FRANCE 2-1 [5/6] MALAYSIA
Camille Serme 3-1 Rachel Arnold 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8 (34m)
Melissa Alves 3-2 Aifa Azman 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6 (51m)
Coline Aumard 1-3 Chan Yiwen 7-11, 5-11, 11-3, 8-11 (28m)
Philippe Signoret, coach to France, and Ajaz Azmat, coach to Malaysia, probably aged about 10 years during Melissa/Aifa’s match….
Before anything else, we need to mention the hard conditions: the cold of course, but also the court, not an easy one, you need at the same time a lot of accuracy but if you use power to the back, it just doesn’t work, only kills to the front. So the girls are struggling a bit.
For Cam, if you forget the so so level of game for the reasons I just mentionned, it’s great to see her play, looking for solutions, which she finds as usual. As she metionned after the second game, it was about tactics. And it’s nice to see her play at a good level still, it’s good for France!
As for Melissa, well, he struggled a bit, her powerful game doesn’t work on that court that well, you need accuracy, and a strong short game. She seemed to find all that in the 5th, mid game, out of the blue, ball stuck to the wall, that helped, and Aifa helped with a few unforced errors.
So, yes, we are happy as we didn’t lose a tie but it means absolutely nothing and it’s all back on the table tomorrow against England….
It started rather well for the French camp, when Camille Serme, former PSA player French number one now retired took a good first victory.
Rachel was very dangerous, as ever, and the French lady was probably grateful she made a few too many errors at the right back on the court on her forehand in the third game, the girls standing at 1/1, and Rachel coming back from 5/0 6/1, to 4/6. Three errors there gave a “salutaire” breathing space to the French, who closed the game 11/6 in 8m.
Again in the fourth, as the players were 3/3, Camille going up 6/3, only to be caught up 6/6, a couple of errors from Rachel allowed the French lady to take a short lead 8/6, 9/7, 11/8 (8m last game).
I think I have passed on the other side really. The emotions are different, really. Of course, it was great to find that fire again, but I didn’t have that fear that paralyses the arm. Just a bit of frustration her and there.
It was a bit of a tactical game, due to the court conditions, I could see clearly what I had to do, even if sometimes, my execution was not perfect.
Now, she’s got some surprising shots, but I was prepared for that. Of course I know that I don’t move as fast as before, I am aware of it, but oh, that feeling when you turn round and see the team supporting you. That, I truly missed.
With what appeared like a good momentum, Melissa Alves clinched the first two games against young Aifa Azman, 12/10 on her second attempt, then 11/9, 12m for the opener, then 8 for the second one.
But the young Malaysian – who will soon become a force to be recon with when she manages to leave a better line for her opponents and find the lines herself instead of her opponent body – turned tables 360°, finding some superb attacks, on a dead court, deadly and accurate.
The third saw the French playing catch up, as her opponent was leading 5/1, leveled at 6/6, but the Malaysian was not to be stopped, 5 points in a row, 11/6 in 7m.
The fourth looked it was going to be a no show from the French, 9/2 Aifa, but a couple of errors, bit of nerves maybe, and Melissa clawed back up to 7/10. Still, an unforced error from the “Bleue”, and Aifa had levelled, 2 games all, 11/7, 8m game.
In the decider, both camps didn’t have much nails left, and it looked like Aifa had taken an enormous mental advantage when she went ahead 4/2. But out of nowhere, the French girl found her best squash, stringing 7 points in a row to 9/4, closing the game and match 11/6, 9m, on a no let.
I WON A MATCH!
One thing is sure, I wanted to win for the team. I just wanted to close the match, although I trusted Coline, I wanted to win for the Team.
I think I started well, shots were going in, things were going well, a few lack of focus when I was leading, losing a few points but overall, fine.
But then I started to stress out, whereas the plan was simple, court is cold and dead, you need accuracy, and go for it, which is not my forte at the moment. So for two games, fell into my old weaknessess, losing length, accuracy, and overwhelmed by the pressure you feel when you want to win for your country. Also, she played better than I, and I lost a bit of focus because of some decisions, which is a bit silly.
The 5th, I just wanted to win. I wanted to bring that point to the team, but also for myself, to gain confidence in my game, for the rest of the event, and for Coline to be able to relax and find her marks on the court.
And when I was down 4/2, I remember that Philippe had told me to stay positive, no matter what, that I was going to make it, that I was not going to make only errors. And that’s what drove me: I was not going to make errors only.
And so I clawed back. I just wanted to win very badly today.