Cardiff-born squash ace Tesni Evans is the highest Welsh World-ranked player of all time.
The 25-year-old, now rated 12th best squash player in the World, is aiming high, saying: “I’d love to be World champion one day.”
Tesni, who moved from South Wales to Rhyl with her family at the age of 10, powered to the World Championship quarter-finals in Manchester last month before going down 9-11, 7-11, 9-11 against Egyptian Nour El Tayeb.
In the previous round Evans defeated former world champion Laura Massaro (England) to earn a place in the last eight.
Brother Emyr, aged 21, is climbing the men’s World ranking list and Tesni tweeted: “What a great way to start 2018!
“A career high of 127 for @EmyrevoEmyr and I’m up to 12 in the rankings. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018.”
Five-times senior Wales champion Tesni has high hopes for this year, competing in the Commonwealth Games for Wales and working to improve her ranking again, possibly into the top 10.
Tesni won her first Professional Squash Association tour title in 2015, powering past four Egyptians to capture the Sharm El Sheikh International crown.
She broke into the World’s top 30 the following month, qualified for the semi-finals at the prestigious Wadi Degla Open in Egypt and took her place among the leading 20 players.
Tesni, who is coached by her dad Andrew, is now at number 12 and her next test is in Saudi Arabia for the $165,000 Women’s Saudi PSA Masters at Abdul Rahman University, Riyadh (January 7 to January 12). Her first round opponent is England’s Millie Tomlinson.
After that Saudi test, Tesni flies to the $165,000 Women’s JP Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal, New York. The draw has pitted Tesni against Hania El Hammy (Egypt) in the opening round.
“I’m proud to play for and represent Wales,” says Tesni, who started going on court at the age of four.
“I don’t know if I would call it playing squash at that stage. It was far more like running around and swinging the racket hockey style.
“My first tournament was at seven-years-old and over the first three years it was very much hit and hope, seeing what happened.”
Tesni has made massive progress since then, is at number 12 in the New Year standings and says: “Just being among the top 20 players is great. That means no qualifying round matches.
“Qualifiers have to play twice before they go into the first round, but those in the leading 20 go directly into the main tournament.”
Tesni goes to the Gold Coast in Australia during April for the Commonwealth Games and has high hopes, particularly in the doubles.
“My hope is that I play well and try to grab a medal in the doubles,” she says. “That would be amazing.
“Looking further into the future I have to keep working hard to improve and progress. Winning the World Championship would be the pinnacle for me.
“Every professional player wants to be number one and win the World title. To tell somebody you are World Champions is a dream I would love.”
Tesni is coached by dad, Prestatyn-based high performance coach Andrew, at Bangor University, while she is an ambassador for squash equipment manufacturer Karakal.
“One of the main people to help me develop is my dad,” says Tesni. “He has helped me from the beginning, working on my game, teaching me things and developing my squash.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t been for his input.
“Welsh Squash have always been so supportive of me, whether it has been Chris Robertson or David Evans now, who are the only two national coaches I have worked with.
“I can’t thanks Sport Wales enough either. They have funded me from the beginning. There is no way I could do this without their help, while Karakal and Ashaway who are my sponsors.
“Their support has been great, too, and they always easy to deal with.”
World Women’s squash rankings: 1 Nour El Sherbini (Egypt), 2 Raneen El Welily (Egypt), 3 Camille Serme (France), 4 Laura Massaro (England), 5 Nouran Gohar (Egypt), 6 Nicol David (Malaysia), 7 Nour El Tayeb (Egypt), 8 Sarah Jane Perry (England), 9 Joelle King (New Zealand), 10 Alison Waters (England), 11 Annie Au (Hong Kong), 12 Tesni Evans (Wales), 13 Olivia Blatchford (USA), 14 Joshna Chippana (India), 15 Emily Whitlock (England).