World number 16 returns to Malaysia full of hope and inspiration
Sarah-Jane Perry, who was forced to withdraw from the defence of her Granite Club Open title in Canada earlier this month because of an ankle injury, is now fit and ready to tackle her first World Championship as a seed next week.
The world no.16 from Warwickshire flies out to Malaysia tomorrow with no competitive matches behind her since having to pull out of her semi-final against Omneya Abdel Kawy in Toronto, but she stressed: “I will have spent some time on court and tested my ankle as much as needs be.
“I’m confident it won’t affect me in the rest of my preparations or when I get to Penang.”
Perry was in fine form before her injury, her semi-final in Toronto having been preceded by quarter-finals in three successive tournaments – the Tournament of Champions, Greenwich Open and National Championship.
“I’m pleased with the way I’m playing at the moment,” she commented. “There are a few little things I picked out from the last month or so. If I can apply those, I’ll be well on the way to where I want to be form-wise.”
The 23-year-old is also happy to be seeded for the first time and with her draw in Penang, where she meets Joey Chan, Hong Kong’s world no.24, in the first round on March 19.
“I guess the pressure isn’t quite as high in the sense of hotel, points, prize money, but I think I just expect more from myself now,” she said. “It’s definitely nice to go into the main draw fresh anyway and being seeded means I get to play someone ranked below me in the first round.
“I’m feeling pretty positive with my draw, just taking it one match at a time. I played Joey last time out in Malaysia and managed to win, but she’s a dangerous player, so I’ll need to be firing from the get-go for sure.”
Mention of Malaysia brings mixed memories for Perry, as although she reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open last September, it was after that tournament that she was diagnosed with two fractures in one of the vertebrae in her lumbar spine.
She recalled: “I enjoyed my last trip to Malaysia in the most part. I was struggling with my back, but now that’s all sorted I expect to enjoy it in full this time.”
Penang will be another new venue for the British under-23 champion, but she is looking forward to it by and large.
“I haven’t played in most of the places I’m going to recently,” she said. “It brings a bit of a sense of adventure with it, although you do have to rely on other people for restaurant recommendations etc and I’m quite fussy, so I hope I can find somewhere that’s meets my tastes!”
Something that does meet her tastes is the Worlds, where her initial aim is to better her previous best in the tournament – a first-round exit at the hands of Jenny Duncalf in 2012.
“Everyone is there!” she said. “It’s such a huge tournament with plenty going on. I usually like to watch quite a few of the other matches, but there will just be too many in Penang.
“I’d like to go further than last time, when I lost in the first round. No one is going to be easy to beat, but I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there and giving it my best shot!
Source: England Squash and Racketball