Interview by RJ Mitchell
PSA World Tour catches up with Scotland’s Lisa Aitken to catch up with her after a whirlwind J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions trip.
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Scotland’s World No.54 Lisa Aitken has revealed that a coach ride from New York to Delaware was all it took to bring her back to earth with a bang after her heroics competing in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Terminal at the weekend.
Aitken was called in as a last minute injury replacement for ToC, arriving in New York from Edinburgh at 4pm before making her debut appearance in a PSA World Tour Platinum event just 26 hours later in a “whirlwind' week.
But in defeating Nada Abbas in five, after saving match ball in the fourth game on Friday, Aitken proved she was cut out for the biggest tournaments and was back in action under the chandeliers of the Vanderbilt Hall two days later – this time going down battling against world No.3 Nour El Tayeb.
Less than 48 hours later Aitken was on Greyhound bound for the CSC Delaware Open where she is the No.4 seed and will face Switzerland's Nadia Pfister tomorrow evening and Lisa admitted: “The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest. Really it's almost been a case of planes, trains and automobiles!
“Playing on the glass court in ToC has always been an ambition of mine and one I wasn't sure I was ever going to fulfil it. With me being sixth on the reserve list I figured there wasn't much danger of a call, but when I got it last Thursday I had no hesitation in saying yes.
“Obviously being on court the next day after you've had two flights to get to New York is tough, but I was just determined to give it my best shot against Nada. That said things didn't exactly go as I had hoped and I found myself 2-1 and 10-7 match ball down.
“But I had been in a similar situation in Helsinki before Christmas and that gave me belief and I kept calm stuck with it and dug out the 'W' and I must admit winning my first ever match, from match-ball down, in Grand Central Terminal will stay with me forever.
“Then to face the world No.3 in my next match was unbelievable. To be honest I maybe let the whole situation get to me in the second when Nour fed me a bagel, but I regrouped in the third and the experience I picked up from that game was invaluable.
“Although it's now back to reality. Looking out my frozen hotel window on Monday morning knowing your off to Delaware the next day was a reality check, as was the four hour coach ride, but the whole experience of playing ToC is something I really want more of and my motivation has never been higher.”
Aitken reached a career high of No.38 before being struck down with the debilitating Dengue Fever in 2014 but has bounced back with a vengeance and in December was the PSA Ladies Player of the month after winning back-to-back titles in Italy and Finland.
Something the modest Scottish No.1 lady is rightly proud of: “I think I was lucky in that there wasn't a lot of tournament action on the main PSA World Tour just before Christmas but I worked really hard to win in Italy and Helsinki and I'm really proud to have been PSA Ladies Player of the Month for December.
She continued: “But what matters most now is that I use the experiences of playing against the likes of Nour El Tayeb to back up what I achieved before Christmas in Delaware over the next few days. I just can't afford to waste that.”