Suzie Howells to enter men’s draw in squash championships
Women’s No 1 seed Suzie Howells has also decided to enter the men’s draw on her return to action at the Bermuda Squash Club Championships.
Howells, 39, has not competed in the event since 2017 and, despite being the player to beat in the women’s section,she has also chosen to test her prowess against men in the first round, with the tournament taking place from today to Friday, when the champions in various categories will be crowned.
Taking on the men is a daunting task for Howells but while she is thrilled by such a challenge, she is managing her expectations and predicts she will not progress to the latter stages
“For the first time ever, I'm playing in the men’s draw,’’ Howells said. “I’m very, very excited to compete in that, but I've no chance of winning.
“I'm not going to get past the first round as the draw is too strong for me. I'm going to give everything and give it my best shot, but I don't expect to get past the first round.
“I haven't played since 2017 and I've never won the club championships for the women, I’ve only won the national championships. I had a baby, I went travelling for a couple of years, and then it was Covid.
“I'm really looking forward to the club championships and hoping to take my first title for the women.
“There are some really strong players in the women’s draw, so I think there will be some really exciting matches and I’m looking forward to a great atmosphere down at the club this week.
“I've been steadily increasing the number of games I've been playing each week and I came back from injury last winter. I’ve been increasing the fitness since summer, playing more and games and trying to get more competitive matches in.”
Anaya Smith, the second seed in the men’s draw, is targeting his first title. Smith, 22, faces stiff competition from top seed Noah Browne, who defeated him in last year’s final.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments of the year and it’s one that I always try to win and give a good impression,’’ Smith said.
“I haven't won it before but hopefully I’ll be able to pull through this time around after losing in the final last year to Noah.
“I just had a slight niggle but I’m feeling pretty good going into it and I’m playing pretty well right now. I’m comfortable on court, hitting the ball really well and it’s all about overall fitness and how I can sustain that at a top level.
“Playing against Noah is always tough because he’s tall, he is able to volley so much and cover the court really well.
“That means I have to play differently than I normally do. Because he’s so tall, he takes a lot of balls in the air, so I’ve to find ways to attack him.
“I cannot necessarily step up and get in front of him, it’s more about having to switch up the game plan and attack from different angles.”
Micah Franklin, head of squash at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association, is excited at the broad participation from the club’s members.
“Everybody who is a member of this club is eligible to play,’’ Franklin said.
“This gives us a great sense of who in the club’s playing well and who is interested in competing for Bermuda.
“We always get a great turnout and we have about 80 entries, which is on the high end. Ever since I’ve been doing this, which is good, it shows that there’s growth of the sport on the island.
“Also, full draws on the veterans and the junior divisions is a good sign that entries are growing. Interest in the sport is growing and it should really be a good week.