Rising Old Trafford squash star, Saran Nghiem, says facing the sport’s top stars - and beating them - can only help improve her game, writes David Pye.

The 20-year-old was handed a wildcard in last week’s Manchester Open and progressed to the quarter-finals, impressively beating compatriot Alicia Mead and then British number two, Sarah-Jane Perry in Round Two, before losing to Egypt’s Salma Hany.

After her first two World Tour wins, she is gunning for more.

She told The Messenger: “If I’m going to get my first World Tour win anywhere, where better than the club I started playing squash at.

“I was a bit worried about giving her [Perry] so much respect because I know how big of a name SJ is, I’ve been looking up to her since I started playing so to get the win in Manchester of all places feels great.

“I am trying not give my opponents too much respect. It is great just to be on court with them, but out there I want to make my own name and make the most of these experiences to improve my own game.

“I am off to Austria this week and then there will be some time to rest and train before another tournament down south.

“After that it will just be about ticking my ranking along until next season.”

So how does a young girl from Old Trafford get into playing squash?

“I got into it when I was doing a fun run around the Etihad Campus and the courts here were open afterwards,” Nghiem added. “I was just messing around with my brother and one of the local coaches said to mum she should bring me down for training.

“Ever since I have been down every week. I started playing squash here twice a week and it went from there.

“Family still live locally - my brother, mum and girlfriend have all been to watch.”

The family do not get to see Nghiem as often these days. Not only are most tournaments overseas, but she is also studying in America - at Harvard.

She added: “It was a big decision I had to make to go to America. It was quite an adjustment, but I am really enjoying it. It is a great experience and I would not change my decision to go out there.

“The squash is great and it is an amazing opportunity to study there as well. I am also learning a lot for myself as a person - not just squash or academically - I have grown up a lot.

“It is still nice to come home. I love this tournament and it is so nice to have things like this on my doorstep.”

Playing on home turf is fine but Nghiem admits the ultimate dream is representing Team GB at the Olympics with squash set to be involved in Los Angeles in 2028.

Nghiem said: “As soon as it got in the Olympics it was great for us. It has been a goal of mine and I have my eyes set on that.

“It is frustrating it has taken so long to get in because we are so passionate about our sport.

“Hopefully, it gives everyone a sight into what we do and helps grow the sport.”