Welshwoman Tesni Evans came into the 2019/20 PSA World Tour season with the aim of consolidating her place in the top ten in the World Rankings, as well as pushing for a top eight spot and beyond.
She remains in the top ten, currently sitting at World No.9 where she has spent the majority of the past 18 months. However, due to an ankle injury and the suspension of the Tour due to COVID-19, Evans only has spent 17 minutes on court in 2020, most of that being on the floor in pain after an unfortunate collision with her second round opponent at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Olivia Blatchford Clyne.
The Welshwoman missed the following few months of the season, which included two Platinum events, in the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family and the CIB Black Ball Women’s Open, as well as a string of Bronze and Silver tournaments in Brooklyn, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has helped Evans, though, as it has given her more time to recover from the injury, and when the Tour resumes again, she will be raring to go after an even longer lay-off than all of those around her in the World Rankings.
“The ankle is good, healing well and starting to get its strength back now which is really important going forward,” she explained.
“It was very frustrating. Having only played three events in the first half of the season, I was really looking forward to getting stuck in at the Tournament of Champions, it’s a great event and after having a really good solid training block leading up to it, I was really eager for a competition for it to last less than ten minutes.
“So it was a very frustrating moment for me, but you know, being a professional athlete, you have to be prepared that injuries are going to happen, so it’s important to get it right now and get back ready to go again!”
Tesni Evans receiving treatment at the 2020 Tournament of Champions
Having now not played professional for almost six months due to the injury lay-off and the suspension of the Tour due to COVID-19, Evans has had plenty of time off the squash court. She admits that she has not been wasting any of it, and that she has been training hard to make sure that she is ready to go whenever play restarts.
“I am making the most of this extended break, it’s a good time to get some really good off court training time in so I have had a big focus on that and getting my ankle 100% ready for competition,” Evans said.
Due to the injury, Evans was unable to push on and achieve her goal of making it into the top eight in the World Rankings. She currently sits at World No.9 following the retirement of former World No.1 Raneem El Welily, and her goals remain the same for when play resumes.
“I always had a big goal of being a top ten player and I'm really happy I have showed some consistency to hold that ranking of World No.9 for over a year,” the Welshwoman explained.
“But, on the other hand, I am disappointed that I haven't been able to progress more towards those top eight players and move my ranking up, so plenty of work needs to be done to try and crack the top eight!”
As World No.9, Evans is comfortably her nation’s best female player, and along with Joel Makin, the men’s World No.10, the pair are pushing Welsh squash forward.
As Welsh No.1, though, Evans does not feel the pressure of the nation on her shoulders, she is just happy to be leading the way, and she is proud of her achievements. The Welshwoman also believes that there is a growing list of juniors, and those just breaking into the professional game, that could challenge in years to come.
“Being Welsh No.1 is great! We are only a small country so everyone is always really supportive and encouraging, and behind all of us Welsh squash players,” she explained.
“I don’t feel like the nations hopes are on my shoulders at all, we have so many players on the Tour now from Wales who are playing great squash and doing the country proud.
“You only had to see how well the guys did at the Men’s World Team Championships, finishing third in an event that strong is amazing, and they are a growing team so there is plenty more years left for them.
“We now have two top ten players in a country our size which is amazing. Joel's had a great season and is improving all the time. All the boys are improving all the time, Emyr [Evans, Tesni’s younger brother], Peter [Creed], and Elliott [Morris Devred] have also had great seasons and long may it continue in having squash booming in Wales like it is.”
Away from squash, there would have been plenty of celebrations in the Evans household over the last week or two, as her favourite sports team wrapped up their first league title in her lifetime…
“I’m a massive fan of Liverpool FC so that’s a huge interest for me. I try to go to games if I can, but I don’t miss their matches on television unless I'm competing really!”