Who ever thought that the volcanic ash crisis of last spring would contain a silver lining?
During that period, the Irish Squash Open at Fitzwilliam was postponed. It now takes place from August 30 -- and leading the Irish entry could be Madeline Perry fresh from her wonderful victory at the Australian Open in Canberra.
Before the tournament began, Perry had said that she felt she was due a good win and, boy, was she right.
She progressed smoothly to the semi-finals after beating local player Zoe Petrovansky in the first round, Annie Au from Hong Kong in the second round and then old rival Laura Massaro in the quarter-final. It was a first victory for the Irish player over Massaro since April 2006.
It meant she would face top seed Jenny Duncalf from England in the semi-finals. Like she had done in the quarter-finals, Perry dropped the opening game, but quickly recovered to wrap up the match 7-11 11-7 11-6 11-7 for a famous victory over the world number two.
Alison Waters, another British player, who had dumped out home favourite Rachael Grinham in the other semi-final, was Perry's opponent in the final.
In a 75-minute classic, Perry saved two match balls in the fifth game to win 11-5 12-10 6-11 4-11 13-11.
From the start, Perry was wrong-footing Waters with her court movement and precision and she took the opening two games.
When Waters stormed back to win the next two, the match was into a fifth game tie-breaker. At 10-9 and 11-10, Waters had match points, which Perry saved. With the score at 12-11, Perry closed out the match with a drop shot, with Waters refused the let -- a low-key end to a great encounter.
It was the biggest win of her career for 33-year-old Perry, who three years ago suffered severe injuries after a mugging incident in Italy and was told she might never play again.
"Getting to the final was a big achievement, but winning it was huge for me," said a thrilled Perry after her seventh WISPA Tour title -- and her first on foreign soil for more than five years.
Perry now plays in the Hong Kong Open from August 25-29 and if she makes the final, could again face Waters.