French champion aims to keep hold of her ToC title
By SEAN REUTHE
Defending women’s champion Camille Serme is hoping to lift her first PSA World Tour title of the season when she participates in the 2018 edition of the prestigious J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, which is held at the iconic Grand Central Terminal in New York.
Taking place between January 18-25, the Tournament of Champions is one of the most highly-anticipated tournaments on the PSA World Tour calendar and last year’s instalment saw Serme become the first Frenchwoman ever to capture the title after a superb victory over World No.4 Laura Massaro in the final.
Serme, who takes on a qualifier on day one of the women’s tournament (January 20), has been a serial semi-finalist so far this season – reaching the last four stage at three of her last five tournaments, including two semi-final losses to World Champion Raneem El Welily in November’s Hong Kong Open and last month’s PSA Women’s World Championships.
And the World No.3, who is once again seeded to meet El Welily in the semi-finals in New York, says that she is focusing on her squash as she aims to end an 11-month trophy drought.
“So far, my season has been a bit up and down,” said 28-year-old Serme. “I’m a bit disappointed not to have won a PSA tournament yet, but there’s still plenty to come. I want to focus on my squash and on how I can still improve and become a better player. That is what worked last year.
“Winning the Tournament of Champions last year was amazing, especially because I have always admired this tournament. Playing in the Grand Central Station in New York is incredible and it was great to have my staff and my good friends with me.
“I’m the kind of person who always looks at the places where we play and thinks how lucky we are, we have an amazing job. Grand Central Station has a lot of history and it’s amazing to play there.
“I can’t wait to play there, I just want to enjoy that location, that court, and play on it as much as I can.”
Serme is part of a top-class women’s draw that also includes stars such as Massaro, World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and eight-time World Champion Nicol David, while 15-year-old tournament wildcard Marina Stefanoni will become the youngest ever player in the history of the Tournament of Champions to compete at the event.
Meanwhile, World No.1 Gregory Gaultier heads up the men’s tournament, which starts two days earlier on January 18, and he is seeded to meet World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final – a match that could decide the destination of the World No.1 spot in next month’s World Rankings.
This year’s Tournament of Champions is the most lucrative edition ever with an equal $165,000 prize fund up for grabs, while points for the PSA World Series Standings are also on offer as players try to qualify for a place in June’s PSA World Series Finals.
Glass court matches from the main draw will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe Only), while the semi-finals and finals will also be shown on mainstream broadcasters such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
2018 Men’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA.
Men’s First Round:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [WC] Todd Harrity (USA)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Qualifier]
James Willstrop (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[Qualifier] v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Simon Rösner (GER) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v [Qualifier]
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Diego Elias (PER) v [Qualifier]
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Leo Au (HKG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s First Round:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Joey Chan (HKG)
[Qualifier] v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA)
Salma Hany (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v Victoria Lust (ENG)
Fiona Moverley (ENG) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Qualifier]
Donna Urquhart (AUS) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Nicol David (MAS)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
[Qualifier] v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
[Qualifier] v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Tickets for the tournament start from just $8 and can be purchased via the tournament website: www.tocsquash.com
Picture courtesy of PSA