Continuing the look at the 2018/2019 season with France’s Melissa Alves and Gregoire Marche …
World Ranking: No.45
Last Season Achievments :
Faletti’s Hotel International, Val de Marne, Contrex Squash Challenge Cup
Played: 35 – Won: 25 – Lost: 10 – Win Percentage: 71.4%
France’s Melissa Alves enjoyed her strongest season to date on the PSA Tour after making her debut back in 2010.
The Frenchwoman started the season as No.201 in the World Rankings and enjoyed a strong rise to break into the top 50 by April 2019, before ending the season as World No.45 – her highest ranking to date.
-year-old got her campaign up and running with a quarter-final finish at the Nash Cup, before going onto win her next tournament – the Faletti’s Hotel International Men and Women Squash Championship – in Pakistan, where she was unseeded and beat Egypt’s Farida Mohamed in the final.
Her strong form continued as she confirmed her place at the prestigious 2018-19 PSA World Champs in Chicago after she defeated England’s Grace Gear to win the Val de Marne – PSA World Championship qualifier – event.
The French player’s good form did not end there as she started the new year in style, triumphing in Hong Kong to take the Contrex Squash Challenge Cup title, coming from 2-0 down to defeat home hope Lee Ka Yi in the final.
Alves went on to make a strong impression at the PSA World Champs where she reached the last 16 stage before going out to eventual runner-up Nour El Tayeb. The Frenchwoman recorded big wins over Canada’s Samantha Cornett and Egypt’s Salma Hany in her first appearance at the sport’s biggest event.
Alves also enjoyed success for her country – winning the women’s European Team Championships in May – where she played an integral part in clinching the trophy after she defeated higher-seeded Victoria Lust in a thrilling final match.
The 2018-2019 season has been a great one for France’s Gregoire Marche, as he moved up into the top 16 in the World Rankings, became France’s No.1, and won the biggest title of his career.
The first of the Frenchman’s two victories came in the States, as he won the Three Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open, his first PSA Bronze crown.
He beat Egypt’s Zahed Salem in a thrilling five-game final, and Marche said that it was “amazing” to take the title in Pittsburgh.
“Pittsburgh was a great week for me. Before going there, I knew that almost everyone in the draw could win it and I felt better and better everyday there!” Marche said of his time in Pittsburgh.
“Winning an event like this, it’s always something that I was looking for and it felt really amazing to finally get that big win!”
His second victory of the 2018-2019 campaign in his final event of the year. Marche took victory on home soil, at the 5R Montpellier Metropole Open.
Marche overcame former World No.1 James Willstrop in the final, and he was happy to take the crown at this home club.
“Montpellier was different because I was the No.1 seed and I had to confirm the good season and the good results I had recently, so I had to really take care of my emotions and just thinking about what I had to do on court,” the World No.18 added.
“Of course it was great to win in my own club, I felt that they put myself in the best conditions to get this title so I’m very thankful for this!”
The Frenchman suffered from some tough draws at the start of the season, as he faced Mohamed ElShorbagy, Ali Farag and Simon Rösner in the early rounds of tournaments before Christmas.
Despite the tough draws, Marche still believes that the 2018-2019 season has been his best on the PSA World Tour to date.
“This season has been the best for me by far. I didn’t start really well but I felt I was playing much better and I had some bad draws but I changed a few things in my training and it took a while to see the improvement. But, [I am] very happy overall even if i could sneak a few more wins,” he said.
After starting the season just inside the top 30, Marche found himself in the top 16 in May, his best ever position in the World Rankings, and he puts it down to relaxing more on court.
“Getting in the top 16 is a huge help for tournaments coming up. I was aiming for this top 20 for a long time and I felt very relieved after this, so I played more relaxed after and it’s how I am enjoying my squash at the moment,” the Frenchman explained.
Like most of the players on the PSA World Tour, Marche has taken a break after the season finishes, but he will soon be back in training for the start of the new season.
“The off season is always very important so I’ll take some days off to refresh my body and then I’ll train harder from the first week of July to the end of August,” he said.
“We have a great exhibition tournament in Mauritius again in July and after that I’ll have around 5 weeks to get ready for the season! I’ll probably stay in Aix-en-Provence with all the players here and train with my own staff.”
The Frenchman will be looking to push on even more come the start of the new campaign, and he has a specific goal in mind for next season.
“Next year, the main goal will be to break into the top ten but I will not think about this too much! I will just try to work on few things and play more relaxed like I used to do!”