In-Form Kennedy Looking To Harness Home Support At British Open 

Fresh off the back of victory at the Manchester Open and after reaching a career-high ranking of World No.5 this week, Georgina Kennedy enters this year’s British Open as one of the most in-form players in women’s squash.

Kennedy, 27, captured her second title of the 2023/24 season at the National Squash Centre last week after defeating Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb in the final, and will be looking to carry this form through to the last Platinum tournament of the season, the British Open, which will take place between 2-9 June in Birmingham and will be available to watch live on SQUASHTV.

This year’s event has seen Kennedy named as the No.6 seed, with the Englishwoman starting her campaign against one of Georgia Adderley or Kenzy Ayman, before potential third-round and quarter-final matches against Fayrouz Aboelkheir and recent World Champion Nouran Gohar, if the event were to go to seeding.

Speaking prior to the event, Kennedy said:

“I think with the home crowd, and my friends and family being there, I think it can hopefully be a good event for me. I’m not thinking about taking out a scalp, I’m just going to take it match by match and just try to play my best squash.

“I remember playing a qualifying event back when it was in Hull and I was at school. This was when I was still just dipping my toes in the professional squash scene and looking if it was something that I would be interested in. I remember coming to the arena and just being so inspired by all of the amazing athletes that I was surrounded by. I think it has always been one of the biggest events of our season, along with the World Championships, so I think that the fact these events are both at the back end of our season is really interesting.

“I think it kind of opens up the draw a little bit – it has been a long, tough season, and everyone has their eyes on taking home the final Platinum event of the season. It’s an extremely prestigious event and one that I have been looking at since I was younger, so I’m really excited to go there again this year.”

Kennedy will have fond memories of playing at The Rep Theatre when she steps out on the all-glass court for her second-round match next Monday, after reaching the quarter-final stage of last year’s event, and notably coming within a game of knocking out now-four-time champion Nour El Sherbini.

On that occasion, it was the ‘Warrior Princess’ who claimed victory in a gripping back-and-forth five-game duel, but Kennedy admitted that she was excited at the chance to be able to play in front of a home crowd in Birmingham once again.

“I think that the venue [The Rep Theatre] was at the time the best venue that I have played at in a PSA event, it was sold out from day one,” she said. “A few times people have said that squash is meant for a theatre, and I definitely agree. With it being on the stage so that everyone has a good view of the spectacle that squash is, it made for such a good venue.

“The crowd always spurs on a home player such as myself, so there is nothing like playing in front of home crowds. It just gives you that little bit of extra energy that you need.”

Despite sustaining an injury which kept her sidelined over the New Year period, England No.1 Kennedy has still enjoyed possibly the most successful season of her career to date.

The 13-time PSA Tour winner reached her first Platinum semi-final at the season-opening Paris Squash event – a feat which she followed up at the Windy City Open and the El Gouna International – as well as recording impressive title victories at both the German Open and Manchester Open.

Reflecting on her season as a whole, Kennedy said:

“Every season, there are going to be some massive highs and massive lows. At the start of the season, I reached my first Platinum semi-final in Paris and that gave me a massive confidence boost. I felt like things were coming together for me, but then I started to suffer with injury towards the back-end of 2023, and it’s crazy how it takes just one event where you don’t feel your best, and your confidence can go. When that happens, it takes a long time to build back up.

“I’ve had some of my best results this season but also had some of my worst. Players that I haven’t lost to before I’ve started to lose to this season, so it’s definitely a bit of both. I reached my highest world ranking, but I still don’t feel like I have pushed on to where I really want to be.

‘I’m starting to feel like I have come into some good form in the later stages of the season.”

Although breaking into the world’s top three ranked players remains a tough ask – with Nour El Sherbini, Nouran Gohar, and Hania El Hammamy firmly cemented at the top of the women’s game – the battle for the World No.4 spot is one which Kennedy is firmly in the mix for.

Since Amanda Sobhy ruptured her Achilles at the Hong Kong Open, Nele Gilis has largely occupied this ranking position, with Olivia Weaver recently replacing her in this spot after her superb run to the World Championships semi-finals. However, the likes of Kennedy, Nour El Tayeb and Tinne Gilis are all also within striking distance of this ranking if any were able to string together a strong run of form over multiple tournaments.

Kennedy admitted that being seeded at No.4 can help when it comes to Platinum events, where meeting one of the world’s top three players in the quarter-final stage can otherwise seem a near-certainty.

“It’s such a big advantage. The top three are very difficult to beat in these Platinum events, and their consistency is a joke. So, to be at that No.4 spot and give yourself the best chance to make it through to the semi-finals is massive. At the moment, Olivia [Weaver] has got it, and she thoroughly deserves it as she has been playing the best squash of her life.

“It will be interesting to see how she copes with being No.4. I think it is tough once you are there. For me, someone dropped out before El Gouna and I ended up being seeded at No.4 there, and it is hard to kind of take those opportunities, because you know you have such a great chance to make the semi-finals. So it’s just about taking them and that’s a whole different type of pressure.

“Breaking the top four is definitely the next target for me.”