D Days
:
H Hours
:
M Min
until the 2018 Commonwealth Games commence.
Longines Time
April 4 to 15 2018

Tesni Evans is a rising star of Squash

Squash
18 Dec 2017

Tesni Evans drops her racquet to the floor in frustration. The rising squash star and Welsh medal hope for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has just been knocked out of the World Squash Championships at the quarter-finals stage, defeated 3-0 by the Egyptian, Nour El Tayeb. Frustration is written all over her face. Despite the heavy score line, Evans was a force in all three games losing 9-11, 7-11 and 9-11.  Her opponent was hardly given an easy ride.

“She’s a fighter and she’s very skilful,” says El Tayeb afterwards.

“She understands the game and how to move, and not a lot of players understand how to move their opponent and play them into the corners. And she doesn’t give up, even at two love down in the quarters of the World Championships she wasn’t giving up.”

These attributes should serve Evans well in the Gold Coast. Having been entered into all three squash events – the singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles – her game is on the rise. In the previous round in the World Squash Championships she dispatched the former World No.1, Laura Massaro.

“Anyone who can beat Massaro is a big thing,” says El Tayeb. “Very rarely do people beat her.” Evans is equally aware that there are excellent opportunities ahead, if she can improve her game in one or two key areas.

“I’ve been playing well in the last couple of weeks, and the last months even,” she says. “I’ll take a lot from this week, beating someone like Laura Massaro for the first time in a PSA (Professional Squash Association) event was massive for me, so I’ll take that forward and keep going and keep improving.

“There are a lot of areas I’m working on at the moment and one of them is to play at a higher pace, which I’ve been doing recently, but it’s about consistently doing that over a period of time, which all the top girls do. I’m dropping off at the end of games sometimes, just a little bit, so that’s a key issue for me to work on in the future. I hope I can still improve.”

Evans has a strong base from which to build her Commonwealth Games hopes. She made her debut in the competition in Glasgow 2014 where she was surprised by the scale of the occasion. “I was overawed by it a little,” she says. “I couldn’t believe all the other sports there, it was such a big event and there were so many people around and I took a lot from that. I’ll have a lot more experience going into the next one and (I’ll be) in a better position, seeding wise.”

Her results during the event were encouraging, though not quite enough to make the headlines. In the women’s doubles, Evans made a “very pleasing” position in the final eight; in the mixed doubles she made the final 16. “We had a rough draw and that was quite hard, and we were very new to the doubles.” Elsewhere, her singles performance only got her into the last 16. She admits to “struggling” in that part of the competition.

As the GC2018 Games looms into view, Evans has form and now experience to back her. She recently won a bronze medal in the 2017 WSF World Doubles, alongside her playing partner, Peter Creed. “A top four finish would be amazing,” she says. “I’m looking forward to the doubles.” The dream, however, would be a strong run in the singles competition.

“In all three I’m going to say I’m trying for a medal. There’s no point going otherwise," she says.

"So hopefully in the singles I’ll have a good crack at that. I have to say I prefer the singles because it’s what I do for a living, but I think the doubles is a really good competition. I think to play with someone else and have someone else on the court winning with you (makes) the doubles a hell of an event.”

The challenge will prove tough, however. When asked about the players who could stand in her way, she lists a raft of names, including “the English contingent” featuring Laura Massaro, the New Zealand player, Joelle King and Nicol David of Malaysia.

“The top eight girls in there are going to be really hard to beat, so I guess it’s going to be who’s prepared the best on the day,” she says, though her pre tournament looks set to stand her in good stead. Prior to arriving at the games, Evans will be attending a “holding camp” in New Zealand for training sessions.

“We’ll get some good practice in there,” she says. “I haven’t thought about what I’ll do when I’m in Australia though - hopefully I’ll get to the beach and enjoy the weather.  

“But you do feel like there’s a little bit more on it at the Commonwealth Games because there are so many other people around you. Obviously, when you come to the World Squash Championships and other events, we’re by ourselves, we’re just doing it for us. [The Commonwealth Games] is a less selfish environment, but I’m a big team player so I really enjoy it. And I enjoy the pressures, too.”

The singles squash competition will start on Thursday 5 April, with finals on Monday 9 April. The doubles competition starts on Tuesday 10 April with finals on Sunday 15 April. The memories will last, but tickets won't. Secure your tickets.

READ other squash features: 
Nicol David feature article - Still looking to dominate and win gold at GC2018.

Nick Matthew set to go out with a bang at GC2018

This article was produced by AMP Media.