Two months ago, at the stunning Dubai Opera, England’s Laura Massaro finished her season on a high with victory at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
The 33-year-old’s season saw her clinch the China Open, NetSuite Open and British Open titles before her victory in Dubai and Massaro credits a conversation with her coach, David Pearson, following her defeat in the final of the Tournament of Champions to produce a strong showing at the end of the season.
Serme took the opening game in the final at New York’s Grand Central Terminal before Massaro’s renowned will and determination came to the fore. However, at 2-2 the Frenchwoman responded impressively to see out the win and Massaro admitted the honest conversation with her coach helped spur her on to success at World Series events.
“I probably had a conversation with DP after ToC, when I lost to Camille and I said: “I’m really not happy with my season so far,” said the 33-year-old.
“Obviously, it was really good to get the San Francisco and China titles but it wasn’t at the World Series level that you always want to do well at.
“DP was saying that I was maybe being a bit hard on myself in that the Women’s Tour is obviously really strong at the moment, so to go out and win the British Open in the way that I did was something I was really proud of because I basically got my backside kicked in Chicago by [Nouran] Gohar so I was really pleased with how I regrouped.
“I took a lot of that form into the World Series Finals so overall I’m really happy with my season even though it did get a bit shaky through the middle.”
At the British Open, Massaro overturned a 2-0 game deficit against World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the semi-final before going on to become the first Englishwoman since Janet Morgan in 1951 to lift the prestigious title twice when she beat England teammate Sarah-Jane Perry and the 33-year-old admitted that game gave her a mental edge for the remainder of the season.
“There was only the World Championships after that and then the World Series Finals, so I think that gave me a lot of belief.
“It was tough going into the World Championships after winning the British. I got a little bit sick as well so obviously that made it harder and I was disappointed with a quarter final finish but aside from that, getting that win against Nour in the British Open stood me in good stead, mentally more than anything, for the World Series Finals especially having to play her twice in the space of three days.”
With competition on the Women’s Tour tougher than ever before, Massaro is constantly striving for improvement and believes that she has been playing some of her best squash of late.
“I think the Women’s Tour is the strongest it’s been since I’ve been on Tour in terms of depth more than anything.
“When I came on Tour there were two or three that were really strong at the top – Sarah Fitzgerald, Cassie Jackman, Carol Owens were all at the top of the game and then that sort of took over with Nicol [David] and Natalie and Rachael Grinham for a significant period of time and then I think it’s now really changed where there are seven or eight of us who can really win World Series events. Then below that there is also a lot of people who are challenging us for those spots as well.
“I think the level of women’s squash is really high. It’s obviously hard to compare because of the change in score and change of the tin, but in terms of how I feel that I’ve had to move my game on, not just since first coming on Tour but within the last couple of years. I think the women’s game has to be stronger because I think I’m playing better than I have done before and I’m still sitting at fourth in the world.
“I definitely think it’s the strongest it’s been, particularly in depth, but also in the way that we are playing the game and I think it’s hugely exciting.”