Moverley eager to crown comeback with British Open success

ON THE UP: Hull's Fiona Moverley. Picture kindly supplied by squashpics.com

ON THE UP: Hull's Fiona Moverley. Picture kindly supplied by squashpics.com

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WHILE most of the big names in squash have this weekend to rest up before the main draw of the British Open kicks into life in Hull, one local girl will be striving to make sure she will be joining them.

After admitting defeat and being unable to finance a professional squash career any longer, Hull-born Fiona Moverley reluctantly quit the sport in 2010 and spent the next four years overseeing sports events for primary and secondary schools.

But after the British Open made its debut in her hometown two years ago, an itch that had never gone away became considerably more uncomfortable, prompting the 28-year-old to quit her job and have a second attempt at trying to make life on the women’s WSA world tour work for her.

Part of that long road back to the world top 50, where she had been when she quit five years ago, saw her enter the pre-qualifying draw for the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ when it returned to Hull last year.

A 3-0 first round qualifying defeat to Australia’s Donna Urquhart ended any hope of reaching the main draw but, a year on her prospects are far brighter having leapt from the world No 211 spot she was given when returning to the game to now sit 55th in the rankings.

Having set herself three main aims at the start of this season – and achieved all of them already – Moverley hopes she can cap an outstanding comeback year by forcing her way into the first round proper on Tuesday.

“I had three targets in mind when I started back out,” said Moverley.

“One was to win a Tour title – I’ve managed to win two – another was to beat a top 30 player and I beat the then world No 19 (Halifax-based Sarah Kippax) at the British Nationals.

“I also wanted to get into the top 60 by June. So I’ve managed all three already and it is a good feeling knowing you’ve achieved the goals you set yourself.”

Having the British Open in her hometown once again only fuels Moverley’s determination to make sure she qualifies for the main draw when most of the action transfers to the glass show court at the Airco Arena.

She begins her quest tomorrow against New Yorker Olivia Blatchford, six years her junior and 19 places above her in the world rankings.

The two met only last month in the semi-finals of the Paderborn Open, when the American prevailed 3-1 after a gruelling hour-long battle.

Should Moverley triumph in the rematch at the University of Hull, she will then likely face an even tougher assignment against a higher seed the following day.

“Realistically, I know it’s going to be tough – I’ve got to beat two people ranked higher than me but, you never know what can happen,” she added.

“From when I played Olivia a few weeks ago, it’s literally just about finding that extra one per cent which would change that loss into a win come Sunday.

“The main objective is to qualify. That would be amazing to get in the main draw and play on that glass court – especially in front of a home crowd and my family and friends, that would be pretty special.”

And if she gets there, Moverley has another dream to fulfil as part of her comeback – sharing the same court as world 
No 1 Nicol David, the Malaysian superstar who has – quite staggeringly – remained top of the women’s rankings since January 2006 and who is scheduled to meet a qualifer in the first round.

“She’s been world No 1 for something ridiculous like nine years now or something,” said Moverley. “She’s just such a great athlete, a wonderful ambassador for the sport and such a lovely person too.

“She’s scheduled to draw a qualifier so if I get through to the main draw there’s a chance I could get drawn against her on the glass show court.

“That would be a couple of dreams come true at once.”

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