With Andy Murray's bid to build on his wonderful 2012 now under way at the Australian Open another racket-wielding Scottish No.1 has similar aims as his season starts in similarly glamorous surroundings this week.

That, at least, is Alan Clyne's hope as Scotland's leading squash player enters qualifying today for the Tournament of Champions in New York.

"It is one of my favourite events because it's played in Grand Central Station," said the 26-year-old from Inverness. "They put up a court in the Vanderbilt Hall in the station. I've played on that court twice and I'm the top seed so, hopefully, I'll get through and get on to the show court."

Loading article content

From New York, it is on to Detroit and then Chicago for Clyne who did well last year and is now looking to build on that. "I was 27th in the world rankings last season which is the highest I've been," he said. "It wasn't a massive jump from the previous year when I was 33rd, but it's hard to make big jumps in the rankings."

Naturally, that's important, but all the more so for Clyne right now because, with squash still battling to gain a place in the Olympics, next year will provide him with his best chance to compete in a high-profile international team event.

"There's a lot of good players around pushing up, so I'm pleased it's still going in the right direction and hoping to try to push on for at least the top 20 by the end of this year," he continued. "That's quite important for the Commonwealth Games. If I'm in the top 20 then I'm going to have a decent chance of competing for a medal in the singles. I've got medal chances in the doubles as well, but I really want to push on in the singles.

As with his sport's administrators Clyne makes no attempt to hide from the fact that squash has been in decline in Scotland, but at the same time membership has been dropping off here the sport has been exploding on a global scale which has strengthened the argument for inclusion in the Olympics.

"With the Olympic bid they were showing that squash is played all round the globe and there have been world champions from five different continents and it's getting a lot bigger in America," he noted. "They are really taking it on as a college sport so there's more players coming from there as well as from Africa and Asia."

Right now, he may not yet be in the same sort of bracket as countryman Murray, still dependent as he is on funding from Scottish Squash and sportscotland, for which he is hugely grateful, but he is moving towards self-sufficiency and is aiming to position himself to make the most of the big opportunity that is looming to raise his profile.

"The Glasgow Common-wealth Games will be huge for us," added Clyne. "While some of the leading players won't be involved, there are still some good nations there.

"You've got Malaysia and Australia, who have lost a couple of players since 2010, while England are quite strong with four guys in the top 10, so they're obviously going to be tough but I'm aiming to push up and push them hard."