Irish squash star aims to start 2018 on a high

Ireland squash star Denis Gilevskiy is aiming grasp more experience at the prestigious Dunlop British Junior Open as he continues his bid to make headlines in the sport.

Last year Gilevskiy, 13, overcame England’s Sam Osborne-Wylde in the under-13 event to become Ireland’s first ever British Junior Open (BJO) champion. This week he steps up to the under-15 category.

The Co Wicklow schoolboy will be one of 650 players competing at the Dunlop British Junior Open, 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.

He said: “My main hope for BJO 2018 is to compare my current standard to the top juniors around the world and to get used to new venues and location of the tournament since it moved to Birmingham from Sheffield for the first time.

“I just turned 13 half a year ago, so there’s no expectation to finish high in the under-15 group as I will be one of youngest players there, but hope to get valuable experience to compete for top positions in the same age group in 2019.

“Winning the BJO last year perhaps didn’t add much to my confidence, but I was very happy to see how much attention it brought to squash in Ireland.

This season, Gilevskiy returned to number one in the European Squash rankings in the boys under-15 age group after transitioning from under-13 and winning four international tournaments in a row in this age group: the Nordic, Belgian, Irish and Swiss junior opens. 

He trains at Mount Pleasant LTC and plays Leinster senior league for the club, as well as training at  Westwood and Fitzwilliam clubs in Dublin. His main coach is Dublin-based Angus Kirkland, a former professional top 20 player who is also director general of the European Hockey Federation.

“Angus played a major role in my BJO win last year,” added Gilevskiy. “Even while he was not there , he always gave me a phone call with prep talk before each game. Other coaches who helped me a lot to achieve and progress in squash are Ed Dunne and Hadrian Stiff. There are many other junior and senior squash players in Ireland who are my training and playing partners, I’m really grateful to all the help I get from them to develop.

Gilevskiy says he wants to turn professional one day but only after gaining a University degree first. He first started squash aged six and loves the sport “because it is a good composite of both physical and mental strength  and lets me skip school more often due to multiple tournaments.”

His mother, Elena, said: “We are really proud of Denis’s achievements so far. Certainly it is too early to think about his prospects of becoming a professional squash player, but we hope he will always enjoy his time on court. 

“We really hope that squash continues to develop in Ireland, and that we can get a glass court near us. We really hope that Squash made in Olympics and Denis will represent Ireland in this event.”

Dunlop is a proud sponsor of the British Junior Open and Official Ball Partner of England Squash.

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