Tesni Evans is proudly flying the flag for Wales at the FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships in Philadelphia.
British and Welsh champion Evans, who was born in Cardiff and lives in Rhyl, defeated World number five Joelle King in the quarter-finals to set up a massive test against England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.
“Happy to be through to the US quarter-finals for the first time after a tough battle with good friend Joelle,” says Evans.
— Squash Info (@SquashInfo) October 9, 2018
“I’m not going to lie, if you look at the head-to-head [against Perry] then I’m not looking too good,” says Evans. “I’ve never beaten her before, but this is an opportunity to have another go.
“I can’t wait for the quarter-finals and I’ll give it everything I have.”
Perry, from Birmingham, is ranked number eight in the World and will start favourite against Evans, but the 25-year-old Welsh player has a fighting spirit and inner strength that drive her on (women’s match highlights below).
That was underlined in the 7-11, 12-14, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 against New Zealand’s King when Evans played spell-binding squash as she took control and hit back after losing the opening two games.
Evans had beaten Commonwealth Games gold medalist King at the Allam British Open in May, and can reflect with pride on the tenacity, athleticism and skill she produced.
Victory against Perry, who defeated India’s Joshua Chinappa 3-0 in her last game, would earn a first ever PSA World Tour Platinum semi-final for the 25-year-old Evans.
“I was completely outplayed for the first two games against Joelle,” says Evans. “She had me running everywhere and was all over me. Something had to change.
“I tried to change my game a little and luckily it paid off in the end.”
The Perry v Evans quarter-final starts 10pm UK time (5pm, local time at Philadelphia’s Drexel University).
England’s Laura Massaro and last year’s runner-up Raneem El Welily both earned wins, beating Malaysia’s Nicol David and United States number one Olivia Blatchford.
World number seven Massaro and eight-time World Champion Nicol David have contested an enthralling rivalry over the past 13 years and were meeting for the 34th time on the PSA Tour, with David leading the head-to-head record 23-10 going into the match.
Massaro earned a 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, losing a two-game advantage before taking the final set.
It was three-time World champion Nick Matthew who helped Massaro get back on track and she said: “Before the fifth Nick came over and said ‘you need to get your body language up and hit the ball the way you know you can. This comes down to whether you want it or not’
“Sometimes it just needs to be simplified like that and I just went on there and tried to fight. There were a few more fist pumps.”
Massaro and El Wellily now play each other in the quarter-finals.
In the USA men’s tournament French ace Gregory Gaultier, who plays for Cardiff-based Welsh Wizards in the Premier Squash League, is in the quarter-finals.
Gaultier, who plays Egypt’s World number two and defending champion Ali Farag, defeated Zahed Salem 3-1 to qualify for the last eight.
“I didn’t play amazing squash,” said Gaultier. “It’s the first time I have played on this court. It was quite difficult, the ball moves a little faster than usual and I just needed to get my mark and find my length.
“I was judging my game all the time and couldn’t get my short game going, but at the end of the day I did what I had to do, just win, and that’s all I care about.”
@GeorgeGForce @JamesleeDarren @BenMurphy001 @Rhys14W North East Wales men’s team into the last place play off. The only winner @tesnievans in both matches at number 1. We need more women in the men’s team #squashgirlscan pic.twitter.com/YGZwZAXqk0
— WrexhamBrymbo Squash (@wxmbrymbosquash) September 22, 2018
The other men’s quarter-final on the bottom half of the draw will be contested by Germany’s World number five Simon Rцsner and Colombia’s sixth-ranked Miguel Angel Rodriguez after they enjoyed respective wins over England’s George Parker and Mexico’s Cesar Salazar.
World number three Marwan ElShorbagy, who also plays for the Welsh Wizards, did play play in the USA Open, withdrawing due to personal reasons.
Welsh player Joel Makin, from Pembrokeshire, reached the last 16 in Philadelphia thanks to an 4-11, 15-13, 11-9, 12-10 win against French ace Mathieu Castagnet, who is at 26 in the World.
Makin, 23, went out 5-11, 11-13, 5-11 against Farag in the last 32.