The second event on American soil this week is the Life Time City Centre Women’s International Squash Open, which takes place in Houston, Texas.
The Challenger 10 women’s event has restricted entries, with only those currently residing in either Canada, Mexico of the host nation, United States, being allowed to participate. However, despite this, there are still players from 11 different nationalities in the 24-strong draw.
Canada’s Nicole Bunyan, the World No.57, will be the top seed for the tournament, with four other members of the top 100 in the World Rankings also in action. USA’s Marina Stefanoni, Polish No.1 Karina Tyma, Malaysia’s Wen Li Lai and Pakistan’s Amna Fayyaz will all be aiming for glory as well.
Bulgaria, England, France, India, Singapore and Ukraine are also represented, with seven of the 11 nationalities amongst the tournament’s top eight seeds this week.
Bunyan, the top seed, will be playing on the Challenger Tour for the first time in over 14 months, but she is looking to bring her experiences of the major events, after appearances at the CIB Egyptian Open, CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open and El Gouna International Squash Open this season, into this week’s tournament.
“Since the Black Ball Open earlier this year, I’ve been able to get a solid, focused, training block in, which has been great,” the Canadian admitted.
“Before the pandemic I’d been injured on and off for a couple years, which was frustrating , so I am even more appreciative now of an uninterrupted training period! Overall, my game and my body feels pretty good, and it’ll be great to test it out this week by hopefully getting a few consecutive matches under my belt!
“The big tournaments are great experience to expose any and all of your weaknesses, and see how your improvements hold up under the highest pressure! I’ve learned a lot about what I can improve mentally, tactically, and technically, and I hope that some of those improvements come through this weekend!
Bunyan has closed in on the top 50 in the World Rankings, moving to a career-high of World No.57 for the month of June. The Canadian says that making that mark is her next goal in the game.
“[The] top 50 is definitely the next goal. It’s a mark I’ve wanted to achieve for some time now, and just haven’t been able to put together the consistent and big results necessary to break through. There’s no easy way to get to top 50, you really have to improve your level to earn your wins, and that’s what I’m focused on now!” she explained.
“I think the extra perceived pressure of being the top is a good thing, as I find it forces you to sharpen up mentally. I’m also aware there won’t be any easy matches at any stage of the event, so while I’ll back myself to win, I certainly won’t be getting overconfident!”
The event takes place from Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 June at the Life Time City Center in Houston, where Nicole Bunyan is the top seed for the tournament. Follow the PSA Challenger Tour on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates from the event.
First Round Draw: Life Time City Centre Women’s International Squash Open
 Nicole Bunyan (CAN) – [Bye]
[WC] Ariyan Irani (USA) v [9/16] Selena Georgieva (BUL)
[9/16] Margot Prow (ENG) v [WC] Deborah Shriver (USA)
 Alina Bushma (UKR) – [Bye]
 Arisha Khan (USA) – [Bye]
[WC] Zaina Zaidi (USA) v [9/16] Kriti Muthu (IND)
[9/16] Hannah Blatt (CAN) v [WC] Hana Cochinwala (USA)
 Wen Li Lai (MAS) – [Bye]
 Karina Tyma (POL) – [Bye]
[WC] Amita Sarna (USA) v [9/16] Sneha Sivakumar (SGP)
[9/16] Vanessa Raj (MAS) v [WC] Zahrah Iqbal (USA)
 Julia Le Coq (FRA) – [Bye]
 Amna Fayyaz (PAK) – [Bye]
[WC] Noor Naseem (USA) v [9/16] Yana Sharma (USA)
[9/16] Anika Sarna (USA) v [WC] Ameera Saadat (USA)
 Marina Stefanoni (USA) – [Bye]