Serme Subdues Perry to Set up Semifinal against Massaro; David and Waters Also Into Semis
Camille Serme overcame a frozen ear and a mid-match case of nerves to thwart Madeline Perry’s effort to unseat for the second time a higher seeded player at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal. Serme, who since August 2013 has lost only to world #1 Nicol David, admitted to being concerned going into the match because Perry held a 6-1 career record against her.
Walking the three blocks from the Westin Grand Central Hotel to the glass court in Grand Central Terminal in 15 degree weather without a hat, Serme said her ears had literally frozen by the time she arrived at the tournament venue. By match time, the ear had thawed and the Frenchwoman was sufficiently warmed up to take an early 5-1 lead in the first game, managing to maintain her edge to win the opener 11-8. The second game was all Serme, who took a 2-0 lead in the match by winning the game 11-4. In the third, the world #5 had three match balls at 10-7, and celebrated a premature victory on one of those when she gave a jubilant fist pump thinking she had hit a winner. But Perry ran the ball down and won the point. “I got nervous,” said Serme after the match. “It came in my mind that I had only beaten her once.” Perry snatched the game, 13-11, to stay alive in the match.
Perry had pulled off an improbable, come-from-behind victory after being down by a similar score in the opening round against third seed Raneem Welily. She thought she could do it again.
The world #5 had other plans. “I knew that I had to stick to my tactical plan,” Serme revealed. The plan, which had worked in the first two games, was to slow down the pace. “I did not want to give her any opportunities to hit the ball hard which she does so well. And I had to play my shots when I had the opportunity.” The agile and nimble French player executed her plan well and won the fourth game 11-5 to close out the match.
The “happy and relieved” 24-year-old, whose coach and trainer are in NYC for the championships, is thrilled to be in the ToC semifinals, as much because she is as eager to improve as she is to win. “It’s good to keep winning,” Serme said as she cooled down on the stationary bike after the match. “This way my coaches can see what I have to improve on.”
Serme’s semifinal opponent will be second seed Laura Massaro of England. A few millimeters and two tins by her opponent Joelle King were all that stood between the English #1 and a two game deficit. Kiwi King had played authoritative and confident squash to win the first game 11-9, and had game ball at 11-10 in the second. A drop shot from the #6 seed barely clipped the tin to even the game at 11 points each and Massaro managed to eke out the victory 13-11.
At the break between games, her husband and coach said, “Just relax, enjoy being out there.” Massaro, who acknowledged having a strong self-critical nature, took the advice to heart. “After all, I won’t be able to do this forever, so I should enjoy it while I can.” The difference when she got back on court was stunning. She won the third game 11-3 and the fourth 11-7.
Alison Waters earned her trip to the ToC semifinals when she ended the run of qualifier Sarah-Jane Perry with an efficient and never-in- doubt victory, 11-5,11-6,11-2 . “The key to the match was making sure that I stayed in front and didn’t allow SJ to play her shots,” said the fourth seed.
Waters should be fresh for semifinal match given that her match time for the two opening rounds combined totaled less than an hour. The English #2 will probably need as much energy as she can muster as she will be taking on top seed Nicol David who defeated countrywoman Low Wee Wern in three games.
The world #1 had another busy NYC day. She participated in a photo shot with men’s world #1 Nick Matthew for the announcement of their appointment as official Laureus Sport For Good Ambassadors. She also attended the ToC Inaugural Women’s Leadership Luncheon honoring former WSA player, Natalie Grainger before returning to her hotel to prepare for her evening match. None of these activities distracted the Malasyian superstar from the primary reason for her presence in New York City – to win the ToC trophy.
Super focused and finely tuned, Nicol defeated her younger countrywoman, 11-5, 11-3,11-4 for her 25th Tour match victory in a row since losing last May’s British Open final to Laura Massaro.
When asked if she ever gets bored with squash after so many years playing and being #1, David’s answer was an emphatic, ”No. I just get more and more into it, especially these last few years when I feel like I truly understand the game.”
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Women’s Quarterfinal Results –
A Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Gold event
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt.  Joelle King (NZL) 9-11, 13-11,11-3.11-7 52 mins
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt. Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-8, 11-4, 11-13, 11-8 52 mins
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt. [Q] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 11-5,11-6,11-2 28 mins
 Nicol David (MAS) bt.  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-5,11-3,11-4 32 mins
Men’s Quarterfinal Results
A Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series event
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt.  Daryl Selby (ENG) 8-11,11-7,11-5,11-8 60 mins
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt. Simon Rosner (GER) 12-10,11-6, 11-7 57 mins
Schedule of Play
Thursday, January 23, 2013
5:00 PM Women’s Semifinals
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v.  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nicol David (MAS) v.  Alison Waters (ENG)
7:30 PM Men’s Semifinals
 James Willstrop (ENG) v.  Amr Shabana (EGY)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v.  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY)