By: Nadeem Faisal Baiga

The first non-European tournament of 2021 takes place this week with the Sandgate Open, a women’s Challenger 10 event, being held in Queensland, Australia.

Like all the events on the Challenger Tour at the moment, this tournament is restricted. Only players currently residing in the island nation were allowed to enter.

Two of the members of Australia’s team at the 2018 WSF Women’s World Squash Team Championships will be in action, in No.2 seed Sarah Cardwell and No.6 seed Alex Haydon. The only non-Australian in the field is Malta’s Colette Sultana, who now resides in Queensland, just half an hour from the venue, the Sandgate Squash Club in Deagon.43-year-old Rachael Grinham will be the top seed for the tournament, and with the final falling on her birthday on Friday, the former World No.1 will be hoping for glory. However, her expectations are not that high.

“It would certainly be nice! However as I said I’ll just be looking at the match in front of me, and hoping to do well. For me it is a victory if I complete a match uninjured and have played well and enjoyed myself!” she explained.Grinham has not played on the PSA World Tour since the CIB Black Ball Women’s Squash Open back in March 2020. As well as that, she admitted that she took up full-time work in September, and that she has not been able to train or play as much as she would have liked.

The 43-year-old may well be the top seed for the tournament on home soil this week, but she is not expecting it to be plain sailing, with other players in the draw having prepared much more than she has.

“I think I will be likely to feel the usual pressures of being top seed, however I’m not putting any pressure on myself as I know there are quite a few younger players in the draw who have been working a lot harder than I’ve been able to in this period leading up to the tournament,” she said.

“I’m expecting some tough competition from many of the players in the draw, and will just be looking at the match in front of me to enjoy being on court at a tournament again and do the best I can.”

The event takes place from Tuesday, January 19 to Friday, January 22 at the Sandgate Squash Club in Deagon, Queensland, Australia, where Ginrham is the top seed for the tournament. Follow the PSA Challenger Tour on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates from the event.

First Round Draw: Sandgate Open
[1] Rachael Grinham (AUS) – [Bye]
Tamika Hunt (AUS) v [6] Alex Haydon (AUS)
[7] Jessica Osborne (AUS) v Heather Pilley (AUS)
[3] Jessica Turnbull (AUS) – [Bye]
[4] Colette Sultana (MLT) – [Bye]
Sophie Fadaely (AUS) v [8] Madison Lyon (AUS)
[5] Selena Sheikh (AUS) – [Bye]
[2] Sarah Cardwell (AUS) – [Bye]