The Open des Bretzels is the biggest event taking place in Europe on the Challenger Tour this week, with the Challenger 10 level women’s event being held in Mulhouse, France.
The tournament, which was originally scheduled for earlier in the year before being postponed, allows cross-border participation. That meant that players residing in Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland could all enter.
Due to those limitations, seven nations will be represented at Mulhouse Squash Club this week, with several recent winners on the Challenger Tour featuring, in Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo, Hungary’s Hannah Chukwu and Germany’s Saskia Beinhard.
The top seed for the Challenger 10 level tournament will be France’s Enora Villard, who lost out in the final of the Swiss Open to Merlo last week. The World No.48 will face stiff competition from Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica, Czech No.1 Anna Serme, and Merlo once again.
We spoke to the Latvian this week ahead of the tournament, and she is continuing to fly the flag for her country, as the only professional squash player from her nation.
I know I have all the support from people watching and following me back home, but at the same time I have to fight my own battle and make my own decisions,” she said.
“I am based in Germany now, so I don’t really get much comments on a daily basis about my performance from them. The only pressure I feel is to win important matches and events that might help to advertise squash in Latvia more. I find that important and really want the media back home to talk more about squash, but it’s a long shot for me to achieve that stage (improve my ranking and win some events), but there is no doubt – I’m going for it!”
Mackevica currently sits at World No.54, in her highest ever position in the World Rankings. Her next goal is to make it inside the top 50 for the first time.
“I feel like I have been training well lately (taken the circumstances of ongoing pandemic). It took a while to find the right load and balance of training since the tournaments now happen so rarely and training possibilities are limited, but I think I am in a good place right now. This tournament will show! Most importantly, I am injury free and ready to give it my best!” Mackevica explained.
“I know I can battle with top 50 players and beat quite a few of them. I have the attributes I need to get into the top 50, just the consistency hasn’t been there yet.
“I hope tournaments like Open des Bretzels can help me to get my consistency in order and perform at my best every single time I step on the court! Once I have that confidence and experience I see myself climbing up the rankings.”
First Round Draw: Open des Bretzels
 Ineta Mackevica (LAT) – [Bye]
Nimon Lemarchand (FRA) v [9/16] Stella Kaufmann (SUI)
[9/16] Yuna Loaec (FRA) v Saskia Beinhard (GER)
 Cristina Gomez (ESP) – [Bye]
 Nadia Pfister (SUI) – [Bye]
Ella Galova (FRA) v [9/16] Taba Taghavi (FRA)
[9/16] Hannah Chukwu (HUN) v Mahe Asensi (FRA)
 Anna Serme (CZE) – [Bye]
 Cindy Merlo (SUI) – [Bye]
Noa Romero (ESP) v [9/16] Lea Barbeau (FRA)
[9/16] Alina Poessl (SUI) v Katerina Tycova (GER)
 Marie Stephan (FRA) – [Bye]
 Sofia Mateos (ESP) – [Bye]
Ana Munos (FRA) v [9/16] Aylin Gunsav (GER)
[9/16] Elise Romba (FRA) – [Bye]
 Enora Villard (FRA) – [Bye]