The Challenger Tour returns to the United States this week, with the Assurance Financial Austin South Squash Open taking place from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Challenger 10 event, held at Life Time Austin South, was restricted to cross-border participation, with only players living in Canada and Mexico being allowed to play.
Due to the diversity of the United States, eight nationalities will be represented in the draw, with three of those amongst the top four seeds. Alfredo Avila is one of six Mexicans in the draw, and the World No.65 will be the top seed for the event.
The American duo of Christopher Gordon and Faraz Khan are joined by England’s Lyell Fuller in the top four seeds, while the likes of Botswana, Colombia, France, Malaysia and Pakistan are also represented in the tournament.
World No.92 Spencer Lovejoy will be the No.5 seed for the event. The American has been in good form coming into this event, having reached at least the quarter-finals in his last five tournaments, including two runner-up finishes.
We spoke to Lovejoy ahead of the tournament, and he believes he is ready to bring his ‘A’ game to Austin.
“I feel like I am coming into the Austin South Open this week playing solid squash. I have been back home in New Haven training hard on court with my coach, Lynn Leong, and off court with my strength and conditioning coach, Corey Berrios, since the last 10k event in San Antonio,” he explained.
“I feel like I have gotten a good rhythm. I feel confident, fit, and ready to play my best squash in Texas. It was great to make those two finals this year, especially during a time that has been quite challenging for all of us.
“I think in order to win my next title, I have to believe that I can win and play consistently good squash throughout the entire event. I need to avoid having mental lapses and I need to push myself to maintain a high level of focus and attention to detail when on court.”
Lovejoy is the No.5 seed for the tournament, behind a couple of compatriots, along with top seed Alfredo Avila. However, he admits that he does not bother with seedings much, stating that he has to believe he can beat anyone.
“I try not to pay too much attention to the seedings of the draw. Like I said, In order to win my next title, I have to believe that I can beat everyone in the draw,” the American explained.
“My goal is to play my best quality squash, stay focussed on my strategy and game plan as best as possible, and to stay in the moment. If I do these things well, I think I have a good shot of winning any match in this draw.
“Breaking the top 100 in the rankings was a big milestone, but the next step I think is to reach the top 50. I’ve lost to a few players in the last couple tournaments who were ranked right around there, and it gave me a taste of what that level is like and what I need to improve to get there. I have been working on those things while back home and I think I’m making progress.”
First Round Draw: Assurance Financial Austin South Squash Open
 Alfredo Avila (MEX) – [Bye]
Nick Sutcliffe (ENG) v [9/16] Jorge Gomez (MEX)
[9/16] Allan Nunez (MEX) v Armando Olguin (MEX)
 Asyraf Azan (MAS) – [Bye]
 Timothy Brownell (USA) – [Bye]
[WC] Sebastian De La Vega (USA) v [9/16] Miled Zarazua (MEX)
[9/16] Alister Walker (BOT) v [WC] Marco DiFilippo (USA)
 Lyell Fuller (ENG) – [Bye]
 Faraz Khan (USA) – [Bye]
Vandrick Inman-Benavente (USA) v [9/16] Lucas Rousselet (FRA)
[9/16] Matias Knudsen (COL) v Salman Rafique (USA)
 Mark Broekman (USA) – [Bye]
 Spencer Lovejoy (USA) – [Bye]
[WC] Haidar Jafry (USA) v [9/16] Abdul Malik Khan (PAK)
[9/16] Juan Carlos Gomez (MEX) v Labeeb Ali (USA)
 Christopher Gordon (USA) – [Bye]