Two wins from two for New Zealand players, Paul Coll and Joelle King at the Manchester Open as professional squash returns after six months.
Manchester is the first PSA tournament since March after a Covid-19 shutdown and is held under strict health conditions in what will be a condensed season.
There was no issues for defending champion King had a good start to the tournament defeating Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica 11-6, 11-6, 11-5, looking comfortable throughout the match against her more inexperienced opponent.
“I think I got every bit of nerves I had in the system out,” said King. “Sometimes it’s difficult when you’re playing a player that you haven’t seen that much.
Personally, I haven’t seen Ineta play and she is quite a tricky opponent. Sometimes you have set players that you play against all the time and you have plans for them and then a spanner in the works, someone like her, then it’s nice to get over the line in three.”
For King there is plenty of adjustment to get used to around the tournament, but also after not returning home during the shutdown.
“The situation we are in at the moment it’s a little difficult, there’s a lot of changes and no practice in the morning is an adjustment for us. I just tried to hit my targets and play my game. I have done a lot of work over this period and sometimes you can be too excited to get it going, but it came right in the end.”
King, 31 will now face Englishwoman, Lucy Turmel ranked 52nd in the world in the second round on Saturday (NZT).
Countryman Coll had a harder workout to start his Manchester Open with a four game victory over Frenchman, Baptiste Masotti.
Coll, the world No 5 won the match in 67 minutes 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 in 67 minutes. He now plays talented Egyptian Fares Dessouky in the second round on Saturday NZT.
The 28-year-old from the West Coast had to rely on his fitness to get him through parts of the match as the Frenchman played on emotion at times.
“I’m pretty happy with today. It was a bit of a slow start, but it’s really nice to be back on court after six months off,” said Coll. “There were a few nerves in the opening two sets but I managed to make them long enough and stay in the rallies. I thought I was a bit unlucky to lose the second but credit to Baptiste who was playing well.
“I felt a lot better in the third and fourth a lot more aggressive. I stepped up the court a bit more. Overall I am pretty happy with the performance and I got the tournament off to a good start. I’m going to stay in my room and be a good boy and then mahi again on Friday, so looking forward to it.”