Egypt trip will be a huge thrill for Tartan Army’s three debutants
By JAMES WALTER (Squash Mad Correspondent)
Lisa Aitken, Georgia Adderley, Katriona Allen and Alison Thomson have been selected to play for Scotland at this year’s 2022 WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championships, which takes place at Cairo’s Madinaty Sports Club in Egypt between 10-16 December 2022. Due to COVID disruptions the tournament has been on hold since 2018, and Scotland hasn’t competed since France 2012.
The Scotland selection is a heady mix of youth and experience and includes three debutants, Georgia, Katriona and Alison as well as one of Scottish squash’s legends, Lisa Aitken. Lisa is competing in her second Women’s World Team Championships.
After the recent success at the World Doubles in Glasgow and Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the Women’s World Team Championships provides another unique opportunity for some of Scotland’s rising stars to compete at the highest level.
Georgia Adderley is one of Scotland’s brightest talents having competed at her first World Doubles in Glasgow in April and has continued to show impressive form by breaking into the top 60 on the PSA tour this year.
Georgia was also one of three debutants to be selected for the Commonwealth Games and achieving a strong quarter final finish in the women’s doubles with Lisa Aitken. Georgia is relishing the opportunity to finish a successful year on a high note.
She said: “It’s great to finally get the chance to represent Scotland at the Women’s World Teams. This is the first time the tournament has been held since 2018 and before that, I wasn’t quite experienced enough for that level of competition.
“It’s always a thrill playing for Scotland and to do it on one of the biggest stages is as good as it gets. I think we have a great group of players this year and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.
“The run up to the tournament has been busy but that’s the way I like it. I find I play my best when I have a lot of matches under my belt. Over the next few weeks, I’ve got a few events lined up which will hopefully put me in a good position going into this event.
“Looking at the team list, there are some strong contenders but I think with the talent we have, we have a great chance of doing well. I’d love to play against the Egyptians. They are so strong with three of the world’s best players in their team. Playing against the top teams is a great barometer to where we are. There’s always the potential for an upset, so we’ll see!”
Meanwhile, Alison Thomson is also relishing the opportunity to pull on a Scottish jersey again after tearing her radial ligament back in November 2021. The injury put her out for more than eight months.
After a long rehabilitation, Alison finally got back on court in June this year and successfully competed at two PSA events, making the semi-finals of the Switzerland Open 5k and Czech Open 3k. But Alison admits the biggest win for her is to be back on court competing at the highest level.
She said: “If someone told me at the start of the year, I was going to be selected for Scotland at the Women’s World Team Championships, I wouldn’t have believed them!
“I’ve been playing for Scotland for seven years now, but this is my first World Team Champs and I’m relishing the opportunity. It’s always an incredible feeling being selected for your country and I particularly enjoy team events because I believe it brings out the best in me.
“I have never been to Egypt before, so playing my first World Teams in such an iconic country embedded with squash tradition, makes this event very special.
“My preparations have been going well having just finished a 6-week training block in Edinburgh, and played two PSA events in Europe. I’ve got two more events in the UK and one further training block before we leave for Egypt I December. I feel fit and ready to go.”
Katriona Allen has also had a tough season after an injury at the end of last year meant extended time away from court. She is hoping this tournament will ignite her form and get her season back on track.
She said: “It’s been a tricky year but to be selected for Scotland again shows I’m getting back to my best. It’s a particular honour to play in this prestigious the tournament, as the last time Scotland competed was back in 2012. Playing against some of the world’s best teams you learn so much about yourself and what it takes to be the best. It’s also a great feeling to be part of a team.
“I’ve never been to Egypt so I’m really looking forward to experiencing what they have to offer, especially in a country which has produced so many great players over the years. It’s where you want to be as a squash player. I’ve trained hard for this, with some PSA competitions both in Europe and the UK to keep me sharp. I can’t wait!”
As the most senior player in the group, Lisa Aitken will provide the team with leadership and a cool head during the pressure moments, drawing on her huge wealth of talent and experience to galvanise Scotland towards success.
Despite a period of illness and some injury setbacks, Lisa has had a stellar season this year reaching the quarter finals of the Commonwealth Games in the summer and winning a bronze medal in the mixed doubles with Greg Lobban at the WSF World Squash Doubles in Glasgow.
Paul Bell, Director of Squash at the Scottish Squash Association said: “It’s great to finally be able to take a women’s team to the World Team Championships for Scotland. In my six years in Scotland we have seen the women’s side of the game go from strength to strength and it is fantastic to now be in a position where we have four full time players who are competing well on the PSA Tour.
“All four players are fantastic role models for our sport so it will be great to give them the limelight at a major event. I know all of the players are super excited to be going to Egypt and I am hopeful that we can turn that excitement into some good performances to pull off a few wins while we are out there.”
The 2022 WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championships is a biennial international tournament which sees four-player squads from each country battle it out in best-of-three-match clashes.
Hosts and defending champions Egypt will go in as strong favourites. Three of the four players who won the Dalian 2018 tournament still play at the highest level, with Nouran Gohar ranked World No.1, Nour El Sherbini ranked World No.2 and Nour El Tayeb ranked World No.6.
Joining Egypt as a fancied team will be England, beaten finalists in 2018 and winners of this year’s European Team Championship. Since the 2-0 defeat to Egypt in China, England have added a number of young and dangerous players to the squad, including Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Georgina Kennedy, who took the squash world by storm last year as she rose from World No.185 in May 2021 to World No.8 in July 2022.
Teams competing in Cairo:
The teams competing at the 2022 WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championships are:
Pictures courtesy of Scottish Squash and PSA World Tour