Paul Coll: Looking Ahead to the British

Paul Coll made history at the 2022 Allam British Open as he became the first male New Zealander ever to win the iconic tournament.

Since then, ‘Superman’ has gone from strength to strength and has risen to World No.1 and claimed a second major PSA title at the Windy City Open in March.

We caught up with the Kiwi to discuss his epic title success in Hull last year.

Q: Paul, the British Open was your first PSA Platinum title, are you able to talk us through your memories of the event?

PC: It was a really good feeling at this event last year, it was the first time I’d seen my coach for 18 months post-COVID. It was almost like the first tournament outside of COVID that that felt normal for me in terms of preparation and support, and I felt really good going into it, it was one of those weeks where everything just falls your way.

It felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong, everything went my way, so it was a great week for me with a lot of support in the crowd. It was a dream week for me really, it’s one of those weeks that don’t come around often, where everything’s just clicking and you’re feeling like a million dollars.

It was something that really kickstarted my year and the back end of my season, so I’ve got fond memories.

Q: You came into the event having not beaten Mohamed ElShorbagy in four matches, you hadn’t beaten Ali Farag in 13 matches but you overcame both of them – what was different that week do you think?

PC: I was doing a lot of mental work, I was sort of struggling during the pandemic, just with the enjoyment of squash and a combination of everything. I went and saw [coach] Rob [Owen] the week before, who I hadn’t seen in 18 months.

To get on court with him pre-British Open was fantastic, it sharpened me up and helped me out mentally as well. Everything just sort of clicked at the time. It was perfect.

It’s hard to explain when you’re in those zones, you don’t really know what has caused it, but it’s like nothing can get you out of it [the zone] as well.

Q: You became the first male New Zealander to win the British Open – how special is that?

PC: It was obviously very cool. Because I’ve grown up with Susan [Devoy] who won it eight times, I thought we’d always won quite a few of them.

I didn’t really think about it too much until afterwards, because like I said, I thought we’d won heaps with the legend Susan winning eight times. It sort of wasn’t new to me, it wasn’t something I was thinking about just because of that factor, really. But obviously, it’s very cool, I’m stoked with it.

Q: Since then, you’ve beaten Ali multiple times, you’ve now won your second major title at the Windy City Open and gone to No.1 – how important was that British Open win for what has followed?

PC: It was always more of a confidence thing, just to believe that you can do it. I didn’t really feel like I had to beat them [Farag and ElShorbagy].

Obviously, I wanted to beat them. But they were the two best and I was always looking to chase them down.

When you get those two wins, and in the final as well at such a prestigious event, that gives you a lot of confidence that you can perform on the big stage. I think that was it, it was more of a confidence thing to me, rather than relieving pressure or anything like that.

It was more of just a reassurance of the fact that what I’m doing works and that we’re on the right path.

Q: Did you do anything to celebrate that evening?

PC: It was quite nice because my coach was there, and one of my sponsors and manager was there. So we actually drove back to Rob’s house and had a few very expensive bottles of red wine until 5am in the morning.

They were nice company, they were people who have helped me out with my career. There were only about four of us, but it was great to have just a small group of people that are close to me.

Get your tickets for the Allam British Open here.