Paul Coll has come along way in his pro squash career. The Kiwi is New Zealand’s top male squash player and has enjoyed a pretty great 2016/2017 season, making it to Number 12 in the world rankings — a career high for the pro player. He has been starting to finally reap the rewards after spending years honing his skills and gift for the game of squash.

Paul Coll (left) with England's Nick Matthew at the Canary Wharf Classic

Paul Coll (left) with England’s Nick Matthew at the Canary Wharf Classic

Coll is only 25-years-old and was raised on the West Coast of NZ (and went to live in Canterbury later as a teen). During the 2016/2017 season, Coll received his largest payday yet since he turned pro in 2011 — he pocketed $21,978 NZD ($16,000 USD) after winning the title for the St George’s Hill Classic in Surrey, England.

While this doesn’t sound like a fortune compared to some of the Kiwi athletes playing football (soccer) or rugby, for Paul Coll, this is a pretty big deal. This is because this 25-year-old went a long way to earn everything he has achieved — farther than most players, in fact.

Humble beginnings

Humble beginnings

During his early days on the circuit, Paul had to battle his way into main draws of tournaments and was often left wondering where his next paycheck would come from. Coll stated that there have definitely been “some really tough times where I’ve phoned mum back home and said ‘I need some help. I’m really down.’”

Paul recalls when he even had to sleep on other people’s couches a number of times when things didn’t go as planned — “It’s definitely been a hard road,” and this is one of the reasons why we are writing a spotlight article on this Kiwi — if you are dreaming of playing pro, don’t give up — even those you look up to have slept on couches and battled their way into the global rankings.

Coll impressed the sports world with his flexibility and athletics on the court

Coll impressed the sports world with his flexibility and athletics on the court

Coll is now based in the Netherlands, where he lives and trains. He is one of the most improved squash players known in squash over the past few years — his skills and gameplay have improved significantly and has been noticed by the PSA. Soaring from Number 116th in the world in January 2013, to just outside of the Top 10 in the 2016/2017 season, Paul Coll made a significantly leap in his abilities.

CollChi

Even more incredible is that only three other men from New Zealand have achieved a higher squash ranking:

  • Ross Norman reached No.2 when he historically beat Pakistan’s Jahangir Khan in the 1986 World Open final.
  • Stuart Davenport reached No.3
  • Bruce Brownlee reached No.6

There is a misconception regarding squash players, in that some fans believe they make the of money that footballers, golfers, or tennis players make. Squash is a bit different in that you earn when you win — and are compensated well when you are winning — however, times can get hard if you find yourself towards the bottom of the rankings.

There is also more of a jet-setting lifestyle that even footballers don’t experience. While football players have a “home” stadium, squash as well as tennis and golf, involve making one’s living while traveling around the world to events and competitions.

From the dozens of locations most popular for squash tournaments and events, Coll cites two of them as the highlights of his career thus far:

  • Playing in the glass court next to Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza
  • New York Grand Central Station’s makeshift squash court
Paul Coll, NZ

Paul Coll, NZ

In August of 2017, Coll plans on heading to the Peninsula Shanghai Hotel in China, while is features a rooftop court that overlook’s the city’s towering skyscrapers — we imagine the air is going to be a bit thin up there, but playing on a court like that will be an incredible experience.

With the Kiwi’s victory at St George’s Hill Classic and his improved results over the last few years, New Zealand’s Paul Coll has really become a serious contender on the court. And now, due to his hard work, he is much more financially stable from well-earned prize money.

Paul Coll plays a backhand during his semi-final against England's Nick Matthew at March's Canary Wharf Classic in London

His rise to the Top 20 has been a huge ambition of his, and New Year’s Day of 2016/2017 saw this dream come true — what does he have his sights on now? Coll now dreams of becoming the first Kiwi male squash player to reach the coveted No.1 position in the world rankings.

Along with taking the St George’s Hill Classic title, Coll has earned other PSA tour wins at the:

  • London Open
  • Paris Open
  • Australian Day Challenge
  • Northern Territory Open

…since the start of 2015. He even teamed up with No.1 women’s Kiwi Joelle King to claim the world doubles title last August.

Channel VAS Champion

Channel VAS Champion

Who does Paul credit to his improvements over the past few years? Coll credits much of it by being based at the Meer club in Hoofddorp, which is outside of Amsterdam. Along with coach Tommy berden and access to elite opposition to play with, great training facilities, and a range of tournaments in Europe, Coll improved through old-school hard world on the court and gym.

It will be exciting to see what Coll accomplishes in the upcoming 2017/2018 PSA season. One thing is for sure — this Kiwi will not be sleeping on any more couches.

Paul Coll returns a shot during last year's New Zealand Classic in Palmerston North

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