For Frenchwoman Camille Serme 2016/17 was a bitter-sweet campaign.
The 28-year-old started the season with a dismal showing at the Al Ahram International – resulting in an early exit that had her questioning whether she needed to change her backroom staff and wondering aloud if she was cut out to compete at the very highest level.
But she turned her season around, courtesy of a renewed vigour and adapted training regime, to taste major success at the US Open – becoming the first Frenchwoman ever to do so – a title that she will look to successfully defend in Philadelphia next week.
She replicated that winning feat at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January – winning the iconic title to become the only female player to win two major PSA World Series titles last season – but she was again left disappointed towards the end of the campaign following a premature exit at the World Championship.
We spoke to a panel of experts to find out what they’re expecting from Serme this season.
Serme in action at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals
Vanessa Atkinson – Former World No.1 & World Champion
The tenacious French No.1 was a stand-out player last season. She has proved to be one of the toughest players to beat in recent times, not only because of her physical attributes – although that's certainly a big part of her game – but she has also shown herself to be an incredibly astute and tactically aware squash player, an ability she shares with Massaro.
The changes Serme has made over the past two years have allowed her to keep pace with the rapidly evolving women's game and her back to back mid-season wins at the US Open and the Tournament of Champions proved that she is right up there with the very best.
I expect to see her consistently making it through to latter stages of the big events during the coming season.
Lee Drew – SQUASHTV Lead Women's Commentator
Camille had an amazing season last season, especially on US soil. She turned the disappointment of an early exit at Al Ahram event around incredibly but she will need to keep this belief and resilience again this season.
Serme’s volleying was brilliant last year and very consistent and if she can add extra variety to it this season, it will make it even more effective. Serme and her coach Philippe Signoret are masterful tacticians of the game, both leading into a match and adapting when things are not quite working; this understanding of the game, alongside her physicality will make her a challenge for anyone at any event. I expect Serme to be there or thereabouts at every event she plays.
Richard Eaton – Journalist for AFP and SquashPlayer Magazine
Camille has shown continued improvement when some believed she did not have the ability to do that but the Egyptian challenge is getting deeper, wider and stronger – so Camille will surely need to maintain her technical and tactical development to stay at the top. This may be tough, but she and her coach Philippe Signoret appear to have identified what is necessary.
Jonah Barrington – Former World No.1 And Squash's First professional Player
Camille has made huge strides and will continue to develop this season in my opinion. She's clearly very well coached and her team seem to be constantly analysing and looking at ways that she can add to her game. She’s very strong physically and there is no one area where she is particularly weak so I would expect her to be in the mix for all the major titles again this season.
Follow Serme's Success Live
You can watch Camille Serme throughout her journey during the 2017/18 PSA World Tour season, by tuning into Eurosport Player (Europe Only) while viewers in the rest of the world can log into SQUASHTV.