IT’S official, Forster’s Todd Riches is number one. The Great Lakes College student topped the Australian squash rankings for 15-year-old men, which are calculated four times a year by Squash Australia, in February and now has his sights set on keeping it when the next round of rankings are released in May.
“I’ve been number one in NSW before but this is the first time I’ve ever topped the national rankings so I’m pretty happy,” Riches said.
The number one ranking is reward for consistent performances over state and national competitions, particularly four national ranking tournaments held throughout the year.
“I go everywhere, I’ve been to just about every capital city in Australia, Alice Springs there’s a lot of travel involved, I even went to Malaysia last year.”
Riches won two of four games at last year’s junior world championships in Malaysia and is keen to test himself again in the international arena.
“It was pretty big step up, for some of the countries you compete against squash is their national sport. You face some really tough opposition so to win two games from four I was pretty happy with that.”
With lofty goals in mind Riches dedicates himself to his craft at least five days a week at Forster Squash Centre, where he began his career as an 11-year-old, and in competitions against grown men.
“I play in the opens normally and, they play a pretty different style which can be awkward so I try to rely on my speed and fitness to get me through.”
When he’s not competing he spends weekends in camp in Sydney with an elite squad under coach Aaron Frankcomb, a former world ranked player.
“I train out of the Sydney Academy of Sport at Willoughby. It’s pretty tough, lots of core work and short sprints with cardio. It can be a tricky game, unlike tennis the ball doesn’t bounce straight away you have to warm it up so it requires a different sort of hand eye coordination.”
The next step for Riches is the upcoming Australian Junior Open at the end of this month, where he will compete above his age in the under 17s division.
“I’ll be stepping up in age so I’m aiming to go top five.”
Long-term Riches says he would like to represent Australia at the Olympics in 2020 when he will be 22 and, if all goes to plan, at his peak.
“It (squash) is being considered in the next round to be included in the 2020 games so I would like to have a go at that, but it’s a long way off. The first step I’m aiming for is to get into the squash program at the AIS and then go from there.”