Despite being the age of 37, England’s Daryl Selby has shown time and time again that he can still fight with the best players in the world, and he continued that during the 2019-2020 campaign.
The Englishman, who reached as high as World No.9 at the peak of his career, has just dropped outside the top 25 in the World Rankings as it stands, but he brought his best squash to the biggest stages last season, despite not putting in too much work.
“To be honest, I’m not training too much anymore so to still be able to perform and beat top players and reach the last eight of a Platinum event is pleasing,” he explained.
“I tended to play my best squash in the big events which is always nice but I would have like to have performed a bit better in the smaller events that I played.”
The biggest and best of those performances came at the CIB Egyptian Squash Open, held in front of the majestic Pyramids of Giza in Cairo.
At the Platinum level tournament, Selby received a bye through to the second round, before then overcoming strong challenges from Hong Kong’s Max Lee and countryman Chris Simpson.
He attributes the success, partly due to feeling fresher after securing the bye from his ranking, along with the incentive of playing in front of the Pyramids themselves.
“I think being a top 16 seed for that one helped and so being straight into the second round meant I was fresh,” Selby admitted.
Selby (fore) in action against Ali Farag at the Pyramids
“I actually played one of my best matches of the season to beat Chris Simpson (who played exceptionally the day before to beat Abouelghar) in what I felt was a high quality match.
“The incentive to get through to play in front of the Pyramids was massive as well as I’d never played there before.”
Selby also showed his class in other events during the season, most notably at the Troilus Gold Canada Cup, and the St’ James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic, a favourite of the Englishman’s.
The 37-year-old took a somewhat surprising victory over Welsh No.1 Joel Makin, before giving it everything against the reigning World Champion Tarek Momen. Unfortunately for Selby, and the capacity crowd at East Wintergarden in London, the home favourite narrowly missed out on the win.
In Toronto, the Englishman made it through to the quarter-finals after a solid victory over India’s Ramit Tandon, before falling to New Zealand’s World No.5 Paul Coll in the last eight.
“I loved every second as always at Canary Wharf! Still a bit gutted I didn’t manage to sneak the win but a pleasure to play the current World Champion on that great court. The crowd is always brilliant there, we need more events like that,” Selby said.
“I also enjoyed Toronto, it’s a great city and felt like I had a good win against Ramit [Tandon] who is a very talented player. Paul [Coll] was too strong on a traditional court in the quarters.”
On the international stage, Selby was team captain as England finished runners-up to the favourites Egypt at the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championships in Washington, D.C.
Selby celebrating a win for England at the Men's World Team Championships
They overcame Wales, Nigeria and Canada in the group stages, before then getting the better of the No.4 seeds New Zealand in the quarter-finals, and No.3 seeds France in the semis.
Selby had a 100% record from his three matches in the tournament, and although England were unable to secure the title at Squash on Fire in December, he has fond memories of both the event, and his international career as a whole.
“I will always look back fondly on my England career and the World Team Championships have been at the top of my highest and lowest moments in the sport,” he admitted.
“That particular week was amazing, we had a great team with a brilliant team spirit. England are known for momentous individual performances within a team environment and watching Declan [James], Adrian [Waller] and James [Willstrop] perform the way they did will always stay with me.
“To beat the French in the semi-finals and to then push the Egyptians close in the final was a phenomenal effort.”
Selby’s goal for the 2019-2020 season was to stay in top 20 of the World Rankings, but unfortunately, an illness that saw him miss the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions mean that he fell out of that bracket. As always, though, you know the Englishman loves to go for the spectacular when he is on court!
“I just wanted to stay in the top 20 for as long as possible but unfortunately illness in New York meant dropping down was out of my hands in January,” he explained.
“I really wanted to try and keep my level high and push the top guys for as long as possible and also get some entries in for Shot of the Month/Year!”