The first women’s tournament of the calendar year gets underway on Friday, January 8 in France, with the Challenger 10 level PSA Squash95 Paris taking place across the weekend.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament is limited to domestic entries only. The 16-strong draw is filled with 15 Frenchwomen, and Czech No.1 Anna Serme, who resides in the country with husband Lucas, the men’s World No.35.
Four of the world’s top 100 will be in action, including Serme, who will be the No.3 seed. She will face tournament wildcard Daphne Mourier in the first round on Friday, while No.4 seed Marie Stephan will do battle with Ana Munos.
Seeded to reach the final is No.2 seed Enora Villard, who currently sits just inside the world’s top 50. She will meet Zoe Faure in the first round, while top seed Melissa Alves, who sits at her highest ever career ranking of World No.33, will face Oceane Michelot o the opening day.
Alves will be the favourite for the event, and she is looking forward to playing more matches this week, as she has spent the last year playing major tournaments, where she has consistently been knocked out at the last 32 stage.
The Frenchwoman is also just happy to be back on court after everything that happened in 2020, which included a trip home to French Guiana during the PSA World Tour’s six-month suspension.
“Well, every tournament feels like a blessing these days so I am very excited about this one. I’ve been playing bigger tournaments since the Tour started again and I have played only one or two matches per tournament,” she explained.
“Hopefully I will play more matches at this one, and I am also excited to play a tournament with some of the girls I train with everyday.
“After the last tournament in March, I went back home (French Guiana) and wanted to spend as much time as possible with my family. It was a difficult time for all of us, because there were no tournaments, of course, but also because of lockdown, it was difficult to keep the motivation to train and stay on track.
“Going back home helped me a lot because I usually only have time to go home for two or three weeks maximum. I tried to work on all the things I couldn’t work on during the season and tried to make the most of the situation.”
With the changes to the World Ranking system, which means tournaments are added over a longer period of time due to the Tour’s suspension, Alves has admitted that she has tweaked her goals for the year.
“I used to have a ranking goal for each season. With the new ranking system and the lack of tournaments, it is hard to think like that anymore,” the Frenchwoman said.
“The goal would be to break in to the top 20, but most importantly, I feel like I’m improving everyday, every tournament and keeping the motivation and will to practice and get better everyday.”
The event takes place from Friday, January 8 to Sunday, January 10 at the Squash95 Club in Saint Ouen, Paris, where Alves is the top seed for the tournament. Follow the PSA Challenger Tour on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates from the event.
First Round Draw: PSA Squash95 Paris
 Melissa Alves (FRA) v Oceane Michelot (FRA)
Ella Galova (FRA) v  Taba Taghavi (FRA)
 Lea Barbeau (FRA) v Ninon Lemarchand (FRA)
Ana Munos (FRA) v  Marie Stephan (FRA)
 Anna Serme (CZE) v [WC] Daphne Mourier (FRA)
Mahe Asensi (FRA) v  Elise Romba (FRA)
 Yuna Loaec (FRA) v Kara Lincou (FRA)
Zoe Faure (FRA) v  Enora Villard (FRA)