After a marathon defeat in the British Open first round, Jenny Duncalf is focusing on having a strong off-season to propel her back into the world’s top players.
The Harrogate player has slid down the world rankings over the last two years, and was teetering on the final digit of big tournament seeding (16) before this week’s British Open in Hull.
Her first round exit to qualifier Sivoli Waters, of South Africa, is likely to drop Duncalf another peg on the ladder.
But, now injury free, the former world number two is thinking of nothing else other than returning to the top.
She said: “I am 32 now and I am still fairly ambitious to what I want to achieve in the spot. “Realistically, it’s going to be harder as you get older to finally become number one.
“I want to get to a consistent level of playing that I am happy with, which I haven’t had over the last couple of years.
“I want to get to a place in my squash where I feel satisfied with my performance, not worry too much about winning and losing.
“The idea is that if you play as best as you can, the result will take care of itself.”
Duncalf and Waters produced the match of the opening round in the $115,000 tournament in Hull, with the Harrogate player has surprise casualty as the match headed into sudden death.
Waters took the opening game 11-6 before Duncalf hit form to counter and level at 11-7.
A nervy third game went Waters’ way 11-8 but Duncalf looked to have stolen a march on the South African as she whitewashed the fourth game 11-0.
However, the pair became locked into a final game ding-dong of a battle, with both trading blows.
And, as the match approached the hour mark, Waters reserved enough energy to clinch victory 16-14.
Duncalf will now reflect on a difficult season, which started promisingly with a Commonwealth Games silver medal but soon became interrupted by injuries.
Her semi-final appearance at the Macau Open - a World Tour event - in October remained the deepest run in any tournament, having not progressed past the second round of any World Series events.
Despite her slide down the rankings in the closing years of her career, Duncalf remains defiant that she can resurrect her form and begin challenging for honours again – with retirement still far from her thoughts.
She added: “I think it’s going to be difficult to reach the top two (Raneem El Welily and Nicol David), but after that, there’s nobody that I don’t think I can’t bear on a regular basis. All those matches, I believe that I go in with a 50/50 chance of winning.
“If I didn’t think that I couldn’t get back up there, there wouldn’t be much point carrying on.”
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