The magnificent glass court at Grand Central Station, New York where the Tournament of Champions is currently held. The women's event starts Tuesday with both Nicol David and Low Wee Wern in action. - SquashSite.uk
PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David is excited to compete in the Tournament of Champions (TOC) at the Grand Central Station in New York for the first time, and she believes that this opportunity was only made possible because of the US Open last year.
The US Open made a breakthrough of sorts in terms of women’s squash as it became the first ever squash tournament to have equal prize money for both the men and women - a total of US$115,000 (RM381,340). Nicol emerged champion after beating England’s Laura Massaro.
And Nicol believes that it was the US Open which opened opportunities for several more tournaments in the US, such as the ongoing TOC and the Windy City Open which will be held in Chicago from Feb 24-March 3.
“I’m definitely excited to compete in the TOC because this is the first time that I’ll be able to take part in the event at the Grand Central Station,” said Nicol.
“Much of this was because of the US Open last year, which offered equal prize money for women. Now there are more tournaments in the US.
“I believe this also has a lot to do with the Olympic campaign, because even though we failed to get into the 2020 Games, we managed to reach out to more places.
“This is good for women’s squash and hopefully there will be more events in the women’s calender as well.
“Right now though, I’m just excited at the prospect of getting back on court. It’s been a long time since my last tournament - the Hong Kong Open, and I had a good and long break back home with my family and friends.
“I’m also excited to start the new year on a high, knowing that Penang will host the Women’s World Championship (March 14-21) and that takes a lot off my mind,” said Nicol.
While she was in Malaysia in December, Nicol took the opportunity to work with Sean Sturgess of the National Sports Institute (NSI) to improve her fitness.
The downtime also gave her a chance to work on her programme for the year, what with the Asian and Commonwealth Games, and the Women’s World Team Championships to look forward to.
The 30-year-old will take on qualifier Annie Au of Hong Kong in the first round on Tuesday.
A win will probably pit her against compatriot and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern in the quarter-finals. World No. 6 Wee Wern starts her campaign against American veteran Latasha Khan.