Exclusive interview by RJ Mitchell
England’s Sarah-Jane Perry discusses her return from injury and thoughts ahead of this week’s PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family
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Sarah-Jane Perry has confirmed that she will make the first round of the PSA World Championships on Saturday after recovering from elbow surgery.
The World No.6 was forced to pull out of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January having undergone keyhole surgery for the painful Osteochondritis condition which had afflicted her right elbow.
Amazingly, the England No.1 had been suffering from the debilitating condition, which involves a loss of blood supply to part of the cartilage within the elbow joint, since her Commonwealth Games final appearance back in April 2018, when the 28 year-old struck silver after an epic 78-minute final defeat by Joelle King in Australia’s Gold Coast.
But now speaking exclusively to PSA World Tour, Perry has revealed she feared she would lose her race against the clock and miss out on the first ever $1 million PSA World Championships which start in Chicago this weekend.
“Obviously you are never sure of exactly how your body will react to surgery and just how smooth your recovery will be but I am good to go for my first round on Saturday,” confirmed the Englishwoman.
The Commonwealth Games silver medallist continued: “To be honest at a push I could perhaps have made the British Nationals in Nottingham last week but the prospect of maybe having to play a couple of 75-minute matches when things were not quite back to where they should be and jeopardise the Worlds was something I couldn’t risk.
“The other thing about any post op recovery, when you have a specific timescale as a target, is that you experience that moment when you think this just isn’t going the way I need it to and you can panic a bit. But to be fair the process has been pretty smooth although I have eight mini scars around the elbow area to show for it.
“But I’ve had a couple of good practice matches under my belt and I’m really looking forward to opening up my campaign in Chicago against Vanessa Chu on Saturday.”
But while Perry has some justifiable concerns, given her last competitive outing came in November, when she lost the semi-final of the Hong Kong Open against King, the English ace says she has never been fitter.
“It has been a long time away from the competitive match court and given I had to rest my right arm for three weeks before the surgery we are talking the best part of three months without hitting a ball, so that is obviously less than ideal.
“But I don’t think I’ve ever done more ghosting in my life and what with all the gym work I put in at the English Institute of Squash in Birmingham, the one thing I can promise is that if I can play myself into the tournament I have no worries about the going getting tough.
“Possibly the most alarming thing about this whole process has been the fact that I had quite a well developed right arm and by the time we got through surgery and started the rehab it had shrunk by half and was almost the same size as my non-playing left arm!
“The most frustrating thing about the injury and having to undergo the surgery was that with making the semi – final in Hong Kong and beating Nour (El Sherbini), who was ranked No.1 at the time, I was in really good form and hoping to push on at ToC and try and break the top five for the first time.
“But eventually you get to a point where you have to listen to your body and the decision is taken out of your hands. The main thing for me is that I am back, pain free and ready to give it my best go in Chicago.
“In that respect I owe a great many thanks to many people including my surgeon, the physio staff at the English Institute of Squash and my coaching team for getting me to the best place possible. Now all of my focus is on Chicago, going out on the court and giving it my all.
“I know Vanessa (Chu) will see our match as a real opportunity and it is up to me to produce the type of performance that will rise to that challenge.”