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Declan James Makes Comeback After Suffering Achilles Injury

Will Weissman

Declan James celebrates after defeating Baptiste Masotti in the Gillen Markets London Squash Classic Tournament on March 27, 2024.

In November of 2022, PSA’s World No. 45, Declan James, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, ending his season with a long road of recovery. With surgery ten days after the injury, James was forced to leave the game behind for months. 

Shortly after his injury, the Englishman tweeted, “The hunger and drive is as strong as ever and I will be back. I’m 29 years old and this latest setback isn’t going to be the end of the story in my Squash career.” 

Despite his determination to get back on court, James embraced recovery by spending time with friends and family and recuperating from “the jet lag, the tournaments and the brutal matches.”

With his hiatus from the PSA Tour, James’s ranking moved outside the top 200 in the world. However, the Englishman remained optimistic, excited to play pressure-free squash, and quickly climbed back into the rankings. After months of recovery and training, Declan James’ return began in late November of 2023 at the PSA Des Hauts De France. While James lost in the finals to Spain’s Bernat Jaume and the current World No. 54, his tournament performance proved his ability to play at the highest level even after his injury. After losing in the second round of the QSF 5 and the finals of the Ipswich Sports Club Challenger Cup, James finally found his strive in the Odense Open. He defeated World No. 97 and Wale’s Owain Taylor to win his first title in over a year. 

With newfound momentum and confidence, James entered the GillenMarkets London Squash Classic, one of the largest tournaments of the year, played in his home country of England. Having an improved rank of World No. 76, Declan James met Egypt’s Mohamed El Sherbini and World No. 19 in the first round, winning both games in a best-of-three format. In the second round, he faced France’s Baptiste Masotti and World No. 14, who he defeated in an impressive three games. 

After a spectacular run, James met former World No. 1 Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad in the quarter-final, with hopes of reaching his first semi-finals in a Gold-level PSA tournament. The Englishman continued his streak of superb squash, playing effective shots to the front, which pushed Gawad from edge to edge on the court. James upset his opponent in the first game, winning 11-8, and went up 10-9 in the second game to force a match ball. While Gawad equalized the game at 12-12, the Englishman received a generous call to win the match, sending the English-backed crowd into eruption. 

“I’m just happy to be playing a decent standard. It’s been a long road back, a long 18 months, jeez, a lot of hard work and suffering. Nights like tonight make the suffering worth it,” James said after the match. 

While he lost to Egypt’s Mostafa Asal, the current World No. 4, in the semi-finals, James’ performance at the GillenMarkets London Classic placed him at a level higher than when his season ended over a year ago. After a long road of recovery, Declan James has thrived in his return by producing what might be the best squash of his career.


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