It’s been over a week since the World Championship final and I feel like I have finally been able to digest what happened in Malaysia. I didn’t have a lot of time to get over the emotions of losing my third World Final before I was back on a plane to Poland for the European Team Championships. Maybe the quick turn around was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to accept what happened and move on. I wasn’t about to take what on the most part was a successful week in Kuala Lumpur into a team event and let my emotions bring the team down.
Initially, after the loss my emotions felt like they were on a spin cycle in the washing machine. I don’t think there is one emotion that sticks out to describe what losing that match felt like. Of the upbeat emotions there was definitely pride and satisfaction in the mix but coupled with that also some negativity in the form of disappointment and regret.
The event on the whole was positive. I won four matches and lost one. I handled the conditions well, adapted to the different situations that occurred around me and mentally got my head where it needed to be! Overall, my level of squash was high and there were improvements in my game that I had worked hard on since the British Open. I always say to myself that if I get beaten but can some how produce a good level of squash out on the court, then I will shake my opponents hand and say “well done! You were better than me today.” Although I’m never sure it’s that simple when the loss actually happens, I certainly believe I got out some performances close to my best that week. So, what more can I ask or expect of myself? It’s exciting to look back and know that in the weeks leading up to the World Championships I had been travelling on the correct path to where my game needs to go for future improvement. Therefore, I believe if I can stick to working on those areas over the summer then my game can continue to improve into next season.
I’ve had so many congratulatory messages since losing that it seems a little self indulgent to really dwell on the loss too long. As one player said to me, “I’m saying congratulations because 99% of the tour would kill to get to a World Championship final”. I know this is true but I don’t think I would be the player or competitor I am without the hurt that comes with defeat, no matter what stage of an event it’s at.
So, in retrospect the quick turn around to Poland did massively help. Thrown straight into a fantastic team spirit within the England Team of Alison Waters, Sarah-Jane Perry and Vicky Lust. We had a job to do in Poland to retain the European Title with France on paper being stronger than ever. I certainly believe that our team spirit helped us claim the title. It’s an immeasurable factor, as are a lot of the most important aspect at top level sport. While it might be far fetched to say our bond won us the title I think without it we would have been far more likely to lose. The week was a success, with great team performances in both the pool and semi final matches. It got us to the final v France in fantastic shape. The match order for the final was drawn as 3, 1, 2. A good order for us I believed. Vicky got us off to a great start beating Laura Pomportes 3-0 and allowing me the freedom to play with nothing to lose. On the opposite side of the coin Camille now knew that she had to beat me to keep France in the match. I felt relaxed and calm going into the tie. The last time Camille and I had played was in the British Open two months earier and it was not a pleasant experience for me. I wanted to perform better this time around and use the confidence gained from the World Championships to play a better match. As the game started I got a sense Camille was a little “off”. While I played well, kept the pace high and chased down everything I could I am not naive enough to think Camille was at her best. However, once I got myself into a 2-0 lead my overriding thought was one of closing the match out. Mainly so SJ wasn’t in the pressure situation of playing a deciding rubber. So I was pleased when I did manage to get over the finish line and prevent that from happening. I think all the team were happy about keeping the stress to a minimum. Although SJ obviously had complete confidence in me as she hadn’t even moved to start her warm up. Glad to know my team have faith in me!
The celebration was fun….. Drinks all round and a quick sit out in the sun before getting behind the boys in their bid to regain the title from France after losing it last year. Very clinical performances from the men meant a mainly stress free afternoon all round. Team England Men and Women Champions of Europe again. As the MC said, “I’m sure you’re the only ones that don’t get bored of you winning this title”. A little cheeky but probably a true and fair comment. I do hope however that everyone watching enjoyed the level of squash that was played on finals day.
The very next day our England senior performances were made even sweeter when it was capped off with a win at junior level too. The under 15 and 17 junior teams won in Belgium making it a European clean sweep. I certainly feel the future is looking bright for Team England! Congratulations to everyone involved in the junior titles and a massive thanks to all the staff involved in our senior wins! Wouldn’t be possible without you 🙂