The first Challenger Tour event of 2022 gets underway on Wednesday, January 26 with the Equinox Sports Club in Boston, Massachusetts, playing host to the Challenger 10 level Equinox Women’s Boston Open.
The tournament will be the first of the year on the Tour, and the first since the CM Punjab International Open came to a conclusion on December 31, when Tayyab Aslam claimed the last victory of 2021.
There will be twelve nationalities represented in the tournament, which will see England’s World No.25 Lucy Turmel as the top seed, with a trio of Hong Kong women, in Tze Lok Ho, Liu Tsz-Ling and Tsz-Wing Tong as the other members of the top four seeds.
England’s Julianne Courtice and Lily Taylor, along with Frenchwoman Marie Stephan and Polish No.1 Karina Tyma, who won twice on American soil in 2021, make up the rest of the top eight seeds, who will all receive a bye through to the second round of the competition.
The only home hope in the 24-strong draw this week will be World No.91 Lucie Stefanoni, and she believes that she is in a good vein of form coming into the tournament.
“I feel I am playing well. I have been training a lot and also have been fortunate to have been able to compete recently in some high-level tournaments,” she explained.
Stefanoni has only featured three times on Tour prior to this event, but two of those were at majors on home soil. She made her debut on Tour at the PSA World Championships, before also playing at the U.S. Open presented by Truist later in the year, and those experiences have set her up well for this event.
“It was amazing to play in Chicago for the World Championships and at the incredible new Arlen Specter Center for the US Open. I got to play fast-paced matches and high quality squash. It was the best learning experience getting to play with the pros. As a junior player, I look forward to playing more professional tournaments and keep trying to improve my game,” the American explained.
“This is a great tournament and it will be exciting to play in Boston with so many good players. I feel the best way to improve is to play pro players as I can learn so much from each match.”
Stefanoni will be the only American in the field, and she admits that after being successful at the I Junior Pan American Games in Cali-Valle, Colombia, she is hoping to do the same this week under the American flag.
At the Games in Colombia, she was alongside older sister Marina, the current World No.66, and Lucie admits that she has always been a big part of her life, and someone that has made her work even harder.
“I love representing the US and will try my hardest in Boston as the sole American! I recently represented the USA at the Inaugural U23 Pan Am Games in Cali, Colombia and we won Gold in the team event for the US, so that was fantastic,” she said.
“Marina has always been a big part of my squash life and not only has it been great to share the experiences with her, but she has made me a better player. I miss having her at junior tournaments now that she is in college, but I hope that having me aim to move up in the pro rankings motivates her too!”
Action from Boston will be streamed throughout the week on the SZK Squash YouTube channel.
First Round Draw: Equinox Women’s Boston Open
 Lucy Turmel (ENG) – [Bye]
Anna Kimberley (ENG) v [9/16] Amna Fayyaz (PAK)
[9/16] Nardine Garas (EGY) v Akanksha Salunkhe (IND)
 Julianne Courtice (ENG) – [Bye]
 Marie Stephan (FRA) – [Bye]
[WC] Noureen Khalifa (EGY) v [9/16] Ali Loke (WAL)
[9/16] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) v Sachika Balvani (IND)
 Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) – [Bye]
 Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) – [Bye]
Margot Prow (ENG) v [9/16] Kaitlyn Watts (NZL)
[9/16] Lucie Stefanoni (USA) v Sohaila Omar (EGY)
 Lily Taylor (ENG) – [Bye]
 Karina Tyma (POL) – [Bye]
Hannah Blatt (CAN) v [9/16] Diana Garcia (MEX)
[9/16] Lucy Beecroft (ENG) – [Bye]
 Tze Lok Ho (HKG) – [Bye]