JENNY DUNCALF warmed up in the best way possible for what promises to be a hectic December with victory in the Monte Carlo Classic.
The 33-year-old, from Harrogate, has endured a frustrating couple of years on the court, a time that has been plagued by a number of nagging injuries and a drop down the world rankings.
But, in Monaco last week, the former world No 2 served a reminder of the kind of form that made her one of the world’s top players.
Now ranked at 21 in the PSA rankings, Duncalf went into the event at Stade Louis II as the third seed and was underdog going into last Friday’s final against top seed Sarah-Jane Perry – ranked nine places above her in the PSA global rankings.
Duncalf – coached at Harrogate by David Pearson – controlled the first game quite comfortably before taking it 11-4. Not surprisingly, the pre-tournament favourite came out flying in the second, but Duncalf held firm to increase her advantage by taking it 13-11.
Another close-fought game followed, but Duncalf used her experience to close the match out against her fellow Englishwoman, 11-9.
The triumph will serve as a timely boost ahead of Duncalf returning to the Far East for two of the biggest events of the year on the women’s tour.
First up – starting on November 29 – will be the Hong Kong Open, held in a city Duncalf will have fond memories of after reaching the semi-finals in the HKFC International in May. Following that, Duncalf will move across to Kuala Lumpur for the year-ending World Championships – an event she finished runner-up in back in 2011.
In Monaco, it was a far from easy route for Duncalf on her way to a first individual title on the women’s professional tour since 2010 – particularly after being given an early scare by homegrown wildcard entrant Coline Aumard.
The 26-year-old, from Creteil, took the first game 11-7, only for Duncalf to hit back to register a 3-1 victory, winning the last three games 11-7, 12-10, 11-9.
In the quarter-finals, former world No 2 Natalie Grinham also pushed Duncalf hard, before the England international prevailed 15-13. 11-4, 11-4.
Another Grimham – Natalie’s sister Rachael – awaited in the last four but, once again, Duncalf used had enough in the tank against the former world No 1 sealing an 11-8, 12-10, 11-9 victory to set up her crowning moment in the final.