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The Daily Telegraphs’ Rod Gilmour interviews England’s latest champion

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CARRIE RAMSEY, England's latest champion at junior level, is packing for a holiday at her home in Leeds. Running shoes. Swimsuit. Check. Squash racket? Leave at home.
Squash may be flourishing in Croatia but even for a determined 19-year-old from Leeds, the day job can take a backseat for a week. After all it is her first break since leaving school with PE and Psychology 'A' levels last summer. She turned professional soon after and has endured a rollercoaster first year as she looks to break the senior ranks.
It all started at the World Junior Championships last July. "I didn't get selected for the world teams," she says. "It was tight as to whether I would and in the end I only played the individuals. It is certainly my biggest disappointment to date."
She admits to being a late developer in becoming one of England's top junior players. In her words, she was "always chasing and never considered for selection as a younger player".
The chase included losing, consistently, to English rival Millie Tomlinson, a year younger than Ramsey. "I always met her in the semis and finals of tournaments but had never beaten her," she says.
That all changed in Vienna in March when she finally ousted Tomlinson, the British junior champion, to win the European U19 Championships. After an early round scare "something felt different" by the time Ramsey reached the final. "The closest I had got to her before that was a 3-1," she recalls. "But I have known for a while how to play her. Millie is such a strong player and I really had to work hard to break her down." Ramsey eventually won 3-2 win over 75 gruelling minutes.
Underneath her relaxed - perhaps the thought of the Dalmatian Coast is looming - and confident outlook lies typical Yorkshire grit. It is no surprise that Nick Matthew and Jenny Duncalf are two professionals she knows well. But don't go mentioning that she likes playing men more than women at Chapel Allerton, her club in Leeds. "I can't believe that article!" the right-hander chuckles when asked about a local piece on her rise. "I am trying to play more women, although it is good to play the men every so often."
Boy, there's drive there alright. But what about her on-court demeanour? Ramsey thinks she's curbing her temperament already. "I used to argue quite a lot. I have learned to keep quiet but that's not to say I won't say anything to the referee. It is best to let it pass you by as it could effect the next rally and I think that was the difference when I played Millie."
Prior to her European win, the breakthrough came before Christmas when she beat Deon Saffery (Pontefract and Welsh International) in the Austrian Open. "That showed her improvement [from No 4 at U19 level],” said David Campion, England Squash & Racketball's high performance coach. "She showed that she had arrived then."
She backed Campion's views up in February at the British Nationals when she beat Lauren Selby and Laura Mylott, both 3-2, to qualify for the first round. Manchester has since become a regular visit and she has been training with the 'transitional squad', which includes senior and younger developing players.
"She has benefited hugely from working at the National Centre," said Campion. "She is a fantastic athlete and a very good mover. It is all about enlarging her game and she is starting to use it now. She can attack now and not just retrieve."
With the obligatory laptop purchased, the world No 103 is now ready for the WISPA tour and the demands of travelling. "There is no schedule as yet," Ramsey admits. "But hopefully I will qualify, play in the bigger tournaments and take on the higher-ranked players, which is always interesting!"
Despite her keen approach she has yet to indulge the history books and England's past success with the likes of Cassie Jackman. Duncalf, of course, is her idol and the England No 1 currently has Alison Waters for company in the world's top 10. England Squash, though, has the tantalising thought of Ramsey and Tomlinson one day taking over those reins. Now, where's that passport?



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