Natalie Grinham to Defend ToC Title Against Kasey Brown
Defending champion Natalie Grinham will play fellow Australian Kasey Brown in the finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Thursday evening on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal.
Brown, seeded third, earned her first trip to the Tournament of Champions final by playing steadfast and resolute squash to defeat top seed Madeline Perry in the semifinals. The 28-year-old Australian was remarkably consistent and patient as she consistently buried the ball deep in the back court in a clear effort to prevent Perry from playing her preferred game of volleying as much as possible. With Perry getting off to a particularly slow start, due in part to five strokes against her in the first game alone, Brown took the early lead by winning the first game 11-6.
Her confidence boosted by winning the first game, Brown added more offense to her game and started cutting off the ball with an attacking volley. She also added an effective lob when pulled up short to the front of the court. Brown won the second game 11-8.
The third game was a testament to Perry’s determination to get on the scoreboard as she raised her level of play to win the game, 11-8. Unfazed, Brown returned to the court and jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Maintaining her pace on the ball and her composure, Brown gave Perry no openings in the fourth game, which she won 11-6.
“It is extra special to for me to play here since I feel like this is home now,” said Brown, who has resided in Greenwich, Connecticut for the past four years and had her own cheering section in the stands.
Brown will play defending champion Natalie Grinham, who now plays under the Dutch flag, easily defeated her older sister Rachael in the evening’s first semifinal, 11-9, 11-2, 11-7. The most extraordinary thing about the Grinhams’ match was that not a single let was called.
The result of the sisters’ match may have been foretold by their very different responses when asked, at the conclusion of their quarterfinal matches, how each felt about playing the other.
Rachael said, “We never really had a sibling rivalry. The hardest thing about it is that you don’t want your sister to lose.”
Natalie, on the other hand, responded, “I know Rachael says it is not a big deal. But that could be because she had the winning edge on me for a long time and I am still trying to make up ground. ” For the record, after this semifinal result, Rachael is still ahead 14-10 in career match wins.
Natalie Grinham (NED) bt. Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 27 mins
Kasey Brown (AUS) bt. Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 60 mins