‘I enjoyed the whole week in Alabama and especially the closing ceremony which starred Lionel Ritchie’
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
With the Commonwealth Games approaching fast, and young women like Gina Kennedy and Lucy Turmel preparing to make their tournament debuts, I felt it was time to catch up Lucy Beecroft, who has just won the silver medal at the World Games at a different Birmingham venue, the one in Alabama, USA.
That medal will be inspiring Lucy to a big push next season as every player hopes that the tournament calendar will return to normality after the challenges of the past two years caused by the pandemic.
As well as the silver in Alabama, Lucy was runner-up to Jasmine Hutton in the British Nationals in Manchester, reaching the final after an epic comeback win over Lucy Turmel in the semi-finals.
Now based in America, former Yale student Lucy enjoyed catching up with a lot of friends in Alabama as she powered through to the final.
11 POINTS WITH LUCY BEECROFT
1: Lucy, congratulations on winning the silver medal at the World Games. You had a good win over USA’s Haley Mendez in the semi-finals before meeting Tinne Gilis in the final.
Lucy: Thank you! It was a great week representing GB! Haley is a good friend of mine, so it wasn’t easy coming up against her in the semi-final, but I was very happy with how I played and to make another final.
2: Tinne is now 13 in the world. What lessons did you learn from that match?
Lucy: Tinne is a great player and we have known each other for a long time as we are a similar age. She has had an amazing season, reaching her highest world ranking and winning a number of events.
I really enjoyed the final and it definitely showed the level of physicality that the women’s game is being played at right now. Tinne is one of the fittest and quickest girls on tour, so it felt like I was having to win the point three, four, five times before actually winning it (or not!).
I was happy with how I played but it definitely highlighted the areas of my game I need to keep working on and I’m excited to do so over the summer.
3: Please tell us about the whole experience in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m guessing there may have been a few college reunions!
Lucy: I’d never been to Alabama, or anywhere that far south in the US, and I’d never heard of some of the other sports that were participating in the World Games, so it was definitely a new experience!
It was really cool to be involved in the Games and to be a part of the wider Team GB with the other British athletes.
Charlie Johnson, who is coaching in San Francisco, came over as the GB coach, so it was great to have him in my corner for the week!
The closing ceremony was probably a highlight of the week, it was great to walk into the stadium full of people with the other athletes. There were a lot of great performances and it was closed out by Lionel Ritchie!
4: Please tell us about the highlights of your time at Yale in America.
Lucy: I absolutely loved my four years at Yale. Being able to combine a top level of squash with studying was perfect for my transition into professional squash.
Some highlights include captaining the women’s team in my senior year to a third place finish in the team national championships, which was our highest finish in 10-plus years, and making friendships with so many people from such different backgrounds and with such different interests.
My time at Yale really broadened my perspective on a lot of things and allowed me to develop new interests and passions.
5: I understand your plans were put on hold by the pandemic and hope you are now able to see a clearer future ahead.
Lucy: Yes, definitely. I graduated in 2020 and planned to play professionally, but didn’t actually play my first professional event until June of 2021 due to the pandemic.
I was very fortunate to get a sports scholarship at the University of Nottingham to do a part-time master’s degree, which gave me something to focus on when there were no events to play in. I am still completing this now and should be done with it by September this year.
I was still able to train throughout the pandemic and was very eager to get going on the PSA tour once tournaments resumed. I was ranked around 365 in the rankings so it was tough to get into anything, but I persevered and got a couple of lucky breaks and I am very pleased to now be at my highest ranking of 54.
6: What are your plans for next season?
Lucy: I am very excited for next season and have recently been setting goals for what I want to achieve. I am looking to push on and continue to move up the rankings so I am able to comfortably get into the platinum and higher ranked events and compete against the top female players in the world.
7: Where is home for you now?
Lucy: I am currently living back in the US, just outside of Washington D.C. in Northern Virginia. I also spend some time up in Philadelphia as my coach is based there.
8: How often are you able to get back to the North East of England?
Lucy: I try to get back home as much as I can, especially if there are events in the UK or in Europe and I can have a few days at home before or after. I am spending all of August there as I am soon going to an aunt for the second time, so I’m excited to be back and to spend time with family and my new baby nephew.
9: You finished college around the same time as Gina Kennedy. Will you be able to watch her in action in the Commonwealth Games next week? You must be impressed by the way Gina has climbed to eight in the world?
Lucy: Of course! Gina is a good friend and I’ll definitely be supporting her and the other English players who are playing next week. The Commonwealth Games is such a prestigious event for squash players and to be selected to play is a huge goal of mine for the future.
Absolutely. Gina has always been a fantastic player and athlete and I’m not surprised she has broken into the top 10 within her first season. Her athleticism is incredible and I’m sure she is just going to keep climbing.
10: Reaching the British Nationals was a huge achievement, especially that amazing comeback in the semi-finals against Lucy Turmel!
Lucy: Yes, reaching the final of the British Nationals was definitely a highlight of my season. It was great to play a big tournament in England and have my parents there watching.
My win in the semi-final against Lucy Turmel was my best win on paper to date and I was proud of how I continued to fight despite being 2-0 and 10-7 down!
Representing England at senior level is a big goal of mine so it was good to put in some good performances in front of the England coaches.
11: You have a loyal sponsor in Joel Shields from 305 Squash. Who else would you like to a give a shout-out to?
Lucy: Joel is the best! He has been such a great friend and sponsor since I was a junior player. There was a bit of a break when I was at Yale but there was no question that I would always be a 305 player when I graduated and turned professional!
I have recently started using the new rackets too, which I love, and I’m very proud to be 305 from head to toe! There is definitely a long list of people that I owe a big thanks to, including my other sponsors: Expression Networks, Squash Revolution and The Bristol Group.
The University of Nottingham have been a great support over the last two years and have done a lot to help me, as well as Tynemouth Squash Club, my home club where I grew up playing.
Thank you, Lucy. Congratulations on your performances in Manchester and Alabama and we look forward to seeing you continue to climb the rankings next season!
Pictures courtesy of Lucy Beecroft, 305 Squash, England Squash and World Squash