Number two seed Jenny Duncalf is pleased to see the Allam British Open back on the calendar, and she has a radical idea for the women’s game: to join the men in playing with a 17-inch tin. She also has some strong views on squash and the Olympics.
INTERVIEW BY ALAN THATCHER
1: How did you enjoy your filming in the London Eye?
It was great! Whoever thought of it deserves a pat on the back for their imagination. To showcase the sport in dramatic settings like that is what is going to help take squash forward and hopefully it will trigger other exciting ideas for promotional events!
Happiness and relief I think. To have gone without it for two years has been a real shame for squash as it is such a prestigious event and at the top of most players’ wish list so to have it back at such a high level is brilliant news for everyone.
3: What are your favourite memories of the British Open?
I remember travelling to Cardiff to watch when I was younger and bugging all the players for their autographs. Think I sneaked into the players area at one point too and Michelle Martin told me I shouldn’t be there…I didn’t mind, though. I was just so excited she’d spoken to me!
It’s been a bit up and down to be honest this year as I’ve been struggling with a few niggles but my training has gathered momentum over the past few weeks and I feel in as good a shape as I have for a while now.
5: Where do you do most of your training?
Mainly at Harrogate squash club, but also at Chapel Allerton in Leeds and Queens in Halifax.
6: How do you formulate a plan to beat someone as successful Nicol David?
You keep trying! Obviously there aren’t too many stand-out weaknesses as Nicol is such a great player but you have to try and take something from each game to work on for the next. For me the hardest part is actually sticking to the plan once on court!
That it goes by very quickly so to make the most of it while you can and never take the lifestyle we have for granted. I think it’s important to remember how lucky we are to be doing something we love for a living and always try to stay positive about things, even if the results haven’t been coming. Enjoy it, basically!
8: How has your approach to training and playing evolved during that time?
I’d say my training is a lot more rounded these days as opposed to my early days when I just wanted to be on court hitting balls & playing games all the time. Nowadays it’s spread between strength and conditioning, core stability, rehab/prehab exercises etc as well as varied on-court work, and hopefully that comes through in the way I play now.
I’d personally like to see it gather pace as the Men’s tour has been doing. Unfortunately I feel we are being left behind a little bit at the moment and with the product we have this shouldn’t be the case. The strength in depth at the moment is the best it has been since I started and I really think we can deliver women’s squash successfully if we just had the platforms to do it from. Let’s start with The Allam British Open!
I also think it would be good to bring the 17-inch tin into the women’s game.
10: How do we get more girls to play squash?
By making them aware of the sport first, I think. All kids love squash once they try it. It’s just a case of getting them on to court! Things like filming in the London Eye, going into schools with rackets and balls, having interactive games at big events etc are all ways to create awareness. There are so many other games and hobbies for kids to choose from these days that I think it’s a case of taking the sport to them as opposed to just hoping they’ll show up at a junior morning.
Horrible! I have all sorts of feelings tangled up inside every time I see anything to do with The Olympics which make me just want to scream sometimes! The unjustness of it all, the hypocrisy of it all…the IOC spouts about ‘Olympic ideals’ when squash in itself would be a beacon of such values yet is overlooked. Frustrating to say the least!
I just hope that we can keep pushing and showcasing our sport so that one day someone will wake up and realise that squash was made for the Olympics (..and maybe I can sneak in as a doubles player or something!).
Jenny, thank you for sharing some entertaining, enlightening and provocative thoughts. Good luck this week!