Sarah-Jane Perry is justifiably proud of her achievements in a fabulous February, when she won her first British national title and the most lucrative WSA tournament of her career at the $25,000 Granite Club Open in Canada – but she admits that victory in the Allam British Open would surpass those successes.
“The British Open is the most prestigious event on the calendar,” reasoned the 24-year-old from Warwickshire. “I saw how much it meant to Laura (Massaro) when she won, so it’s impossible for it not to be high on the priority list.
“It would be amazing to get my name on the trophy alongside so many legends of the game.”
So far the world no.16 from Kenilworth has not progressed beyond the second round in the ‘Wimbledon of squash’, but in 2013 she pushed Australian veteran Kasey Brown to five games and last year came within a whisker of snatching a game off eight-time world champion Nicol David.
“I’ve lost in the last 16 the past two years and had a couple of chances to change that, but didn’t quite make it,” Perry recalled.
“I’ll just be taking it one match at a time; there are no easy draws, no easy opponents, so it will be tough from the word go.”
The difference this time is that she will enter the World Series event knowing she can beat the top players, having overcome the world nos.3 (Massaro), 5 (Alison Waters), 10 (Amanda Sobhy) and 13 (Dipika Pallikal) this month.
“I spoke to my coach, Steve Townsend, as well as the Sports Psychologist and Performance Lifestyle Advisor and picked apart what needed sorting out and how I was going to go about making it happen.
“Thankfully, everything clicked for the later rounds of the Nationals and I managed to keep that confidence pushing forward to Granite Club.
“It always feels good beating someone who has had the drop on you previously and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in recent weeks, winning the two titles but also developing as a player.”
Her next target is to better her career-best world ranking of 14 – first recorded in October 2013 – and to break into the top 10.
“I’ve been hovering between 14 and 18 in the rankings for a while now, so I’m really looking to get these results consistently and get in the magic top 10,” she said.
“Competition is so tough in the women’s game currently, so it won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. But mainly I’ll be looking for the performances against the higher-ranked players…and the ranking should follow!”