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British Open 2024 Recap

And just like that, the last tournament of the season is done and dusted. 


I will go through a full season recap shortly, but for now I feel it’s best to finish off the theme of the season- individual post tournament reflections. 


Match vs Tesni Murphy (Wales)

Backstory


If you’ve been reading any of my recent match recaps, you’ll have seen that I recently played Tesni at the El Gouna International just a month ago. 


Tesni has been on very good form recently, so I had no expectations going into that encounter. I was relaxed, and ended up losing in a good 3-2 battle. 


Despite the closeness of the score, I didn’t think either of us played our best. My length was a bit short, and I didn’t volley nearly enough across the T (I felt the slippery floors prevented me from being able to split step quickly to volley, which Tesni later told me she also found challenging). However, I was able to make myself tough to beat and counter attack Tesni into the front corners with straight drops. 


Because of the closeness of the score, I knew Tesni would be on her mettle this time around, and I would need to repeat or improve upon this performance. 

Mental side


In hindsight, I put unnecessary and detrimental pressure and expectations on this repeat encounter. I felt that the only way I would be satisfied with my performance was to better it- in other words, to avenge my loss from El Gouna. Although I failed to realize it at the time, this completely shifted my focus from a process and performance based focus to outcome based. My mind felt cluttered with thoughts from outside the court and I had difficulty relaxing, focusing on the process, and enjoying the experience.


For the first time in ages, I felt mostly pain-free and confident going into the match. I felt I was hitting it well, volleying more, and attacking with greater severity.


It's funny how confidence is fleeting.


One day, or during a particular period of a match you can feel untouchable, and the next, you can't figure out how to string decent rallies together.


Going into the match, I relied too heavily on my recent confidence, and not enough on the controllables: my length, my tactics, and my effort.


Tactical Reflections


I also have to give a massive amount of credit to Tesni. She completely outplayed me, and took the rhythm out of the game by changing the pace. I constantly felt like I was getting dragged around the court, and struggled to hit the winners like I did in El Gouna.


This is another important point worth mentioning. The court conditions were very different here in Birmingham compared to El Gouna. Despite the fact that El Gouna's climate was significantly hotter, the courts were colder because they were air conditioned. By contrast, Birmingham's temperature was mild, but there was no air conditioning and the squash arena was quite busy, which of course increases the temperature. This hotter temperature made it much more difficult to expose Tesni's movement, and she was still able to control the ball both deep and short because of her exceptional skills. I found it hard to make the court big enough to expose her. One of the ways I could have applied more pressure was by increasing the pace, but as I mentioned above, she did a very good job of neutralizing this by constantly changing the pace.


In addition to changing the pace, Tesni looked to take the ball very early, but instead of taking the first opportunity to go short, she would often opt to hold and volley deep, pushing me back further in the court before picking me off with straight drops and volley drops.


I felt that I was playing a good level going into this match. I was enjoying my squash, which is much to be said compared to this point last year in the season. I took confidence in this, but as I mentioned earlier, perhaps too much confidence, because I didn’t give quite enough thought to the actual game plan, or what Tesni might actually do differently against me this time given our close encounter last time. 


I’m disappointed with both the performance and the result, because it’s not the way I wanted to end the season- which was kind of how it started; a deer in the headlights performance. However, I need to move past this and enjoy the off-season, recognize and build upon what I’ve learned this season, and go into the following one even stronger. My hip is in a better position than it was this point last year (this has been a chronic issue since October 2021 now, so it’s been limiting me quite a bit for quite some time), so I need to take confidence in that and put in a lot of work this summer. 


More on this later, in my off-season recap! 


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