“I Couldn’t Imagine A Better End To An Awesome Season”: US No.1 Weaver Previews Xbox World Tour Finals

USA’s Olivia Weaver has earned a second consecutive place at the season ending Xbox PSA World Tour Finals, finishing strongly as No.4 on the PSA World Tour Finals Leaderboard after an impressive season.

The USA No.1 took her game to new levels during the 2023-24 season, reaching the quarter finals or better in five Platinum events, winning two World Tour titles and recording her best ever finish at a World Championships after making the final four. The 28-year-old seems to have improved all areas of her game and credits a lot of her success to coach Rodney Martin admitting that without the changes that he suggested and worked on, she wouldn’t have had the season that she has.

We caught up with her to preview the season finale and talk more about those changes that she has implemented this season.

“I always compare the World Tour Finals in my mind to the FedEx Cup in golf,” Weaver says.

“I feel like it’s just bringing together the players who have performed the most consistently throughout the year. It’s the top eight players from the season in a group stage format followed by knockout semi-finals and then a final. Best of three until the final. It’s also sudden death at 10-10 instead of a tiebreak, which keeps us on our toes. But it’s really just to bring the best players together at the end of the season to battle it out for a big title.”

Weaver was given a golden opportunity last year as she received a late call up to the event after compatriot Amanda Sobhy was forced out of the event due to injury. Weaver lost all of her three group games, only winning a single game against Belgium’s Nele Gilis, but she is determined to perform better this time around and has a new mindset.

She says: “Honestly, I haven’t thought about the group stage dynamic too much.

“Last year was the first year that I qualified for it and to be honest, I think I was seeded eighth and I was just pumped to be there. I obviously just tried to play my best, but I had some very tough opponents. It’ll be exciting this year, I feel like I’m going in with a much different mindset this time, and I have the belief that I can win and can beat anyone.

“I remember last year, I was No.9 on the list when it came to the World Tour Finals and Amanda [Sobhy] couldn’t play, so it was just a cherry on top to the end of a good seaso,n and I was really excited to be there. But at the end of the day, I think when I was stepping on court with those top few players, I don’t think I really believed that I could beat them on any day. Or I think in the back of my mind, I was thinking that i’d have to play absolutely lights out to do this.

“I’ve worked extremely hard. I’ve made some changes with my coaching team and I know that my game is at a totally different level than it was a year ago, so I’m really excited to be in this event in such a different place than I was last year and go in with a very different approach where I know that my basic foundational game is good enough to beat to anyone.”

Some of the changes in Weaver’s swing were quite clear at the start of the season, but Weaver’s coach and former World Champion Rodney Martin has also improved Weaver’s fitness, which she says has allowed her to make better decisions on court at the crucial times in matches.

“I would say that the biggest changes that have been apparent in my game since working with Rodney [Martin] this summer are that I got a lot fitter, I did a ton of work on that side in order to compete against these top girls,” says Weaver.

“Everyone’s getting fitter and fitter by the day, and the intensity of the matches are so hard and the pace at which we’re playing is so high, so you have to be able to be ready to go for 90 minutes or two hours maybe.

“I think that fitness has allowed me to make better decisions out there. But on top of that, I think the pace of movement has gone up several notches, the pace of hitting as well. Additionally, I think I had some kinks in my swing that broke down when I was tested against the top players, so we’re constantly working on ironing out those kinks and making sure that against whoever I’m on court with, I’m able to put the ball where I want to.”

Weaver has featured in 16 PSA World Tour events this season, reaching the latter stages of nearly all of the events that she has played. The World No.6 is enjoying her squash and is looking forward to testing herself against the world’s best once again.

“It definitely has been a very long season and I’ve definitely made the point of playing almost every event,” Weaver says.

“I felt like because of all of the the changes that I made last summer I wanted to get as much match practice as possible to really start to feel more confident with my game and embed the changes that I’d made, but even at this stage in the season, I’m still really enjoying my squash.”

“I think a lot of people are talking about how they’re done, but I’m just looking forward to another opportunity to play on these amazing stages that PSA are creating for us. In front of a home crowd in a different dynamic at the PSA World Tour finals, it will be fun.

“I think what’s key is that I’ve just surrounded myself with coaches and a support system that just make me genuinely look forward to going to training every day. I think it’s easy for things to get stale if  you’re  not  surrounded  by  the  right  people  and  I’m  very  lucky  to  work  with  people  that  I  just  have  fun  with,  learn  so  much  from  and  keep  me  from  taking  myself  too  seriously.

“I’ve  had  little  blocks  of  time  where  I’ve  been  able  to  go  home  and  just  reset  and take  my  mind  off  the  events,  go  to  some  weddings,  go  to  some  birthday  parties,  see  my  nieces,  spend  time  with  my  husband,  visit  friends.  I  think  all  those  people  just  keep  me  grounded  and  keep  me  from  getting  too  in  my  head  and  just  remind  me  that  even  though  squash  is  something  that  I  spend  a  lot  of  time doing,  It’s  not completely who  I  am,  it  doesn’t  define  me  as  a  person,  it’s  just  something  I’m  really  passionate  about,  so  I  think  that  all  helps.”

For the first time since 2014, the PSA World Tour Finals will take place from the USA as action comes from Bellevue. As the country’s leading player, Weaver is relishing the chance to compete in front of a home crowd for the 10th time this season.

“Anyone  that  knows  me knows  that  I  love  playing  on  home soil. I love  rocking  the  USA  gear  and  representing  myself in my own country.  It’s  a  really  exciting  time, especially  given  that  we  just  qualified  for  the  Olympics, you  can  tell  there’s  just  this  buzz  in  the  US  right  now around  the  sport  and  its  growth,  and I couldn’t  imagine  a  better  end  to  what  has  been  an  awesome  season.”

The Xbox PSA World Tour Finals get underway on 18 June and run to the 22 June, with all action available to watch live on SQUASHTV. For more information on the Xbox PSA World Tour Finals, visit the tournament website or follow the PSA on XFacebookInstagramTikTokYouTube and WhatsApp.