on year as well as retain the attraction of the pros.” Growing the event is very important for Gloucestershire Squash and not just because it is a flagship tournament. They are very keen to promote all that is good about squash, a sport that features prominently at this year’s Commonwealth Games. “The bigger picture is to really push our schools programme in Gloucestershire and our coaching initiatives,” added Heaton, 34, who will also be playing in the Gloucestershire Closed. “The main aim is to grow squash participation – like the good old days! – and even help get our Olympic bid back on track.”

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