Women's Top Six
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The 2001 British Open
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Open 2002 - Women's Fabulous Five (+1)
By Ron Beck © 2002 last updated on: April 11, 2002 14:40
The 2002 Edition of the British
Open, being played next week in London and Manchester could well be yet
another showcase for World #1 Sarah Fitz-Gerald to add to her record-making
But there are some
strong challengers at the party each of whom hope to have something
powerful to say about the outcome of this event. One thing we have learned
in the past few years of British Open competition on the women's
side, unpredictable results happen
Here are the top
Fitz-Gerald (#1): Sarah Fitz-Gerald, with four world championships,
one British Open, and the world #1 ranking is the prohibitive
favorite to win this event except for one fact the
British Open has always provided a psychological barrier for Sarah.
Last year's victory here took a hugh amount of mental pressure
off of her back. And now with nothing to prove, Sarah will be
able to approach the British Open in a relaxed and aggressive
fashion a fact which augers well for her chances.
Sarah's hard game strikes
fear in all of her opponents and her intensive physical, skills,
and mental training over the past two years have only strengthened
her competitive advantage.
Owens (#2): The "other girl" from Melbourne, Carol
Owens, has been in close rivalry with Sarah Fitz-Gerald since
they were bouth youths in Australian junior squash. Now, on the
world scene, they are one and two and Carol now plays for
rival Australasian nation New Zealand.
Carol has been playing extremely
well this spring, though she had a serious letdown at last week's
Hurghada event, where she was out-duelled by Natalie Pohrer.
If Carol can play aggressively
and patiently as she did in Hartford in January, she could give
Sarah a very difficult run for her money.
Profile and stats
Pohrer (#9): Natalie Pohrer, taking on the odds by basing
herself in the United States (St. Louis to be exact), is playing
much better than her current #9 ranking would suggest. One of
the problems with the ranking system is that it is 3-6 months
behind the current form of players moving rapidly up or down the
pecking order. In this case, Natalie is clearly playing at top-three
form coming in the British Open.
With all the momentum in her
favor, this may be Natalie's best chance to snag the British Open
and she is probably well aware of that. Natalie will be
an extremely tough opponent for anyone who draws her. Natalie
is placed in a relatively easy quarter. Look for a wonderful semi-final
between Pohrer and Fitz-Gerald.
Campion (#4): Cassie Campion, at 29, says she will be in the
ring for the next four or five years. Why? Her goals are to win
the British Open and to repeat with another World Open. To accomplish
that she will need to regain the magic she had in late 1999 when
she scored her wonderful wins over Michelle Martin. But she will
need to avoid the tactical errors that reared their heads in her
British Open 99 loss to Joyce and her recent losses to Natalie
After quitting the finals
in Hurghada half way through, complaining of dangerous and slippery
court conditions, Campion will need to show she has the mental
toughness to win the British Open. As Sarah can attest, the British
Open is a mental battle.
Grinham (#8): Rachel Grinham, the Australian understudy to
Fitz-Gerald and Owens, has quietly been putting herself in a position
to challenge for the top. We like Grinham's superb athleticism,
work ethic, and tactical mind.
For that reason, and because
the Australians always tend to rise to the occasion at the British
Open, we put Rachel in position as a contender here above several
of her higher-ranking colleagues on the tour.
Look for Rachel to fight hard
to improve her results recently in Egypt. Whatever the result,
Rachel's matches will be great spectator action.
Atkinson (#11): Though languishing at the number 11 position,
Dutch star Vanessa Atkinson has all the equipment to challenge
the top four at the British Open. Atkinson, who beat Cassie Campion
last time around at the British, always plays well at this event
and is due for a breakthrough.
We pick the smooth and speedy
Atkinson as the dark-horse candidate for this year's British Open.
If Atkinson can will herself to have the mental confidence that
she can beat the top stars - she will. Look for some exciting
matches involving Vanessa this week.