Nineteen-year-old Welsh player Tesni Evans has been handed the most difficult assignment in world squash after easing past Melbourne’s Selena Shaikh 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 in final qualifying at the HI-TEC Australian Open in Canberra on Tuesday.
Evans, who has taken her world ranking from 94 to 50 in the past 12 months, was one of eight women to make the main draw and stay in the hunt for the Heather McKay Cup. But to progress any further Evans will have to overcome the defending champion and the reigning queen of world squash Nicol David of Malaysia.
Australia’s Sarah Cardwell also made the main draw but not before a tough fight against fellow countrywoman Larissa Huffer.
Playing on the glass court in the Royal Theatre, Cardwell started well against a nervous Huffer, who only returned to squash at the beginning of the year after a promising junior career.
Huffer recovered to take the second game but Cardwell claimed the next two to win the match 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3 and move into a clash with Englishwoman Emma Beddoes.
“Larissa’s got all the shots, I remember watching her in juniors and so I knew I would have to play well to win today,” Cardwell, whose mother Vicki won the title eight times, said.
Cardwell was the only Australian to make it through to the main draw after Jessica Turnbull lost to Kiwi Kylie Lindsay, Jennifer Brown went down to Scotland’s Lisa Aitken and Brazilian Thaisa Serafini beat Vanessa Pickerd.
Serafini, who has been in Australia for the past month playing on the Australian Squash Tour, said she liked playing on the glass court.
“I think I like it, I felt really comfortable out there,” she said. “I’ve played a few times in Brazil on a glass court and I like it.“
I came yesterday and had a practice on it. At first it’s a little bit hard to see the ball but then you forget about where you are.
”Serafini will have at least one more match on the glass court when she plays third seed Laura Massaro of England on Wednesday.
Lindsay takes on Australian Donna Urquhart, Aitken is up against former champion Annie Au of Hong Kong, New Zealand’s Amanda Landers-Murphy faces Frenchwoman Camille Serme, Indian Joshna Chinappa plays second seed Jenny Duncalf and Czech Olga Ertlova takes on 2009 champion Joelle King of New Zealand.
Ertlova was in great touch as she demolished Frenchwoman Chloe Mesic 11.2, 11-2 11-7.
“The first two games went really well, but I lost my rhythm in the third a bit,” Ertlova said.
“But I felt good on the court, I moved well and I was hitting the ball really well.”
Kylie Lindsay (NZL) bt Jessica Turnbull (AUS) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
Sarah Cardwell (AUS) bt Larissa Huffer (AUS) 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3
Olga Ertlova (CZE) bt Chloe Mesic (FRA) 11-2, 11-2 11-7
Thaisa Serafini (BRA) bt Vanessa Pickerd (AUS) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Selena Shaikh (AUS) 11-4, 11-7, 11-4
Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 11-7, 4-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Jennifer Brown (AUS) 11-3, 11-5, 11-2
Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Megan Craig (NZL) 14-12, 12-10, 11-4