INTERVIEW by RJ Mitchell
In an exclusive interview with the PSA World Tour, England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry explains what is motivating her this season.
Sarah-Jane Perry is hoping that being named PSA Player of the Month for October will give her the launchpad to achieve her twin targets for the season of a Platinum Series title and world top four ranking.
October saw Perry retain her Oracle Net Suite Open title in San Francisco with a defining victory over reigning World Champion Raneem El Welily in an epic five-game triumph in the final.
That was followed by another 'eye-balls out' run to the final of the Carol Weymuller Open where the proud Englishwoman lost out in four tough sets to world no3 Nour El Tayeb.
But speaking exclusively to PSA World Tour ahead of her appearance at the PSA Platinum event Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open, Perry has revealed that her stellar start to the season has also been down to the lingering hurt of her 2018 Commonwealth Games final defeat at the hands of Joelle King.
“It has been a great start to the season in terms of defending my title in San Francisco and then backing it up with a final appearance at the Carol Weymuller and the recognition for that in being named PSA Player of the Month for October was really nice but I have to use those successes to kick-on now,” admitted England's Perry.
“What those two tournaments, in beating Raneem and then losing a tight one to Nour, have also shown me is that I now have the physical and mental ability to go all the way in tournaments but the next step for me is to take that into the Platinum tournaments like the Hong Kong Open.
“I have to be honest and say that in the past if I made a quarter or a semi-final then I almost viewed it like my final and it was like I just didn't have the mental or physical gas to take it all the way. Now that is gone and I know that I have it in me to compete all the way through five physical matches.
“What needs to hold and stay firm is my game plan. Where things have gone awry this season it has been down to the fact I didn't stick to it and failed to execute but with every tournament I am getting stronger on that.
“Now I am not scared to say that my targets are to break the top four and I know that to achieve that, most likely, I need to land a Platinum title!”
Yet despite her success this season the memory of Perry's greatest disappointment is still proving her greatest motivation.
“Obviously losing the Commonwealth Games final was a real disappointment. In particular to battle back from two sets down and to give myself a real shot at the gold in the fifth set and come up short was hard to take,” said 28-year-old Perry.
“But after reflecting on it all with my coaching team I realised that in the past I would probably have lost 3-0 to Joelle and instead of being a negative I took it as a positive and proof of how far I had come mentally.
“It was the same in October. Sandwiched between the Oracle Net Suite and the Carol Weymuller was a really disappointing US Open in which I lost to Tesni Evans in five at the last eight stage but what really mattered, and again underlined my improvements, is that I responded to that by going on a run to the final at the Weymuller.”
All of which takes us to next week's Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open, which is posting an equal prize pot for both the men's and women's tournament for the first time, where Perry could once again face new top-10 ranker Tesni Evans. So is revenge on Perry's mind?
“I think Tesni deserves a lot of credit, she has been improving steadily now for some time and for me her improvement underlines just how strong and competitive the women's game is and how hard everyone is working to improve their squash,” said the Englishwoman.
The World No.6 continued: “At the US Open Tesni played better than me, that's the bottom line. She has a game that stops you playing your game and you have to work very hard to impose your squash on her.
“Before that happens I will need to get past Zeina (Mickawy) or Low Wee Wern and the key to tournament squash is never to look past your next match. But the best I've done in Hong Kong is a last 16 slot and going beyond that is a huge motivation ahead of the tournament.”