Marche Hoping For Second Sight

Gregoire Marche has revealed that he is hoping second sight can help him climb back into the top-20 ahead of his return to competitive action this week at the Black Ball Open – in what will be his first PSA event since January – where he faces Mohamed El Sherbini in the opening round on Thursday.

The Frenchman took the brave decision to go through eye surgery after his appearance at the TOC in New York in January to help finally cure the Astigmatism and Myopia that has caused him to suffer from blurred vision since his childhood.

Now 34, the former World No.11 will return to the PSA World Tour this week after an encouraging recent foray back to the match court at the Edinburgh Open – where he defeated Scottish No.1 Greg Lobban in a titanic 71-minute five game battle in the quarter-finals before losing to Joel Makin in the semis.

et as the impressively candid Marche admitted he feared the worst: “It’s tough to say right now if it was worth it, slowly it is getting better week after week, which is good as to be honest I was a bit scared it wouldn’t even be the same as before.

“The improvement is not that much and I think it still needs more time as when I feel tired or it’s dark I struggle but during the day it is better.

“At Edinburgh I hadn’t touched a racket for six weeks and had just been on the bike and at the gym but squash wise I didn’t know how it would go and it was a relief it was positive.”

As the World No.32 revealed the problem has troubled him since childhood: “When I was a kid it was not too bad and my vision was okay although not perfect.

“But when I was a junior I always felt I needed something to see the ball better, but playing with glasses was a nightmare as it’s always tricky with the sweat and humidity, in fact that can make it worse and you can’t see the ball after a long rally.

“I also tried some contact lenses, but I just never found the right thing, it just wasn’t comfortable and after a while I just couldn’t do it and it was worse on court.

“So as I had been playing like this since I was a kid I decided just to keep doing that. But for a few years now I have been trying different things as it was becoming a real problem for me.

“The perception of the ball is very important and in some matches I just felt it was a big handicap and I needed to find good lenses and a solution and of course I was getting older.

“At night I was wearing my glasses a bit more often and it was clear I needed to do something. So two years ago I tried some new lenses but again couldn’t find the right one.”

In desperation Marche knocked on his doctor’s door and it was then that surgery became a real option.

“Basically my right eye is never going to be 100% but at the end it should be worth it and I had the surgery in January.

“There is more than one type of surgery with the easy one then the next day you are out of hospital and you are fine in a couple of days.

“But the one that I had was more complicated, as the top of my eye wasn’t wide enough, and this meant more recovery time was needed and I had to be in the dark for four days and not open my eyes.

“So I stayed with my parents and they basically took me home and fed me and for one week. It was a struggle but step by step it has improved. The doctor said it will take three months to be more stable and the surgery was 23 of January, so we are still getting there.”

After withdrawing from the Windy City Open, Marche finally took the competitive plunge in Edinburgh, competing away from the PSA World Tour after his doctor gave him some bad news.

“I just wasn’t ready in February and when she said three months as I was Iike: ‘Wow!’ and if she had told me before I would have done it in the summer but the doctor didn’t really explain that.

“I am a bit relieved how Edinburgh went as I had been a while away from the court, but I think I found my game again. So I played Edinburgh to get these competitive matches in and I was pleased with how I played.

“To beat Lobban in five in Scotland was good and also to take Makin to four games in the semi was pleasing as I really competed. Also in a league match I beat Yahya Elnawasany (World No.38), so I was pleased with that match as well as he is young and really motivated.

“So I hope I am on the right path.”

After suffering from a virus and a hamstring tear last year Marche revealed his motivation has never been higher as he gets ready to march into the Egyptian capital:

“Two years ago I had a big drop in motivation and was close to retiring and I also lost some of my creativity. But I have found a way to get my passion and motivation back and now some issues are better and my body is fixed.

“I worked hard last summer and I felt much better but the eye surgery has cost me a lot of time on tour and now I just want to get going again.

“I have a busy end to the season with El Gouna, the World Champs, Europeans, Manchester and the British Open and I feel if my eyes keep improving I can really make up some of the lost ground.”