By James Zug
Look at the list of top eight title winners in the world: seven of the best players ever and a guy the casual observer hasn’t heard of. It’s Mike Corren, the Australian known universally by the nickname Moose. He’s reached 38 in the world; he’s ranked 78 right now. He’s also the oldest man on the pro tour (America’s Latasha Khan is the oldest woman).
Q: What about the all-time list?
A: No look, I don’t find it amazing at all and the comparisons are chalk and cheese. I wasn’t and am not Geoff Hunt’s left foot! That goes for the other names and many many more below me. I play purely for the love of the game and because I am a stubborn old mule and find the thought of stopping most unsavory. However, folks do get quite agitated that my name gets mentioned in such lists. If through longevity I happen to appear, then so be it.
Q: When was the first time you played squash?
A: It is crystal clear. It was 1980 and I was six. My father had just switched from badminton, and I was milling behind one of the squash courts in my hometown of Millicent, South Australia. A pair of chaps finished their game, I sprung onto the court and just started throwing the ball around. This quite amused them and one of them kindly gave me a racquet to have a pop with, and that as they say was that. That was on court five.
Q: What are your secrets: how can you keep playing (besides a ruptured Achilles in the semis of an August 2006 tournament in New Zealand and some niggling back issues, you’ve remained injury-free)?
A: The bulk of my training is very old school. I do court sprints and ghosting and in my recent off season was doing 800 and 400m sprints. I keep my fitness topped up by doing ten court sprints in under twenty-six seconds for every unforced error I make in practice either in game play or condition games. I do this at the end of each game: a good concentrated game might see me do none whilst a sloppy one could see me doing forty or more. The first session I introduced this concept I ended up having to do 300 over a two-hour period. I find this system makes me very aware of the value of not making errors.
I adhere to the Paleo diet fairly religiously but apart from that the only ‘secret’ I have is an extremely strong desire to play squash well. If one has the desire, the rest falls in to place.
Q: What do you do outside of squash?
A: I am a fairly quiet bloke, I read and write a lot, enjoy quirky movies and love music. I love dogs but haven’t been able to have one obviously. I like to cook and drink red wine. I enjoy people’s company but also enjoy solitude—squash prepares you for that.
Q: How did you spend your fortieth birthday?
A: My fortieth birthday setting was quite apt I feel: at a local squash tournament. I suppose it was appropriate from almost every angle because I was competing in the sport that I love and cherish but also spent that day on my own in a hotel room which, again, aptly represents the insular nature of ‘the life’. Lastly I had the opportunity to face yet another test—winning my first event in my forties, which I did.
Q: Worst Travel Story?
A: My worst was when I got kicked off a train in the middle of winter on my way to the Hungarian Open for not having a visa. This was when there were borders in Europe still, I was kicked off somewhere in Hungary at 5am and had to walk eight miles back to the border. I got totally ripped off but secured a visa and walked the eight miles back to the station—all in shorts and with my squash bag over my back, I finally got back to the station and had missed the last train to Budapest and therefore missed the event. I used the last bit of money I had in the world to catch the train back to my base in Germany.
Q: What will you do when you retire?
A: Can’t say I am much of a planner. Obviously something in the squash industry beckons—I might move to Perth to perhaps lease a squash club, but my first choice would probably to be a writer of some description. How realistic that is I do not know, I would probably sum up my position thus.. “Just because you make a reasonable sandwich doesn’t mean you are a chef.”
Q: Why don’t you retire?
A: Overall. I think the whole thing has been about just proving that I could do something. It wasn’t about being world number 1 or world champion. It was just that I was capable of getting out and putting my hand up and being counted, like anyone doing a trade. As far as the future goes I am still very hungry, I still have a desire and intensity on court which is vital. However, I do admit that I perform at my best when the situation is unusually challenging or different. I still train hard and well each day and have no issues doing so. I am sure that the physical edge will go one day, but I intend to explore that capability to the fullest. What keeps me on tour is a pure love for training and playing, of still trying to be better and creating new levels for myself.
Where In the World Has The Moose Been?
1994 – Brisbane, Australia
1995 to September 1997 – Auckland, New Zealand
October 1997 to May 1998 – Eggenfelden, Germany
May to September 1998 – Paderborn , Germany
September to November 1998, Hannover, Germany
November 1998 to May 1999, Bremen, Germany
May 1999 to November 2001, Delft and Amsterdam, Holland
November 2001 to September 2003, KL, Malaysia
September 2003 to April 2004, Delft, Holland
May – August 2004 – Millfield, England
September to November 2004 – Ottawa, Canada
November 2004 to April 2006 – Salt Lake City, Utah
2006 playing Australian circuit with intention of going back to US
August 2006 to August 2007 – Auckland, New Zealand
September 2007 to December 2008 – KL, Malaysia
December 2008 to August 2009 – Hamilton, New Zealand
September to December 2009 – Baltimore, MD and Salt Lake City
December 2009 to April 2011 – Adelaide, Australia
April 2011 to September 2012 – Waihi, New Zealand
September 2012 to present – Adelaide, Australia