The British Open was my first event back after a 5 week break and a 5 week training block. I was nervous, excited and apprehensive all at the same time.
Danny and I drove over to Hull on Monday afternoon and I was quite chirpy. I had a feeling of happiness going back to Hull. Going back to where I won in 2013 and lost a great final in 2014. I guess just happy to be going to an event with energy and rejuvenation which hadn’t been the case for a while.
Tuesday morning I had an early hit on the glass court and then at 6pm I had my first round match v Joshana Chippana. I was nervous before I started but had a good warm up and made a pretty good start. I was always going to be a bit match rusty but as long as I had the mental concentration and drive to fight then I had confidence in my physical capacity and will to win! I felt like that’s what happened. I didn’t play my best. I was rusty. I was mentally fuzzy. BUT I fought and I was fit so I came through the match 3-1 and was really happy to get past the first hurdle, hoping that I would be better for having had that match.
The next day was a rest day. So a hit on court and a nice bit of lunch with Danny and DP was followed by a PSA photo shoot for future use. Below are a few pictures from the session.
The next day was my turn to play in the last 16. I was up again Nouran Gohar, a talented young 16year old from Egypt. I made a better start in this match than a couple of days before and apart from a little lapse in the 3rd game I won 3-1, fairly comfortable in the 4th game. I was really happy with my performance and even more happy to be through to the quarter final of the event.
Next up was New Zealander Joelle King who was just back from a bad achilles injury. I felt like I had played my way into some form but Joelle is fit, strong and fresh. I made a good start and I felt like the pressure was off now I was in the quarter final. I made a good start and pushed on through to the end of the match. Again I felt confident in my fitness and I was really happy that my play was becoming sharper too. I think this picture after the Quarter final shows what it meant for me to be back in the semi final.
This meant a lot to me !!!!
Semi Final up next v World Number 1, Nicol David. I was feeling good. Happy that I was feeling fairly fresh as well. I made an ok start to the first game but it went away from me quickly, losing it 11-4. The 2nd game was better. Tight the whole way with me just losing it 11-9. It was a tough game to lose, especially considering it now meant I was 2-0 down. I did not make a good start to the 3rd game, going 5-0 down relatively quickly. I remember thinking do not go down without a fight here…. I won the next point to go 1-5 and gave a huge ‘COME ON’. It was my way of getting my adrenaline going and getting myself up for the last game. It seem to have an effect, either on me, Nicol or both and I took the next 6 points to go 7-5 up. From there I won that game and after a tight 4th I saved a matchball on a lucky bounce and pushed on to take it 12-10 and level the match. By this point the crowd were amazing! They pushed me through and I went through to 10-6 matchball. Nicol saved a couple before gifting me the match with a tin and I won the 5th 11-8 in 77mins. It was huge to win that match and notch up my first win over Nicol in 2 years!
On to the final. It was always going to be tough and I did my best to recover for the final. I was playing Camille and she had a fairly easy 33min semi against Delia Arnold. I prepared well and felt ok going into the match, I was nervous as I guess most people get before a major final. Once I got on there the nerves went but I could instantly tell my legs were missing a little zip. I tried my best and got out played for the 1st two games. Camille was on fire and didn’t seem to have any nerves. I fought hard in the 3rd to battle a game back and it was tight in the 4th before I just ran out of a bit of steam. Camille playing brilliant and took the final points well to take the title.
Obviously on reflection I am extremely happy with my week in Hull. I loved the event, venue, crowd and court. However, even though making the final was a highlight, not to win the title stung a lot! I guess from that point of view it will fire me up for Alexandria which is the last event of the season in early June. Looking forward to it and hopefully I can continue the enjoyment of playing again and bring out my best level again 🙂