Tennis/Squash

Franklin: why I have to chase pro squash dream

  • Micah Franklin, Commonwealth Games (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Micah Franklin says it is time to be “selfish” as he prepares to completely immerse himself in fulfilling his squash potential.

Franklin will relocate to a yet-to-be-determined North American location this summer for six-months to a year as he looks to win “as many games as possible” on the PSA World Tour.

It will be Franklin’s second stab at full-time squash.

He spent several years in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, honing his skills under the tutelage of esteemed coach Tim Vail before returning home in 2016 to work as a coach for the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association.

“I’ve proven to myself that I can sustain a job at a squash club, but if I continue doing this for another five years I’ll probably have some regrets,” said the 25-year-old. “I didn’t want that and I spoke to Patrick [Foster, the Bermuda director of squash] after the Commonwealth Games and I had his support.

“I also spoke to my parents and they said, ‘Just do it’. Pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to said the same thing.”

It was at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, in April when Franklin first toyed with the idea of relinquishing his coaching duties at the BSRA.

Although he suffered a straight-sets defeat to Scotland’s Kevin Moran in the Classic Plate final, Franklin felt the difference in class was only marginal.

It was not until he lost to Noah Browne in the MHB National Squash Championship a month later, however, that he had the “wake-up call” he needed to make the change.

“The Commonwealth Games was such an amazing experience,” said Franklin, who is ranked 206th in the world. “I felt like I was so close to the guys above me that I could almost taste it. It really wasn’t that big of a gap.

“Giving 100 per cent commitment is what it takes because that’s what those other guys are doing.

“While I’m in Bermuda, I have lessons, I have junior programmes, I have admin; that’s cutting into the 100 per cent. I’m going into the 80s, the 70s. When I lost to Noah it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I think it was a good thing and helped me make this decision. I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to do it one more time’.”

Franklin believes he is fitter and mentally stronger than when he was previously based overseas.

He hopes to move to Toronto “a great central location to North American tournaments” or Connecticut to work under renowned Australian coach Rodney Martin, a former world No 2.

“England was a great experience and I loved training there,” said Franklin, who is in Kingston, Jamaica, coaching the island’s youngsters at the Junior Caribbean Championships. “But things off the court were getting quite stale for me and I needed a change. I made a decision to come back to Bermuda and I don’t regret it. It’s something I needed to do at that stage of my life.

“My goal in the past was to climb the rankings, thinking, ‘I’ve got to get there, I’ve got to get there’. But I feel like I’m doing it for myself now and nobody else.

“It’s a little bit selfish, but I’m just going out there to win as many matches as I can.”

Such is Franklin’s popularity at the BSRA, about $6,000 was raised by its members to assist him as he makes one final push on the pro squash circuit.

Up first, though, is the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, from July 19 to August 3, where he will join Browne and Nick Kyme, a former world No 63, in Bermuda’s team.

“Knowing what the competition looks like, I think we’re in with a medal chance,” said Franklin, who will play doubles with Browne.

“Nick is an ex-Bermudian No 1 and a former top 70 player in the world. Having him at No 3 — well, I don’t think Bermuda has ever sent a team that has been so strong. This is one of our better chances.

“With these competitions — not playing for ranking points, not playing for money, strictly playing for pride for your country — is where I really excel.”

Franklin will have another chance to represent his country at the Pan American Senior Championships in the Cayman Islands in August, where Bermuda will look to reach next year’s quadrennial event in Lima, Peru.

Joining Franklin in Bermuda’s squad will be Browne, Kyme, Laura Robinson, Emma Keane and Alex Furtado.

“Bermuda squash has never been to the Pan Ams because of the strict qualifying rules,” Franklin said.

“Because you qualify as a team and not as individuals, Bermuda has always struggled. This is a big opportunity for us and I like our chances.”