Massaro gunning for glory after 2013 British Nationals heartache
Top seed Laura Massaro is expecting her hardest challenge yet at the British National Women’s Championship in Manchester this week, as she bids to reclaim her title and win the event for a third time.
Massaro, the world number two, won back-to-back titles at the National Squash Centre between 2011 and 2012 but with 10 top 50 players competing in this year’s draw, the England number one believes the standard of competition has increased dramatically over the years.
“Every year the Nationals’ draw is getting harder as the lower players improve,” admitted the reigning British Open champion.
“The competition is strong and I’ll need to play well, but I’m confident my form is good and that I can play well for the entire event.”
“I’m due to play Welsh number one Tesni Evans in the first round, which is tougher than in the past, and then if I win, Sarah-Jane Perry, if she gets through her first round. It’s going to take a good performance from me in every match to get through the rounds.”
Massaro, who lost to Nicol David in the final of the Tournament of Champions last month, feels she has been playing well, despite suffering a surprise 3-0 defeat to Hong Kong qualifier Annie Au at the quarter-finals of the Cleveland Classic in her most recent WSA event.
“On the whole I’m pleased with how I’m playing,” said the Preston-based 30-year-old. “I had a great training period over Christmas and the Tournament of Champions went well.
“Although I lost to Annie in Cleveland, I feel that was a little bit more of a game match-up rather than poor form on my part.”
Massaro, a 12-time champion on the WSA Tour, was forced to contend with injury and illness prior to the 2013 British National event and failed to retain her title as she finished runner up to world number four Alison Waters.
But after a three week period of recuperation following her early exit from the Cleveland Classic last month, Massaro is confident her fitness and preparation are far superior to 12 months ago.
“Last year I came into the event off the back of a sickness bug and injury, so from that point of view I’m coming into the event better prepared,” she said.
“I feel our National title is very prestigious, with all the fantastic squash players on the cup who have won it in the past, so being National Champion is a big deal for all British players.”
“I want to be ranked as high in the world as I can and have just done a full year at number two. However, with that achievement comes wanting to be the best in your country. I am number one on paper, but I want to win as many National titles as I can before I retire.”
Source: British National Squash Championships; Pictures by Michael Catling