There’s nothing quite like going for an international title on home soil to add a bit of pressure but chasing such an accolade is something Rory Stewart is entirely unfazed by.

Today, the 27 year-old will begin his campaign at the Scottish Squash Open in Inverness and while the expectation from those in the stands is that Stewart will live up to his billing as top seed in the men’s singles draw, the greatest level of expectation is coming from within.

Stewart has been in some of the best form of his life in recent seasons, winning Commonwealth Games bronze in the men’s doubles last year before breaking into the world’s top 50 earlier this year.

Currently ranked 47th on the world rankings, Stewart is, on paper at least, a league above every other player in the draw – the second seed this week is England’s Ben Smith who is currently ranked 84 in the world – and the Perthshire native is not shy to admit he’ll be happy with nothing less than a victory when the tournament concludes on Sunday.

“Things have been going well this year and my ranking has been steadily increasing, which is always a good sign,” he says.

“This isn’t the first event I’ve gone into as top seed and that does bring that little bit more pressure, especially with it being a home tournament. But I’ve gone in as top seed twice in the past in tournaments and I’ve managed to win both those events so hopefully that’s a good sign. If there is any extra pressure, it comes from the fact this is a rare chance to play at home but I’m going in looking to win and I’d be pretty disappointed if I didn’t manage that.”

Having taken the step up to the World Tour this year – straight after this week’s Scottish Open, Stewart will head to Philidelphia to make his debut in the US Open – and he admits the step up has been more than a touch daunting.

However, he’s hopeful that the more he puts himself in these environments with the very best players in the world, the more comfortable he’ll become.

“With my improved ranking, I can now get into these bigger events which is great,” he says. 

“It’s quite a daunting prospect – I’ve been used to being on the Challenger Tour and going into events in the top few seedings whereas I go into these huge events as one of the last qualified players. But the more I play these events, the more used I’ll get to this level and I’m confident in my ability so I just need to plug away and hopefully the results will follow.”

Stewart has had more than just on-court matters impinging on his thoughts in recent months, though.

With squash finding it impossible to force its way onto the Olympic programme, as things stand, the Commonwealth Games is the only major, multi-sport event in which Stewart and his compatriots can compete.

However, with the current turmoil the Games finds itself in – both the 2026 and 2030 Games are struggling desperately to find a host – there appears every chance that this might be the end of the Commonwealth Games resulting in one of Stewart and his teammates most important tournaments being wiped off their calendars.

The fate of the Games remains uncertain and Stewart is well aware of the detrimental effect the absence of the Commonwealth Games would have on his sport.

“It’s been really sad to see what’s happening with the Games,” he says.

“The Commonwealth Games is the highlight of most squash players’ careers and if 2026 doesn’t happen, it’ll be a big blow to me personally. 

“And it’d be devastating for the sport in Scotland. I’d just turned 14 when the Games came to Glasgow and I remember thinking I’d love to play in it myself one day. Obviously I managed to get there and so to think that would be taken away from young players in this country would be so disappointing. 

“To this point, my whole career is defined by those two weeks in Birmingham last summer and I’m really proud of that. 

“Growing up, I heard stories about the Commonwealth Games and so to go on to be a part of it myself was huge and so it’d be devastating if that was taken away from young players.”

In the women’s draw at this week’s Scottish Open, Stewart’s compatriot and Scottish number one, Georgia Adderley, is top seed alongside the youngest player in the draw, Robyn McAlpine, from Glasgow.