Olivia Blatchford, potential qualifier for the Delaware Investments U.S. Open, world No. 61 and just twenty-one years old, is having a great week.
In her fifth Women’s Squash Association (WSA) World Tour final, Blatchford dominated in the Mexicano de Raquetas, her first final appearance off home turf, dismissing three higher-ranked players: Ireland’s Aisling Blake in the quarterfinals, Mexico’s Samantha Teran in the semis, and South Africa’s Siyoli Waters, to take the title of champion.
The Wilton, Connecticut-native was raised on squash, learning early, and still remembers going to the U.S. Open at a young age, to watch some of the greats, like Jonathon Power and Lee Beachill, compete.
But before Blatchford takes on the qualifying draw for the Open, she’ll take to Brooklyn, her old stomping ground, and compete in the Heights Casino’s Carol Weymuller Open, a Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Gold 50 event, from September 30-October 6.
What are some personal goals for this year’s U.S. Open?
As I qualified last year, it would be fantastic to qualify again this year. It’ll be no easy task against any of the top-seeded qualifiers—I’d love to have a good outing and hopefully repeat last year’s result. After that…have lots of fun!
What are your thoughts on prize money parity?
I think that it’s absolutely fantastic! It not only represents growth in squash, but also in all of Women’s Sport. I’m very proud to be a part of an association that prides itself in pursuing equality and respect for all competitors. The U.S. Open is a special title in and of itself and I believe with equal prize money, it raises its already prestigious title to one of even greater substance.
Best U.S. Open memory?
Back when the U.S. Open was in Boston my dad used to take me up to watch. We watched every match the Saturday that we could, and the next day went to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game. Even though I’m a Yankees fan, I remember having such a good time those weekends—I knew I wanted to be an athlete and most definitely a squash player.
Best U.S. Open match that you’ve watched?
Nick Matthew vs. Jonathon Power. Hands down the most dramatic match I’ve ever watched. Power had a thumb cramp and Nick was accused of “greasing the ball”—whatever that means! Absolute craziness.
Who are your squash idols?
When I was a kid I watched a lot of Lee Beachill. I loved his delay and natural racquet head speed.
Favorite shot and why?
Backhand volley drop, kill, slice, or hold. There are so many ways to hit a backhand volley drop. I think it’s the only shot that no matter if I tin it in a previous rally, I wholeheartedly believe that I can execute it. I guess it’s my most trustworthy shot.
Favorite activity in Philadelphia?
Riding bikes with my grandfather. He’s an avid cyclist and even thought he’s seventy-seven, I still have a hard time keeping up!