INTERVIEW by RJ Mitchell
Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans discusses her aims for the second-half of the season and how she wants to keep climbing up the World Rankings.
Tesni Evans may have already created history by becoming the highest ever ranked Welsh female squash player, when she reached a career high of World No.9 earlier this season, but she is determined to continue her assault on the summit of the women's game in 2019.
The 26 year-old defeated World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open to book a first ever semi-final spot in a PSA Platinum event that firmly announced Evans as a clear and present danger to the game's elite women players.
Then followed that up last weekend with a run to the final of the Monte Carlo Classic where she lost an epic five-game final to former World Champion Laura Massaro, with the Englishwoman's big game experience seeing her hone in 68 minutes after Evans had twice fought back from a game down.
But with January's J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York next up for the Welsh No.1 Evans has revealed in an exclusive interview with PSA World Tour that her Christmas training block will be crucial to her hopes of hitting her peak in in the new year.
“My big target at the start of the season was to break into the top 10, but now I have achieved that there is no way I want to stop there and rest on my laurels,” said Evans.
“I know there are parts of my game I will have to improve to keep climbing the rankings as there is a big leap to get into the top eight and then another one to make the top five, but the key to that will be hard work.
“After making the final at the Monte Carlo Classic last week it's been great to come back home to St Asaph in Wales but although it's good to be back to catch up with family and friends this is a really important time to build for the second-half the season.
“I am coached by my dad Andrew and by David Evans, the former World No.3 and if I am to kick-on in the second-half of the season then I must make some sacrifices this Christmas. It's vital I make the most of the training block I have over the next few weeks before returning to competition for the Tournament of Champions in New York later in January.
“That said I'm chuffed to be at a career high of number nine and really excited about the second-half of the season and especially the World Championships in Chicago because that's where I want to be peaking.”
Evan's new found status has seen her eclipse Tegwen Malik's previous Welsh best career high World No.16 ranking back in 2000 and the Welsh No.1 admits that experiences like her narrow defeat at the hands of Massaro at the weekend are crucial in continuing to improve her squash.
She said: “There is no denying Laura's quality and what she has achieved in the game and she really used her experience to good effect in the fifth set, but matches like that will only help me develop and progress on my own journey as a player.
“We have played quite a few times now, with some of those not on the Tour, but I do have two wins over Laura with the big one coming in the second round of the PSA World Championships but every time we meet it's tough as she gives you nothing.
“So although it would have been nice to bring down the curtain on the first-half the season with a title win I'm still really pleased to have made the final in Monte Carlo and to have beaten players of the class of Millie Tomlinson on the way to it.”
While Evans cites former World Champion Cassie Jackman as her squash style icon there is no doubt that she values the tight-knit team that she and dad Andrew have built around her as the key to her hopes of making 2019 her best year yet on the PSA World Tour.
The World No.9 said: “Probably the biggest influence on me growing up was Cassie Jackman. She played an exhibition with Sarah Fitz-Gerald at St Mellons, which was my squash club as a kid. I was seven or eight and I got some court time with her which was awesome and I always followed Cassie after that.
“But I owe so much to my dad Andrew, who has been coaching me since I was small and we have now built a really close team with David (Evans) also coaching me and the help of Mark Harris my fitness coach and Hamish our sports psychologist who has also made a massive difference to me, the people at Bangor University and of course everyone at my sponsors Karakal.
“I really couldn't have gotten to where I am without the help of all these people but I am determined to make sure that the best is still to come and hopefully in 2019 I can kick on.”