United States World No.13 Olivia Blatchford is looking forward to playing in New York’s Grand Central Terminal when the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions gets under way later this week.
For the first time in her career, Blatchford has secured a spot in the main draw of the Tournament of Champions without having to go through qualifying and the American – who will face a qualifier in round one – insisted she can’t wait to step on the glass court inside Grand Central Terminal’s iconic Vanderbilt Hall.
“It’s electric,” said the 24-year-old.
“Walking onto that court in Grand Central is exhilarating – I think that the bustling atmosphere only adds to the drama that is the ToC, the energy outside the court equalling that of the competitors on court.
“The Tournament of Champions is a very special event for me, I grew up watching it year after year, starting when I was still in diapers.”
Blatchford is one of three American women in the main draw – alongside Amanda Sobhy and teenager Marina Stefanoni – a first in the tournament’s history.
“We are a force to be reckoned with! I think it’s marvellous to have the American flag represented in full force at such an iconic event, but I also know this won’t be the last time,” said Blatchford.
“We have a lot of talented players and strong young women who are more than capable to join us on the circuit.
“I’m really looking forward to these next 18 months with Team USA – we’ve got the World Team Championships in China come September time and we begin a Pan American Games year. I think it’s safe to say that good times lay in store for U.S. Squash.”
The 24-year-old has seen her career go from strength-to-strength in the past year as she has risen up the World Rankings with last season proving to be a breakthrough one as she rose 27 spots to No.13 this month – after reaching a career high of No.12 in December.
The American reached the final of the Ciudad de Floridablanca in Colombia last year and so far this season has reached the quarter-finals of the NetSuite Open and the second round of both the PSA World Championships and Saudi PSA Women’s Squash Masters.
And with compatriot Sobhy sidelined for most of last year with an achilles injury, Blatchford is currently the No.1 American Player on the PSA World Tour.
“I’d really been struggling at the tail end of 2016 and it all culminated at the World Team Championships in Paris,” said Blatchford.
“I had a lot of truths to face and for the first time I actually did face them. Most of it was really just realising how lucky I am to do what I do, to have the life that I lead and also how much I love the game.
“My favourite quote is by Buddha: ‘If you like a flower you pick it. If you love a flower you water it.’ I accepted that I had done a lot of picking in my life and that the only way to go forward was to become a waterer!”
There is also one other reason for Blatchford to be excited about 2018 has in store – her July wedding to fellow pro Alan Clyne.
“I’m very lucky – I’m marrying my best friend and really my teammate.
“We met six years ago at the Tournament of Champions, right be the glass court in Grand Central – crazy huh? I don’t believe too much will change. I will still like to cook and make a mess and Alan will still be left with the dishes to clean up but really we are a team.”