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SQUASH - Int News 09 Jul, 2024

Caroline Fouts: “Team USA is a force to be reckoned with”
Caroline Fouts: “Team USA is a force to be reckoned with”

Jonathan Smith

USA’s Caroline Fouts, at just 18 years of age, has cemented herself as one of the most exciting prospect in the world of squash.

Since starting her on-court career at the age of eight, the US No.5 has debuted for Team USA, achieved wins over full-time professionals at the Tournament of Champions and World Championships, and earned a spot inside the world’s top 60.

Fouts reflected on an exhilarating start to her career.

“[Since last year’s World Championships] I think I’ve become a lot more confident in my style of squash, and in being able to believe that I can compete at this level. Last year was a bit of a shell-shock competing against the best world players, and I think this year I came into the tournament with a bit more confidence, having more exposure to the level of players.

Fouts in action against Melissa Alves

2024 got off to an encouraging start for Fouts, as the teenager managed to come back twice to beat France No.1 Melissa Alves 3-2 in round one of the Tournament of Champions.

“That was a big confidence boost for me. I had come off of the British Junior Open, which was also a good tournament for me, so going from that tournament with so much US support and going straight into the Tournament of Champions - I really entered with this desire and hunger to continue to compete and to prove myself as an up-and-coming squash player.

“I went into that tournament, playing Melissa, believing that I could take her to five games and push her to play her best squash, and thankfully and luckily I got a good win, and that gave me the confidence to believe in myself.”

Fouts takes on Fayrouz Aboelkheir

Speaking about her time on the PSA tour, the 18-year-old picked out several highs and lows that came with her first full season.

“To start with, the US Open in December, and then the British [Junior] Open was great, losing to Fayrouz [Aboelkheir], she’s a top-20 player right now and she’s in top form, so that was a great tournament.

“I reached my first final in a 15K tournament which was good for me. I lost to Nardine Garas, a top player. Being at the World Championships, qualifying from the Pan-Am region, that’s a high, but there’s also been some low moments.

“Recently I played Sana Ibrahim and those battles on the Challenger Tour really prepared me for some of these bigger opportunities that I’m starting to get, so they might seem like low moments at the time, but I really do think that those have helped me play at the higher level.”

Fouts celebrates a big win over Canada's Nicole Bunyan

Amongst the American’s achievements this season, a high point came in her most recent event as she defeated World No.47 Nicole Bunyan to do one better than her 2023 tournament debut and claim a first-round win on the biggest stage in squash: The PSA World Championships.

“Playing a lot of the good Challenger Tour tournaments has been a really good stepping stone, because it allowed me to take my solid junior game but be exposed to different conditions, a different environment and a different intensity that was seen at World Juniors, and hopefully I can carry that to Houston this summer.”

Expanding on her desire to carry her form into the Houston-based edition of the World Juniors, Fouts explained her relationship with the team that she represents.

"I love playing for Team USA"

“I really love playing for Team USA. Some of my fondest memories of squash are from playing at the British [Junior] Open this year. I can’t wait to have the three letters on my back again, playing at this high level.

“This year at the British Junior Open there were around 52 juniors supporting me behind that glass in the final and I pulled out some of my best squash, so being able to recreate that at the World Juniors this year is really something exciting, especially in our home country.

“I know there’ll be a lot of support, and both the men and the women have really strong teams this year, and we’re looking to grab the team titles for both the men and the women.”

Since opening in July 2021, the Arlen Specter US Squash Center has provided a base for elite and grassroots squash in the United States, and Fouts feels it has created the perfect environment to develop the country’s capabilities.

“I really think [squash in the US is] being brought to the next level with our national training centre. There’s a great squad there and atmosphere, and we have great coaches who are really trying to encourage a lot of the juniors to consider playing professional squash.

“We’re so lucky to have the opportunity to play at the Specter Center, an amazing facility, and it really is evident in the progression of the women, and the men. I really think that Team USA for the men and the women is a force to be reckoned with for sure.”