West Australian Larissa Huffer’s comeback to squash gathered pace on Monday when she downed higher-ranked Canadian Alix Younger in the first round of HI-TEC Australian Open qualifying in Canberra.
Huffer recovered from losing the first game to overwhelm Younger 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 and book a qualifying final on the CSR Viridian glass court against Sarah Cardwell.
The 23-year-old from Perth was a promising junior but stepped away from the sport until she was persuaded to take it up again by Brisbane coach Marc Forster at the beginning of the year.
She made the quarter-finals of the NT Open in May and has since taken her ranking to 109 in the world.
“I feel like I’ve improved quite a bit since moving to Brisbane to train alongside Natalie Newton,” she said.
“Hopefully I can play like I did today against Sarah on the glass court.”
Cardwell, daughter of eight-time champion Vicki, cruised into the finals with an 11-3, 11-4, 11-2 win over fellow Melbourne player Victoria Leow.
“I just eased into it today, I’m getting ready for the big one tomorrow on the glass court,” she said.
Brisbane schoolgirl Jessica Turnbull had an upset win over Canada’s Genevieve Lessard coming back from dropping the first two games to win 3-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7.
“After the first two games I tried to slow down and take a deep breath, and it worked,” said Turnbull, who now plays top ranked qualifier Kylie Lindsay of New Zealand.
“It will be tough against Kylie, I’ve never played her before. I will have to play my normal, classic game, concentrating on length and trying to volley a lot,” she said.
“Today I volleyed more than I have been doing lately and that was the difference for me.”
With the top three players – Lindsay, Joshna Chinappa and Olga Ertlova, all having byes, the rest of the big guns all won on Monday.
Women’s Qualifying Round One:
Kylie Lindsay (NZL) bye
Jessica Turnbull (AUS) bt Genevieve Lessard (CAN) 3-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7
Sarah Cardwell (AUS) bt Victoria Leow (AUS) 11-3, 11-4, 11-2
Larissa Huffer (AUS) bt Alix Younger (CAN) 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5
Chloe Mesic (FRA) bt Lakeesha Rarere (AUS) 11-5, 11-6, 11-5
Vanessa Pickerd (AUS) bt Carin Clonda (EST) 11-3, 11-5, 11-3
Selena Shaikh (AUS) bt Rachael Gibson (AUS) 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Jane Kennedy (AUS) 11-6, 11-3, 11-4
Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) bt Taylor Flavell (NZL) 11-9, 11-4, 11-2
Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt Kristen Nightingale (AUS) 11-5, 11-6, 11-7
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Natalie Newton (AUS) 11-2, 11-9, 11-2
Jennifer Brown (AUS) bt Grace McErvale (AUS) 11-9, 11-8, 11-8
Megan Craig (NZL) bt Nicole Stoneham (AUS) 11-2, 11-4, 11-7
Joshna Chinappa (IND) bye