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World Championships 2024 Match Recap

I'm writing this recap a mere 5 hours after my match. I can't lie- it's a tough one to write. 

I've already ripped the bandaid off and watched it back. I feel pissed off and annoyed at the result. I knew this match would be a challenge, but it was also a good opportunity for both of us to get through to the 2nd round. Especially considering I made it to the 2nd round of the World Champs last year, I was aware I would have these big points to back up. 


My opponent, Caroline, is a very good competitor. She plays a very mature game for her age, and is athletic. Her speed put me off a bit, such that I felt the pressure to go quite low with my attacks. In hindsight, I really needed to have a bit more margin by working the ball in tight and slightly deeper, to take her speed away from her, as opposed to trying to hit a perfect winner. 


I realized last week at Canadian Nationals that my short game needs some work. I told myself going into today I was going to take the shot on and attack. Unfortunately, I hit too many errors per game (~4 instead of 1-2), which of course made a massive difference to the scoreline. 


This match stings for a few reasons. I wanted the win for confidence. I wanted to beat Caroline because it would be a solid win. It also stings because it is really in my control as to whether I make adjustments to improve my squash.

Now that my body is feeling better (knock on wood), I feel I can capitalize and really start to make some gains in my squash. My physicality needs to be a bigger weapon in terms of court coverage with respect to attacking (not just fitness and retrieving). I've struggled to effectively and consistently work on this due to my hip since the end of January. Three months- that's a long time. 


Instead of ranting, I thought I'd list the positives and areas of improvement below in bullet point format. More efficient for you and for me!


Positives:

  • My body felt really good. My hip hasn't felt this good consistently (last week against Hollie and today vs Caroline). That's a massive positive because it means I can put pressure on my opponents by retrieving more shots. Now I need to get the confidence back with my movement and use it to attack and counter attack (rather than defend).

  • I competed hard throughout. Even when I was down in the 2nd I kept fighting and did well to turn the match around and win the 3rd game. 

  • I had some mental things to deal with throughout the match (she blocked a bit, she had a former coach of mine advising her between games, she's very feisty), which I did my best to keep at bay. 

  • My length hitting was better than it was at Nationals. I made an effort to really get the ball deeper and through the court. 

  • Fitness wise I felt in pretty good order. If I had taken the 4th game, I think I could have broken her, or at least taken the sting out. 


Areas of Improvement:

  • Developing a working drop/volley drop and having more confidence taking the ball in short clinically. Expecting the ball to come back and following up. 

  • Creating more pressure going deep from the mid court rather than forcing the short ball. Ie. holding and hitting deep with better fading quality.

  • Continue working on movement to return it to being an asset of mine, and in a more proactive way. 

  • More attacking straight length hitting that produces more opportunities for me around the midcourt. Right now it's too passive. 

  • More purposeful cross courts (rather than loose hacky ones that put me under pressure or do nothing). 


Overall- I'm in a better mental and physical state than I was in Hong Kong at the end of the year. That was a real low point for me in December, because I hadn't been competing well all fall.

Now I'm competing better, but the W's aren't coming through thick and fast. On paper as I write this, it sounds totally logical because this is how the process happens. These tough losses are part of it. As crappy as I feel in this moment, I think the worst thing to do right now is to get too down on the result. I've already got 2 hits sorted for tomorrow, and I'm feeling pretty clear on what I want to work on, so that's good. 


As always thank you to the team that supports me on and off the court: my coaches (Graeme Williams and Amr Khalifa), my strength & conditioning coach (Fran from Body Space Fitness), Richardson Wealth Management, Control the T Sports, and Harrow Sports.


I'm here in Cairo commentating for a couple of days now, then I'll be back to NYC to prepare for my final event of the season- British Open in Birmingham.

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