The next stop on the Squash Tour was the World Series event in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Open came around quickly after the Commonwealth Games and it was tough to re-group after the emotional roller coaster of Glasgow. I did what I could to prepare physically and mentally. Danny and I flew to KL from Manchester.
We had a good couple of days hitting and getting over the jetlag. Sticking to the routine was helpful and on arrival we did the work I normally do to prepare for an event. I had a qualifier first round and drew Latasha Khan out of the hat. We have played each other a lot in Malaysia and so we both knew what to expect.
I felt good in the match and managed to play ok. I didn’t think Latasha was at her best but I was pleased to win 3-0. I went back to the hotel and planned for the last 16 match against Nour Tayeb.
I felt good the next day too. Practise was going well but something was a little off with my forehand. I felt like the doubles had taken it’s toll on that side. It’s strange how the doubles affected my swing but playing down one side almost had a cramping effect on my swing. However, that was an issue to sort out once I had time to get home and see DP. For now, I had to play with what I had.
My match against Nour didn’t go that well. I lost 3-1 and was disappointed with how I played. However, I felt physically out of shape compared to the build up to the commonwealth Games. I was a bit sluggish in my movement and mentally a bit flat. Things didn’t seem to go for me that day. I reflected well and then re grouped for training. I knew if I had any chance to doing well in Hong Kong I needed to take advantage on my exit in KL and get some hard work in. That’s exactly what I did. I think it also showed that Nour had improved a lot as she went on to get to the final after beating me so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself!
We finally flew to Hong Kong and I was glad to get away from all the sweat I’d left on those courts in KL. We stayed with a family in Hong Kong this year to try and mix things up. The Sze family were amazing and we were very well looked after. Danny and I settled in well and got under way with our training and preparation again.
First round I had a qualifier and drew Kanzy El Dafrawy from Egypt. We had never played before and I was wary of not knowing how I would play after last week. I prepared well and felt my focus was good. I managed a 3-0 win and performed well.
Next up was another Egyptian – Nouran Gohar. She upset the seedlings in beating Joshna Chinappa in the first round. I started well and won 11/5, 11/8 and was feeling good. Nouran made a good start in the 3rd and I narrowly lost that game but then won a tight 4th. I played fairly well but lost my focus a little right at the end. Pleased to be through to the quarter final though against Rachael Grinham who also upset the seeding against Annie Au.
The match against Rachael went well to start. I was fairly strong and steady through the first game and won it 11/8. Then the tables turned. Rachael was playing well and the match was tight from then on. I lost the 2nd 11/7 but won the 3rd 11/9 after being down the whole way. I was positive at that point but then had a lapse and lost the 4th 11/5. I was down and not feeling great in the 5th. Rach had a 6/1 lead in that 5th game and I was at a loss what to do. I relaxed and just tried to dig in. Somehow I managed to creep back towards Rach. She had one matchball at 10/9 which I saved and then I managed to win the 5th 12/10. Not quite sure how but I was delighted.
Stretch, eat and back to the house after the match. Mentally I was on a high and it was late. I got to bed and tried to focus for tomorrow’s semi final which was against Nour Tayeb again.
The day of the semi was ok. I was a bit tired after not sleeping well but had a good hit on the all glass court that would be used for the semi and final. I went back to relax and then went back to the court for the match that night. I was a bit sluggish to start but dug in as well as I could. I got better as the match went on but didn’t have enough on the day. It was disappointing to lose 3-1 to the same opponent by the same score again after the work I’d done but Nour was playing well and I know I have more to come. Maybe I wouldn’t have even made the semi if I hadn’t done that work in KL… Who knows?
I was however pleased with my semi final after a last 16 loss in KL. Time to re group and do well in the next couple of events in the States.