Tanai O’Brien may have taken a year off competing but it doesn’t seem to have affected her ability to win on the squash court.
She recently spent some time in the Gold Coast taking part in two junior squash competitions as a way of jumping back into the tournament circuit.
Not only had she taken a year off the circuit, focusing on training only, she also turned 13 years old in September 2017, which means she is required to play in the under 15s division against girls up to two years older than her.
“I was nervous,” Tanai said. “But I was there to try my best and get a higher ranking.”
The first event she fronted was the Oceania Junior Championships (OJC) 2018 running from January 11 to 14; an event open to all competitors, national and international.
“I got knocked out in my first round,” she said.
But that didn’t mean she was out of the tournament, it just meant she could only end up in ninth place, which she did, coming back strong and winning her next three games.
She had a four day break before the next event.
“I didn’t do much,” she smiled. “Just sat at the pool.”
Next was the Australian Junior Open 2018 running from January 18 to 21.
This time she won her first game, which put her in the running for a higher finishing position and winning the second game meant she could place in the top eight.
The day she played her second game, she had to play the third game that afternoon, which she lost.
“I was a little tired,” she explained.
But she came back won her fourth, placing seventh overall.
Before heading into these events she was ranked seventh in Australia and fifth in New South Wales.
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Her mother Belinda Dougherty believes Tanai’s recent results will have a substantial impact of ranking.
“Looking at a possible first or second in NSW,” Belinda said.
Tanai hopes to have a higher ranking heading into the same competitions next year. But once again, she will faced with the possibility of having to place up an age division.
Her plan is to play in lots of tournaments this year and attend training camps.