England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry is relishing her return to San Francisco as she looks to defend her Oracle NetSuite Open title this week at the PSA World Tour Gold tournament.
The Oracle NetSuite Open gets under way on Tuesday September 24 as the PSA World Tour Gold tournament sees the top players in the world battle it out on the glass Squash Engine Court in the shadow of San Francisco's iconic Ferry Building.
Perry, who has won the title the past two seasons, returns to the scene of her greatest triumph as she begins her title defence against either England’s Emily Whitlock or Canada’s Danielle Letourneau in round two and the Englishwoman admits the US city has become a happy stomping ground for her.
“I’m very happy to be going back to San Francisco,” said 29-year-old Perry.
“It’s definitely my most successful hunting ground – I've played three times and won it twice and reached the final the other time. My win percentage there must be a lot higher than anywhere else, so I can’t wait to go back. The atmosphere is always really good and I just like the city, the people are really great, so I’m really excited.”
This year’s Oracle NetSuite Open features its largest prize fund in its 10-year history with $242,000 split equally between the men’s and women’s events. The increase in prize money has seen the tournament attract arguably its overall strongest ever women’s draw, with seven of the world’s top nine players in attendance and Perry believes it’s an exciting time for the tournament.
“I don’t feel any pressure going into the tournament. I’m not one of the top seeds and it has gone up another level this year, which is really great and it’s up to the same level as the men’s now which is fantastic.
“With that comes the increase in the higher ranked players in the draw, so I’m even lower seeded than last year and I think that just takes the pressure off me even more.
“I’ll just be looking to get a first-round win really, that’s my first goal. The draw is really strong and every player I could play against is a quality player and I’m going to have to play well to beat them, so that’s the main focus. I just want to continue where I left off at the end of last season, which was playing good squash.”
One of the biggest wins of Perry’s career came at the tournament two years ago when she defeated eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the final to lift the then-biggest title of her career. The victory was made even more special as it came just after the passing of one of her biggest supporters, her nan.
Perry following her win over David in 2017
“When I first won it a couple of years ago, it was just after my nan had passed away and it was the biggest tournament win of my career to date at that point. I couldn’t help but think that she was looking down on me or something like that.
“Even though she knew nothing about squash, she was 120% behind me. She was one of my favourite people, if not my actual favourite person, so for me to be able to dedicate that win to her was very special. Obviously, I think that was bringing out the best in my squash and particularly in that final where I had to dig really deep and come back from 2-0 down.
“I think when I go to San Francisco now, and last year, I kind of have this extra belief that I can come back from any situation. I think last year in my quarter final, I was 1-0 and 10-2 or 10-3 down and I came back to win 3-1. Hopefully I don’t get myself in those situations this year, but I think there’s always that extra bit of energy and things to draw on from the more spiritual side of things from past experiences there.”
All round one and two matches will be split between the Bay Club San Francisco, SquashZone, the Olympic Club and The University Club. All matches from the quarter-finals onwards will be held on the Squash Engine Court at Embarcadero Plaza.
Tickets start from $25 and are available through the tournament’s official website. Stay up-to-date with news from the Oracle NetSuite Open by following the tournament on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Fixtures from the Squash Engine Court at the Embarcadero Plaza will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.