England’s World No.5 Sarah-Jane Perry booked her spot in round two of the Manchester Open after overcoming Scotland’s Lisa Aitken in a scrappy fixture inside the National Squash Centre.
The majority of the points won were down to either errors or due to let or stroke decisions in a match that suffered from some early traffic issues and a lack of accuracy from both players, who both showed signs of rustiness following the six-month suspension of the PSA World Tour.
The pair are close friends and housemates and this time it will be Perry who has bragging rights as she rounded out an 13-11, 11-6, 11-6 victory to ensure she will play either Canada’s Hollie Naughton next.
Perry is looking to continue the form she showed before the pandemic hit, with two final appearances and a couple of semi-final finishes in her last four PSA events.
Flying volley –
SJPerry15</a> style!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashIsBack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashIsBack</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCROpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCROpen</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCRActive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCRActive</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/GLL_UK?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">GLL_UK
Better_MCR</a> <a href="https://t.co/1DZJz5Yhei">pic.twitter.com/1DZJz5Yhei</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) September 17, 2020
“I expected Lisa to come out and just go for it and she hit some really great shots,” said Perry.
“I’ve been getting better and better the last few weeks and that was not it. It’s really hard because even before this tournament there were a few articles that said we were training together a bit, then you see the draw and you’re playing each other. We’ve only known the draw for a week but because of the break it feels like you’ve known the draw for about six months and I think that was all the anxiety of the last six months that just came out.
“I think I managed to up my game a little bit to get in front of her just enough, but if I left a short one or a loose one she was all over it, so I wouldn’t say it was easy by any means. It’s definitely positive to just be out there competing, I don’t play squash to train, I play to compete.
“I know how hard it’s been for PSA to make happen, so I think we’re all really grateful for that because we just love playing squash. It’s different to what we’re used to but it’s the new normal for now and the players will quickly adapt and get used to it.
“I did what I could today, I didn’t get to the level that I wanted but I’ll keep trying to improve and maybe get my feet moving a bit quicker. They were a bit slow today, but it’s hard when you haven’t been able to get on the court as much as you’re used to. I think I have to work extra hard to get my feet moving compared to some of the players, I’m not known for my fast feet, so I need to get them moving before Saturday when I play next.”
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-0: 13-11, 11-6, 11-6 (33m)