Squash stalwart Laura Massaro was this week awarded her 100thEngland cap in the World Team Championships in China, and following Team England’s victory over Canada in the quarter-final, she’s hoping to celebrate this feat in style.
Massaro won her leg against Samantha Cornett in convincing style by three games to one to set the tone for her teammates to follow suit, with England claiming a 2-1 aggregate victory to set up a semi-final match-up with France, who unexpectedly knocked out Malaysia.
The 34-year-old appeared in the red and white national strip for the 99thtime in the European Team Championships final in late April, where they emerged triumphant. While Massaro acknowledges it would have been special to celebrate her 100thcap with a title, it’s an achievement she is proud of nonetheless.
“It’s still really, really special and something that I’m really proud of,” the squash sensation said. “It means I’ve been able to represent my country over a significant length of time with the strength of the sport in the country, especially on the women’s side, it just shows how hard I’ve had to work to get those England caps.”
Her debut in a European Team Championships Pool stage against Spain must feel like a lifetime ago for Massaro, but it was a game that didn’t exactly go to plan, as she came down with an illness the night before but her teammates wouldn’t let her pull out.
“I told the girls I didn’t want to lose on my first cap and I was really nervous because I thought I was ill and I was going to lose and it’d be embarrassing,” she explained. “I played and I won 3-0 quite easily and got the first one under my belt, it was a bit more straightforward after that. I remember it really clearly.”
“That first cap was such an honour, I think that’s one of the really big things even now is that every member of our team is top-15 in the world, it’s a real privilege to play for your country, particularly England because you have to be that good.”
On top of her century of caps, the Preston-based 34-year-old has a fair amount of remarkable achievements to her name. The former World No. 1 is a three-time Commonwealth silver medallist, former World Champion in 2013, World Player of the Year in 2011 and she became the first Englishwoman to win the British Open in 22 years when she clinched the title in 2013, repeating the achievement four years later.
Now on 103 international appearances, Massaro is hoping to lead her country to European success on the back of this, and also to avenge their narrow 2-1 defeat to top-seeded Egypt two years ago, who they will likely face if they progress to the final.
“We’re hoping to win it. We’re seeded as two this year, Egypt are extremely strong and have the top three in the world on their team, but we’ve got three of us inside the top ten, and when you’re in the top ten you know when it comes down to the day, anyone can win.”
The semi-final against France will take place on Saturday 11:00am BST, with Laura Massaro kicking off Team England’s match against the World No. 5 seed Camille Serme. In the other semi-final, reigning champions Egypt will be looking to book their place in the final, but must first deal with Hong Kong, who knocked out third seeded USA in the quarter-finals.