The Open de France – Nantes 2019 presented by Tailor Capital gets under way in four days and the SQUASHTV cameras will be on location to broadcast the action from Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, while footage will also be shown LIVE on Eurosport Player and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
The tournament – previously known as the Open International de Squash de Nantes – has upgraded to a PSA World Tour Silver event this season and features its strongest ever draw in addition to a record prize money total of $147,000.
It promises to be an exciting week in Nantes – to whet your appetite, we’re looking back at the story of last year’s women’s event.
Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Cindy Merlo (SUI) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-2 (27m)
Alison Thomson (SCO) bt Ali Hemingway (WAL) 3-1: 9-11, 11-0, 11-6, 11-7 (38m)
Kace Bartley (ENG) bt [WC] Julia Le Coq (FRA) 3-1: 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (36m)
Chloe Mesic (FRA) bt Riina Koskinen (FIN) 3-0: 11-3, 11-0, 11-6 (20m)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Hana Ramadan (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (50m)
Rachael Chadwick (ENG) bt Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7 (38m)
Milnay Louw (RSA) bt [WC] Marie Stephan (FRA) 3-2: 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-1 (37m)
Ineta Mackevica (LAT) bt Cristina Gomez (ESP) 3-0: 11-2, 11-5, 11-9 (23m)
Chloe Mesic was the only French player to book her second round berth as she produced a dominant display to defeat Finland’s World No.114 Riina Koskinen in straight games in just 20 minutes at the
Mesic’s fellow Frenchwoman Julia Le Coq and Marie Stephan fell to England’s Kace Bartley and South Africa’s Milnay Louw, respectively.
Elsewhere, Scotland’s Lisa Aitken overcame the challenge of 2016 champion Hana Ramadan to earn a spot on the glass court at Theatre Graslin, where her challenger would be top seed Emily Whitlock.
Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt  Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (32m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (34m)
 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Chloe Mesic (FRA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 (21m)
 Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt Kace Bartley (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (24m)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Alison Thomson (SCO) 3-0: 11-7, 12-10, 13-11 (34m)
 Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-2, 14-12, 11-6 (26m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-0: 14-12, 11-7, 11-1 (36m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt Milnay Louw (RSA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (23m)
Then 18-year-old Englishwoman Lucy Turmel upset No.5 seed Milou van der Heijden to become the only unseeded player in the women’s draw to reach the quarter-finals.
Her compatriots were also in winning form as Whitlock got the better of Aitken, while defending champion Fiona Moverley breezed past Louw in straight games.
2016 semi-finalist Julianne Courtice made it an English quartet in the last eight as she dispatched compatriot Bartley in a comfortable straight games win.
Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt  Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9 (49m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt  Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-1: 11-13, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9 (57m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-5 (32m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt  Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8 (35m)
Things got even better for Turmel as the then World No.65 battled to victory over then World No.30 Nadine Shahin to reach the biggest PSA semi-final.
Turmel was the youngest player competing at the tournament, but she put in a performance that belied her tender years as she played with confidence, condemning Shahin to 3-1 defeat.
Her reward was a last four clash with Whitlock, while Gilis and Moverley ensured that they would meet in a repeat of the 2017 final after Gilis beat South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller, while her younger sister, Tinne, went down in four games to Moverley.
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-5 (39m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-3 (43m)
Turmel’s giant-killing run finally came to an end at the semi-final stage as a controlled performance from Whitlock saw her limit her compatriot’s attacking potential.
A supremely accurate performance from Whitlock saw her win in straight games to set up a final clash with Gilis, who avenged her 2017 final defeat to Moverley to book her spot in the final.
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-2: 4-11, 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 (72m)
Gilis put in a powerful performance, as she came from 2-1 down to win a five-game thriller, winning the biggest title of her career in the process.
Whitlock didn’t put a foot wrong in the first game as she claimed the lead comfortably, winning 11-4. However, once Gilis had settled her nerves she put the 24-year-old Englishwoman under pressure to level the scores.
In the third it looked as though Whitlock’s quality was going to shine through as she edged ahead to take a 2-1 lead, but Gilis remained resilient and stuck to her game plan.
The Belgian pushed the match to an epic conclusion, taking the fourth on a tie-break, before eventually closing out an 4-11, 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 win in 72 minutes.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Gilis following her huge win.
“Id like to thank Emily for a great final, I really enjoyed the match and I’d really like to thank everyone that came to watch, the atmosphere was incredible. I remember last year how good it was and this year it was out of this world.
“I just told myself from the beginning to fight for each and every point. I just wanted to make the most of my time here in this amazing venue, so I just told myself to fight and not give up and make the most of this amazing venue and I did and I’m so happy.
“He [boyfriend Paul Coll] texted me after his match [the China Open final] and told me that I would be the one that would have to bring it home, so I won it for him.”