and New Zealand shared the glory on Singles finals day at the
2018 Commonwealth Games Squash when Kiwi Joelle King
struck gold in the women's event and it was third time lucky for two
times runner-up James Willstrop in the men's climax at
Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast, Australia.
King, a gold medallist in
the Women's Doubles in 2010, became New Zealand's first ever Singles
gold medallist when she beat England's Sarah-Jane Perry (both
pictured in action below). It was always clear that the match would be a
close-fought affair - and so it was.
Fourth seed Perry had two
games balls in the first, but it was King who closed out her fourth game
ball to win the opener 16-14. The New Zealander opened up a two-game
lead - but Perry drew level to force a decider.
From eight-all in the
fifth, King moved ahead to clinch the match 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13,
11-8 after 78 minutes take gold.
On winning her country's
first gold, King acknowledged: "Yes, it feels pretty good. We've had
some great names that have come through the squash community from New
Zealand and no-one's managed to do it yet - so it's a privilege, to be
honest, to be the first one to do it and I'm just looking forward to
celebrating with my team-mates.
"Yes, I'm back on court
tomorrow - 11am, I've heard - so there's no rest for the wicked really.
You've just got to go back, recover and be ready to go again. Doubles is
a completely different format. I think I'll be a bit rusty in my first
Whilst seeded two, King
became the event's highest-ranked player after moving up to four in the
world on the eve of the start of the event. "To be honest I didn't pay
much attention to that," said the 29-year-old. "Obviously I was excited
and happy that my ranking had moved but I didn't really look any further
than the fact there were probably about 12 players in this draw that
could realistically win the tournament - so I just took it match by
"Today was typical final
squash - a big occasion and both players wanting to give it everything
they have. All I can say is she played really well - she just did not go
away, she didn't let me have it all my own way, that's for sure."
England gained revenge in
the two nations' battle in the men's final when Willstrop, the fourth
seed, prevailed in straight games over in-form Kiwi Paul Coll,
the number two seed ranked nine in the world.
Both players had had
arduous routes to the final - Willstrop denying home interest in the
later stages by beating top Australian Cameron Pilley in
95-minute quarter-final battle and Coll surviving a 106-minute
semi-final clash with Welsh outsider Joel Makin less than 24
hours before the final.
Willstrop (seen above
celebrating his success) was in imperious form, claiming his first 3/0
win since the opening round by beating Coll 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 in 47
"It just clicked for me
today," admitted the 34-year-old from Harrogate. "It's stuff you dream
of. It's one of the most brilliant performances I've had in my career.
It just worked and it clicked - that's happened today. I don't know why,
maybe the hours of solo practice I've put in on my own on court, in
Harrogate and Ponte, all my life.
"It's an incredible thing
- and to make it happen on a big day like today - it's one of the best
performances. Whatever happened today, it's an achievement.
"I love playing the game -
and four years ago there were some doubts about that - and to think I'm
now here with a gold medal in the singles ... I can't really process it
to be honest.
"And if you'd talked to me
on Friday when I played Campbell (Grayson), I didn't feel that great
about myself, it was a real fight .... and three days later it's all
Is it his biggest title?
"I guess as a title, I reckon it probably is the best. It's a wonderful
occasion - and the atmosphere and everything around it adds to it."
The Bronze medal matches
were just as dramatic and emotionally-charged. The women's clash saw
Malaysian superstar Nicol David, the long-time world number one
and gold medallist in 2010 and 2014, take on fast-rising Welsh star
Undaunted by a 4/0 career
head-to-head record in the 34-year-old Malaysian's favour, sixth seed
Evans (pictured above at the medal ceremony with King and Perry)
delivered a scintillating performance to see off David, the No.3 seed,
11-7, 3-11, 12-10, 11-7.
"It's truly amazing -
unbelievable really - I'm absolutely over the moon," exclaimed the Welsh
wizard. "I've had a great week and to beat someone like Nicol for the
bronze medal is just out of this world. If you'd asked me 10 years ago,
5 years ago, I never would have thought I would beat her. She's an
absolute legend. That's the first time I've ever beaten her so that's
extra special as well.
"I've gone from the bottom
of the scale to the top of the scale, literally. I was really down
yesterday after my semi-final match - but thank you to Dave (Evans) and
my team, they really picked me up last night. They made me just realise
where I am and that I still had a medal to fight for.
"I can't do too much
celebrating tonight as I've got a doubles match tomorrow. At this minute
I don't know but, don't worry, I'll definitely be celebrating."
The first Games medal for
Wales for 20 years was greeted with delight by national coach David
Evans. "It's an amazing result for Tesni and Welsh squash as a
whole, getting a medal in the Commonwealth Games," said the former
British Open champion. "The last one was in 1998 with Alex Gough,
so to get a medal is unbelievable.
"But more, to beat Nicol -
who we've all got so much respect for, with what she's achieved. For Tes
to beat Nicol to get a bronze just adds a little bit extra to it."
On the impact this will
have for Welsh squash, Evans added: "I'm only a mere coach, but
funding-wise this should help. What Tesni's done in getting a
Commonwealth Games medal is pretty special - we're a very proud country,
we all fight for each other. Hopefully it will put squash back up there
Defending champion David
was composed about the result: "I gave what I could today - someone has
to come out a winner. I just couldn't quite put some things together.
It's tough out there but I'm really proud of the years of representing
"Maybe it's pushing it a
little bit to make another Commonwealth Games. If I play it would only
be for the singles - and that would definitely be a tough task."
Malaysia took bronze in
the men's play-off where 12th seed Nafiizwan Adnan (pictured
below, right, with Willstop & Coll) beat Welshman Joel Makin, the
No.11 seed, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 in 81 minutes.
When asked how big the win
was, Adnan replied: "It was the biggest ever match I've ever played - it
was enormous. I can't believe it, I was so nervous just now.
"Today I'm the first male
player in Malaysia to win a medal - I am very proud, not just for myself
but for my team. Everyone's behind me - my coach and the support team.
Every day we prepare - so I want to give to them."
2018 Commonwealth Games
images courtesy of Toni Van der Kreek
After dramatic semi-finals before a capacity 2,500 crowd
surrounding the all-glass showcourt at Oxenford Studios in
Gold Coast, Australia, it will be England and New Zealand
going for Squash singles gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on
England's event debutante
Sarah-Jane Perry was the first to claim a place in the women's
final after a powerful performance against rising Welsh star Tesni
Evans. Perry, the fourth seed ranked eight in the world, hardly put
a foot wrong as she dismissed sixth seed Evans - the surprise conqueror
of event favourite Laura Massaro - 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 to extend her
unbeaten record over the 25-year-old from Rhyl
"I'm really, really,
pleased with how I played there," exclaimed the beaming 27-year-old
Perry, from Kenilworth (pictured below in Games action). "My game plan
was to stop her playing her game, but to play my game. Tesni is so good
around the middle - if you let her get on the volley she's really
"I tried to keep her in
the back corners and that made me let myself express my squash. I'm
really pleased with that performance and can't wait to play the final
tomorrow. If I can reproduce this performance I'll be really happy.
"It's true I haven't lost
to her, but she's been right on the verge of beating me. She beat Laura
for the third time in a row yesterday and that's no mean feat - I've
never achieved that! She's definitely becoming a real force to be
When asked how she felt
about her success in her first time in the Games, Perry said: "Yes, you
can't really ask for any more than that, can you? Hopefully I'll be nice
and fresh going into the final tomorrow - and if I could win the gold
medal that would be an absolute dream come true. Even just being in the
final is a dream come true!"
After the jubilation of
earning a surprise place in the semis, Evans was understandably
downhearted at losing: "I'm very disappointed - it's one of those
matches when I just couldn't get into it and she played really well. To
be honest I don't think she did anything wrong! All credit has to go to
SJ today - she was fantastic and there was nothing I could really do.
"Normally you lose in a
tournament and you're out - it's going to be tough, but at least I can
now prepare myself for potentially an even bigger match tomorrow."
Perry will go for gold
against Kiwi opponent Joelle King, the No.2 seed (pictured below)
who, as world No.4, is the highest-ranked player in the event.
A bronze medallist in the
2014 Singles, and a gold and silver medallist in the 2010 Doubles in
Delhi, King is no stranger to the Commonwealth Games experience. The
29-year-old faced 'veteran' Games star Nicol David - the
illustrious former world number one who has played in every Games since
1998 and won gold in 2010 and 2014, and boasted a 13-1 head-to-record
over her opponent going into the match.
But the Malaysian's
formidable eight-year unbeaten Games run came to an end when King
triumphed 13-11, 11-5, 1-11, 11-5 in 43 minutes.
"Any time you beat Nicol
it's pretty special," said King. "She just doesn't give up, she's one of
the toughest players you'll ever play on Tour. She never gives up -
right to the end.
"I felt like I played some
really good squash out there, I felt like she didn't give anything away
- I had to beat her.
"Singles is what we do day
in day out and I'm just chuffed to be in the final. But it's just the
final - it's a big thing, but you've still got to turn up tomorrow, you
can't just rest on your laurels. You can't just rest on what happened
today - you've got to just enjoy it for the moment, move on, and come
"This is basically like a
home game for us - it's only three hours across the ditch. There's so
much support here for us it's amazing. It's nice to be playing in such
David was surprisingly
upbeat after her defeat: "It was very close in that first game - I think
it was really the decider, that first game, and if I could have won that
it could have been a bit of a different story.
"Joelle's been very
consistent and to come back from 2/0 down against Joelle was going to be
a bit of a tough feat. I pushed hard but in the fourth game, once I let
a few things go, it gave her confidence to step forward.
"I gave it my best but
sometimes your best is not enough."
campaigner James Willstrop became only the second player in
Games' history to reach a third final - following the achievement of his
fellow countryman Peter Nicol in 2006 - when he beat Nafiizwan
Adnan, the No.12 seed from Malaysia, in the first men's semi (both
It was in the previous
round that Adnan brought a notable era to an end when he removed
England's Nick Matthew, the gold medallist in 2010 and 2014.
Fourth seed Willstrop played a sure-footed and disciplined game to see
off the UK-based Malaysian 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 in 49 minutes.
"I didn't know what to
expect really," explained the former world number one and twice a silver
medallist. "I was just trying to work on each phase, the first few
rallies, the first few points - then see how it feels when you get the
first game up. It's just the performance really.
"What an occasion to have
ahead of you - I'm so, so thrilled, I love playing big occasions."
When told that only
Peter Nicol has reached the final three times before, Willstrop
replied "Oh really? That's great - I've got one, I've got a record! I'll
take that. The longevity thing is so pleasing.
"I owe so much to (my
physio) Alison Rose in Leeds - she's been an absolute wonder-woman to me
all my life. She's kept me strong. I've had surgery and she's kept me
going through it.
"And obviously I've had
physio support from Jade (of Team England) here all the time. It's
thanks to people like Alison that I can keep playing squash at 34 - and
likewise Nick has had all his team to help him keep playing squash at
37. That wasn't happening 10 years ago and that's testament to the
support we get."
The final match of the day
was a long-drawn-out affair which - despite the lack of local interest -
had the capacity crowd on the edge of their seats. New Zealand's No.2
seed Paul Coll, the current world No.9 who has enjoyed a meteoric
rise through the international squash ranks over the past two years,
faced surprise opponent Joel Makin, a Welshman ranked 43 in the
It took 106 minutes to
produce a winner - with underdog Makin one point away from a match-ball
in the third game before Coll grinded his way to a 6-11, 9-11, 11-9,
11-2, 11-8 victory which sees the 25-year-old into the final for the
"I knew he was going to
come out strong," Coll (pictured above on celebrating his victory) told
the waiting media afterwards. "I wanted to make it tough for him at the
start but I think I was guilty of going a bit passive - which I've been
trying not to do. So that was a bit disappointing.
"I came out in the last
three and tried to be a bit more aggressive and I think that took its
toll on him in the end. But he's a class player.
"It's a dream come true
for me to be in the final. If you'd told me I'd be here four years ago I
would have told you to go away, I wouldn't have believed you.
"To be playing for gold
tomorrow is one of the biggest dreams I could ever have.
"I've played James a few
times - he's obviously a very experienced and class player.
"I'm going to go out there
and give it my all - and hopefully do my country proud."
A quartet of players representing England, Malaysia,
New Zealand and Wales will line up in both the men's and
women's Squash singles semi-finals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
in Gold Coast, Australia, after a day of shocks and marathons
which ended well after midnight.
It was Wales which
produced a double whammy on the all-glass showcourt at Oxenford
Studios where the defeat of top seed Laura Massaro by
Tesni Evans (pictured below) in the women's quarter-finals was
followed by the dismissal of eighth-seeded Scot Alan Clyne in a
99-minute marathon in the men's event which saw 11th seed Joel Makin
earn his first place in the last four.
A tense match was
anticipated when sixth seed Evans, the Welsh number one from Rhyl, took
on England's former world champion Massaro - the silver medallist in
2014. Whilst Massaro, the world No.7, boasted a 6/3 head-to-head
advantage going into the match, world No.12 Evans had won their most
recent two meetings - in February this year ousting the defending
champion en-route to becoming the first ever Welsh winner of the British
Evans took the opening two
games, but the experienced Massaro reduced the deficit after the third -
then saved three match-balls in the fourth before the Welsh wizard
clinched her 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 15-13 triumph in 61 minutes.
"I guess my style maybe
doesn't suit her, maybe it's because of the last couple of times - but I
try and build on that," said the 25-year-old. "But it's never easy - the
toughest person to play by a mile on the Tour is Laura.
"Being a Welsh person
against England - it's our biggest rivalry. We fight for our lives. And
I think we showed that today. Wales has helped me massively.
"It's probably the biggest
match I've played yet - in an arena like this, there's nothing like it,
it's our biggest event - yes, that was a massive match."
the Welsh national coach and a former world No.3, added: "This massive
for Welsh squash - and especially for Tesni who's our number one player,
she's the first Welsh person ever to win the British championships and
she's got the highest-ever world ranking for a woman in Wales.
"So we're trying to get a
medal now. In the Commonwealth Games we've only ever had one medal and
that was Alex Gough in 1998, so it would be massive if she were
able to do it. The way she handled herself in that game was excellent."
Makin, from Haverford
West, is making his second appearance in the Games. In one of the most
evenly-contested matches of the day, 23-year-old Makin fought back from
2/1 down against higher-ranked Scot Clyne to survive a tense decider and
reach the semis in an 11-9, 4-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 scoreline.
"In terms of the occasion,
that's the biggest match I've played - getting me potentially to a medal
position," explained the triumphant Welshman.
"I'm just happy to get
through that - I knew when Chris Binnie took out the seed (Saurav
Ghosal) it really opened up the draw on our side and I think
everybody thought they had the chance of getting through.
"We played the Tournament
of Champions qualifying in January and it was a very similar match - it
was tough and hard and long.
"Tesni did really well
this afternoon - it was a big win for her. Whoever I play, it'll be hard
at this stage."
Makin will line up against
Paul Coll, the No.2 seed from New Zealand, who beat Englishman
Daryl Selby 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5 in 77 minutes in a
heavily-delayed last match of the night - while Evans faces England's
fourth seed Sarah-Jane Perry.
World No.8 Perry is making
her Commonwealth Games debut - and disappointed the packed and partisan
Oxenford Studios crowd by beating Australian number one Donna
Urquhart 11-5, 7-11, 11-2, 11-5.
"I'm so happy right now -
Donna is such a tricky opponent, she's been playing some seriously good
squash recently, pushing some of the top players, so I knew I had to go
out there and play really well," said 27-year-old Perry (pictured above,
right). "I was really pleased with how I played the whole match - I kept
myself nice and positive, had some good play and built some good
"It's a fantastic crowd -
it's been pretty much this full since day one as well which is amazing.
We like a good crowd - sometimes you have a big crowd and they don't
make any noise, which is a bit odd as well. So it's nice to hear them
between the rallies - even if it wasn't for me, most of it! But I heard
plenty of English people, which was nice.
"I know what it's like
playing against the crowd - I've played Amanda Sobhy in New York!
I don't think anything can top the brashness of some of the American
"It's my first experience
of a multi-sport Games and I'm absolutely loving it. It's a really good
set-up from the village to everything here - we couldn't really ask for
anything more. The court looks amazing and the crowd is amazing so I'm
just really excited I get to play on there tomorrow again."
The men's gold medal will
go into new hands after Malaysian outsider Nafiizwan Adnan pulled
off arguably the biggest shock of the day when he beat top seed Nick
Matthew (both pictured below). The 37-year-old Englishman is a
double gold medallist - in 2014 and 2010 - and was hoping to round off
his distinguished career with gold in Gold Coast.
Matthew twice overcame
leads by underdog Adnan - but the brave Malaysian, the 12th seed who had
never before beaten his opponent, closed out the decider to claim his
major 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6 upset in 81 minutes.
"Nick has been my idol -
it's hard to beat him, so in my heart I am really proud," said the
UK-based 31-year-old. "I am really proud for Malaysia that I am the
second guy in the semi-finals. I really pushed myself. In the match, I
kept saying to myself, just one more, one more, one more.
"It's my day!
"Yes - it is the best win
of my career, when you think he has been a three-time world champion.
"It's all about targets -
I am proud of the fact that I have really achieved something. But
Malaysia has so many talented players. I am a product of the sports
school - and there are so many players who are really good players.
"So I hope the Malaysian
government can give more funding for squash in Malaysia."
a Director of the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia, said: "I am
very happy to say I'm a proud Malaysian.
"Wan is generally a very
steady player. Today his performance was absolutely outstanding. In the
three games that he won, he showed great mental strength and very
disciplined squash - and what a fighter he was!
"He set a great example to
the rest of the players in the squad. And to beat the No.1 seed when you
are seeded nowhere - it's just too good to be true!
"We were cheering as
though we'd won the gold - and when you beat a person of Nick Matthew's
calibre, it feels like you've won gold!
"I'm absolutely thrilled
and proud of the show - I'm proud to be a Malaysian having seen that
Adnan will now face
England's James Willstrop, the silver medallist in both the 2010
and 2014 Games. The fourth seed provided a killer blow to the hosts on
day three by removing Australia's last semi-final hope Cameron Pilley
(both pictured below). In a fiercely-fought 95-minute battle, Willstrop
emerged victorious courtesy of a 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6 scoreline.
A downbeat Pilley, the
35-year-old world No.20 from New South Wales, said afterwards: "It's
extremely disappointing. It's a ridiculous crowd, friends and family are
here, so to play in front of them is special - it's probably only
happened twice in my career to play in such a big event on home soil.
"I got off to a good start
- then after losing the second I managed to get back on track and
implement my game plan and get on top of him. But he managed to switch
it and implement his game plan on me, so it was tough.
"He's a former world
number one - so he's so good at getting the game back on his terms.
Overall it's a bitter pill this morning.
"I'll have a little sulk
over the next 24 hours then I'll get on court with my doubles partners
and start to try and hone our combinations so I'll have another two
chances to get on the podium.
"The venue is
unbelievable. The Commonwealth Games Federation have done an
unbelievable job for squash."
semi-finalist is Nicol David, the country's 'Queen of squash' who
is making a record sixth successive appearance in the Games, with gold
success both in 2010 and 2014.
out-of-sorts, the 34-year-old former world No.1 from Penang went two
games down as England rival Alison Waters looked set to reduce
the 26/2 head-to-head that the Malaysian had built up since 2004.
But a revitalised David
came onto the court in the third and soon forced a decider - and after
saving two match balls in the fifth, celebrated her stunning 7-11,
11-13, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 win in 61 minutes.
"When you go into matches
like that, you don't know what to expect - and when your opponent comes
out strong, you start think 'what am I doing'?" said David.
"In the third, I knew I
really had to enforce my game now - there's no time left. So I had to
put the pressure on, and put the pressure on to the very end. She made
some mistakes and I just gave it my best so I'm very pleased."
When asked what coach
Liz Irving had said to her in the break after the second game, David
replied: "She said I had to get a little more assertive and enforce my
game. It's now or never, I thought, why not! I'd worked so hard - I'm
going to go for the long haul! I knew I had to push and push and not
Of her compatriot Wan's
success, David added: "That was amazing, I'm so proud of him. What he
did was truly special and it means we have two players in the
David will now face Kiwi
Joelle King after the No.2 seed saw off India's 8th seed
Joshna Chinappa 11-5, 11-6, 11-9.
celebrated 100% success in today's third round of the Squash singles
events at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast,
Australia, where the nation will have interest in three of the four
quarter-finals in both the men's and women's events - for the fifth time
The day began with a blow
for the hosts when it was announced that No.6 seed Ryan Cuskelly,
the world No.15 from New South Wales, had withdrawn following a leg
injury sustained during his second round match - putting Malaysia's 12th
seed Nafiizwan Adnan through to the quarter-finals.
Defending gold medallist
Nick Matthew led the way for England in the men's event with an
11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 win in 43 minutes on the all-glass showcourt at
Oxenford Studios over Vikram Malhotra, the 16th seed from
India (both pictured below in action).
Unbeaten in the event
since 2006, the gold medallist in 2010 in Delhi and 2014 in Glasgow will
celebrate his 38th birthday in July - by which date he will have retired
from the professional squash circuit after a glittering career which
includes the world number one ranking and three world championship
"I enjoyed being on there
with these dangerous players," said the top-seeded Yorkshireman after
claiming his place in the last eight. "People are going to raise their
game 10 or 15 per cent in this environment - and I need to raise mine by
10 or 15 percent as well. But I didn't today - I probably played at my
normal level. He put on a really good show today and I was probably a
little lucky to come away relatively unscathed at the end.
"I came in probably
expecting to play Ryan in front of the Aussie crowd - but I'll have to
fully reassess that. I've played Wan before - he is a dangerous player.
He used to be based in Manchester and I trained with him a few times.
He's a little bit more of a known quantity compared to today as I'd
never played Vikram before."
On competing in the
Commonwealth Games, Matthew added: "We had that massive moment at the
Opening Ceremony and everyone is buzzing in the village. Team England
are such a close team. I just love things like this, rubbing shoulders
with the other big names in the England team. It shows in the respect
each of has for each other's sports.
"Squash may not be an
Olympic sport but, if it was based on the respect the other athletes
have for our sport, we'd be in there tomorrow! You can sense that among
the guys and I just want to make them proud.
"Australia's a great
sporting country and we've been given an unbelievable welcome."
James Willstrop and Daryl Selby joined Matthew in the last
eight. Fifth seed Selby overcame rising Scottish star Greg Lobban
11-6, 11-2, 6-11, 11-7, while Willstrop, the No2 seed and 2010 and 2014
silver medallist, despatched New Zealander Campbell Grayson 11-8,
6-11, 11-7, 11-7 in 70 minutes.
When asked how easy it is
to motivate himself for a fourth Games, Willstrop replied: "It's a more
relaxed motivation now maybe - it's not life and death like it is when
"It's probably likely to
be my last one," added the 34-year-old. "So I'll try and give everything
I can and I hope it works.
"A multisport event like
this is totally different to what we're used to - it's like a
super-charged squash event. I usually walk off after an event, but here
the world's press line up to talk to me!"
Willstrop (pictured above
in action with Grayson) will face career-long rival Cameron Pilley
for a place in the semi-finals after the seventh-seeded Aussie ended
Jamaican Lewis Walters' historic run 11-3, 11-4, 11-8
Selby's opponent will be
Kiwi Paul Coll, the No.2 seed and the event's highest-ranked
player who defeated unseeded Malaysian Ivan Yuen 11-5, 11-6,
The other quarter-final
will be an all-British affair in which Scot Alan Clyne and
Welshman Joel Makin will both be making their quarter final
Clyne clinched an 11-7,
11-3, 11-7 win over Australian Rex Hedrick, while Makin stopped
the other surprise Jamaican last 16 player Christopher Binnie
11-4, 11-5, 11-2.
Top women's seed Laura
Massaro needed to call upon all her experience to overcome Kiwi
Amanda Landers-Murphy 11-8, 13-11, 11-8. The former world number one
from England, now ranked seven in the world, is bidding to go one better
than the silver medal she won four years ago.
"It was always going to be
tough because I've never played Amanda before," said Massaro (pictured
above with Landers-Murphy) after the match. "I knew she was a leftie but
we tend to play in different tournaments. I thought she played really
"Yesterday was tough
because you're playing a complete unknown, someone from a country you've
never been to - so that was tough - and today Amanda had quite a lot of
support in the crowd. But obviously I've got quite a lot of experience
behind me now and know how to fight my way through.
"The Commonwealth Games is
massive - it's brilliant to be part of a multi-sport games and be in the
village. It's something really special, being able to follow other
sports and their results.
"There's not many
tournaments that I haven't got my name on. There's a few that I'd still
like to try and win before my career is over - and this is one of them.
"But I don't want to put
too much pressure on myself because I play my best squash when I just
believe in myself and sometimes when I'm not expecting myself to win.
I'm the No.1 seed for this tournament but on my recent form I really
feel like I probably should be four or maybe five - so I'm taking a bit
of pressure off myself even though I've put a lot of work in the last
"But everybody's been
playing so well - I think people would look at the draw and say that
there's probably five of us in with the chance of a gold medal. I
certainly think I'm one of them and I've just got to get my best level
Massaro will line up
against fast-rising Welsh star Tesni Evans, the 6th seed who beat
16-year-old Malaysian prodigy Aifa Azman 11-7, 11-1, 6-11, 11-8.
team-mates Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters produced
decisive victories on the side courts to reach the quarter-finals -
fourth seed Perry beating Canadian Nikki Todd (CAN) 12-10, 11-3,
11-5 while Waters crushed India's Dipika Pallikal Karthik 11-3,
Waters progresses to face
Malaysian star Nicol David, the third seed who battled for 50
minutes to get the better of Canadian Samantha Cornett 20-18,
8-11, 11-7, 11-3. David, making her sixth successive Games appearance
after making her debut in 1998, is bidding to win a third successive
Meanwhile Perry will take
on sole Aussie hope Donna Urquhart, the No.7 seed from New South
Wales who was taken the full distance before beating compatriot
Christine Nunn 6-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5.
"All credit to Christine -
she didn't let me play my game," said Urquhart after earning her first
quarter-final berth in the Games. "We're team-mates but I don't think
we've ever played in a tournament. I know she's in really good form at
the moment. I went into this expecting a tough battle on my hands. It's
really great to see her playing so well.
"It was really important
today to get all those nerves out - I feel I've played myself into the
"I'm going to be the one
going out there tomorrow with nothing to lose - and going for it.
Hopefully I can play a little more freely.
"Being in my first
quarter-final is huge. I'm stoked!"
After a series of injury
woes, Urquhart is just three places short of her career-high ranking of
13. Is she back to her best?
"I think I'm playing
better than I ever was before. It's just that the standard of squash is
even higher. So every time I've been out injured I've not only had to
get back to where I was, but catch up with where everybody else is too.
I think I've got a lot more experience and play a better game mentally."
The final quarter-final
will see No.2 seed Joelle King take on eighth-seeded Indian
After reaching the last
eight for the first time following her 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 win over
Australian Tamika Saxby, Chinappa said: "It's nice to be able to
justify your seeding but you obviously want to take it further - and I'm
looking forward to trying to do that."
The 31-year-old from
Chennai was a surprise gold medallist in the 2014 Women's Doubles, with
Dipika Pallikal Karthik.
"It was great to win the
gold last time - and to be honest, when it happened, it never really
sunk in for me. But we soon realised how much value the gold actually
has meant and what it did for Indian squash - and that's what we're
trying to do with our game, trying to promote it, trying to make it a
big sport in our country so that people can take it up. I am very
privileged to have had that opportunity."
Second seed King, now the
highest-ranked woman in the draw, was taken to four games by Games
debutante Sivasangari Subramaniam, a 19-year-old from Malaysia,
before winning 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3.
"I've never played her
before but I know she's a very dangerous player - if she has any
opportunity to go short and take the ball, she will," explained King
afterwards. "In the third, it took me a while to get in front of her -
she dominated me on the T, but once I went back to basics and found the
corners I gained control. She's definitely one to watch and gave me a
run for my money.
"I came here wanting to do
well and know I've got to do everything I can to do well."
While the two reigning gold medallists eased into the
third round of the Squash singles events at the 2018 Commonwealth
Games in Gold Coast, Australia, the opening day of action
belonged to Jamaica after the Caribbean country's only two male
players caused major upsets to reach the last 16.
UK-born Lewis Walters,
ranked 260 in the world, raised his country's spirits in the first round
when he beat Peter Creed, the 15th seed from Wales ranked over
200 places higher, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 in 48 minutes.
Just a few hours later,
the 30-year-old Games debutant continued his unscheduled run by seeing
off Malta's Daniel Zammit-Lewis 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 to claim his
slot in the last 16 round.
Walters was then able to
join his team-mates watching the epic second round battle between his
Doubles partner Christopher Binnie and India's bronze-medal hope
Saurav Ghosal. The No.3 seed from Kolkata, who this month
celebrated a career-high world No.13 ranking, took the opening two games
and looked to be coasting to his anticipated place in the next round.
But world No.65 Binnie,
who had already played a 1st round match in the afternoon session, kept
his focus and drew level. In a topsy-turvy decider, favourite Ghosal
moved forward to match-ball at 10-8. But, undaunted - and cheered on by
a significant weight of Jamaican support from the crowd - Binnie battled
through to claim his shock 5-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10 triumph in 74
"I felt pretty confident
going into the match and even though I went down two love I kept on
pushing," said a delighted Binnie afterwards. "We had all the Jamaican
contingent here tonight - a big crowd tonight and that was great."
On the decider, the
eight-time Caribbean champion explained: "I was just trying to play one
point at a time and keep calm. I think I controlled my emotions pretty
well. He made a couple of errors at eight-all and put a couple of balls
in the middle where thankfully I didn't hit the tin. He had a couple of
match balls and I was lucky to pounce on a couple of good ones at the
end. I'm just happy to get through
"It's the biggest day of
my career for sure - even though it's a short career so far - but it's
only the second round so I have to put some perspective on it. But I
have to enjoy this - he's top 20 in the world and it's the first top 20
win I've ever had. But I've been working really hard and hopefully
tomorrow I can be close to this again to try and put in another good
Jamaican team manager
Karen Anderson (pictured above with Binnie), who competed in the
2002 and 2006 Games, said: "We're very excited. He's working really,
really hard and he's been on the edge so many times. I think it will do
the world of good for his confidence.
"Lewis beat the No.15 seed
this morning - and it was a tough battle. But he held his focus and came
back today and won again and so we have two Jamaicans in the last 16!
"We're so happy - this
means a lot for squash and we hope it can catapult the game in Jamaica."
(Pictured above, the
six side courts on which the two Jamaica R2 matches took place)
On his surprise run,
Walters agreed: "It's probably one of the best days of my life - it's
got to be up there, for sure!
"To win this morning, in
terms of beating Peter, it's probably one of my best wins,
rankings-wise, ever, to be honest. And to do it in this event makes me
"Going into the event,
Chris and I were talking about it and saying that for one us to get to
the second day would be really special - but two of us, that's really
Nick Matthew and Nicol David both reached the third round
without incident. Englishman Matthew, the men's gold medallist both in
2010 and 2014, began his 2018 campaign by despatching Ugandan Ian
Rukunya 11-2, 11-6, 11-2. The 37-year-old favourite, who plans to
retire at the end of this season, will now face Indian Vikram
Malhotra, the 16th seed, for a place in the quarter-finals.
David is also going for a
third successive gold medal. The only player competing in the singles
event for the sixth successive time, David overwhelmed Maltese
left-hander Colette Sultana 11-1, 11-4, 11-2 in 23 minutes.
"It was a good match -
it's always good to see new countries coming to the Commonwealth Games,"
said the third seed.
"The set up here is
amazing - you can see that the Games has always improved every single
time, the venue is amazing and we've been looked after really well.
"I'll be playing
Samantha Cornett - it'll be a good match and I'll definitely have to
be sharp from the word go.
"It all started for me in
1998 where the opportunity was there for me to participate in this
event. We had so much support from the Malaysian government to take
squash to the next level and I was lucky enough to keep getting that
support from Malaysia up to now. So these Games are really important to
Malaysia, for myself - but most importantly for squash being in a
multi-sport games like this where the medals are held in the highest
regard. So everyone's going for it!
"The Commonwealth Games
was the highlight for me this year so I came to Australia twice to
prepare - first earlier in February, then just before coming here I was
in Brisbane for three and a half weeks with Liz Irving and
training with some of the local players - and it was really good to get
some time on the glass court here."
Cornett was the first
woman to claim her place in the third round after beating Mary
Fung-A-Fat, from Guyana, 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 in 18 minutes.
"It feels very good to be
the first player through to the last 16," said the 27-year-old tenth
seed from Toronto, one of only two Canadians competing in the 2018
"I know that our guys, and
the other women, would love to be here too - but they didn't qualify. We
had to qualify, so Squash Canada sent us to the World Doubles to try and
get us in the top five, which was Commonwealth Canada's criteria. Nikki
(Todd) and I finished in fifth place so we are here.
"This is the biggest event
I've been a part of - it's pretty tough going. It's huge and I'm
delighted to be part of it."
On the prospect of playing
Nicol, Cornett added: "I really respect her - on court and off - and I
know it's going to be a fun match."
One of the event's biggest
prospects is Tesni Evans, the sixth seed from Wales who has
enjoyed some major scalps in recent months. The world No.12 from Rhyl
beat Guyana's Taylor Fernandes 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 to earn her place
in the last 16 round.
On the possible pressure
she faces, 25-year-old Evans said: It's a good thing, I think! Obviously
compared to four years ago there's a lot more pressure and a little bit
more expectation - but I still think there are a lot of other people
with a lot of pressure on them as well.
"The field is so strong
that anyone could almost do it - and because it's the Commonwealth
Games, everyone's going to give probably 10 or 15 percent more than they
would do in another match if they can. So I don't think of it as
pressure, but another opportunity!"
In the longest - and,
arguably, most popular - win of the day, Aussie Rex Hedrick upset
the form book by overcoming Malaysia's 13th seed Eain Yow Ng in
five dramatic games.
At 2/1 down, the unseeded
29-year-old came back to draw level, then saved two match-balls in the
decider to beat Ng 13-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10 in 93 minutes - to
rapturous applause from the partisan showcourt (see above) crowd.
Ng looked in control at
10-8 up in the fifth, but after an endless rally fell to the ground with
apparent cramp in his right leg. Clearly in significant pain and barely
able to bend the leg, Ng was unable to respond to the home hero's
remaining attack as Hedrick stormed to victory.
Hedrick fully capitalised
on this first round win to beat Guyana's Sunil Seth in the next
round to earn himself a third round berth.
"It was probably the
hardest first round match in the draw," conceded the Aussie. "He's a
really good player - I've got a lot of respect for him.
"This is the best crowd
I've ever played in front of, by far - and the best atmosphere - I've
never played in front of an atmosphere like that, it was unbelievable."
On the Commonwealth Games
experience, Hedrick admitted: "This is the biggest one - we all try and
peak for this tournament and get in the best physical shape."
hopes of Squash gold success in the Commonwealth Games in
Australia this month were given a boost on Sunday when Kiwis Paul
Coll and Joelle King both became the highest-ranked
players in the men's and women's Singles events, respectively,
according to the new April PSA World Rankings.
Both players are
seeded to win silver - behind English favourites Nick Matthew
and Laura Massaro.
Coll, now ranked nine
in the world - just one place below his best ever No.8 - has
overtaken former world No.1 Matthew, the two-time Commonwealth Games
gold medallist who has slipped out of the world top ten for the
first time since January 2009, to No.12.
King, a bronze
medallist in the 2014 Games in Glasgow, has risen three places to
return to a career-high world No.4 - replacing Massaro, the 2014
silver medallist, who slips to No.7.
Squash is celebrating
its sixth appearance in the Commonwealth Games since making its
debut in 1998 in Malaysia. The Men's and Women's Singles
Championships will take place at Oxenford Studios in Gold
Coast, Queensland, from 5-9 April, followed by the Men's,
Women's and Mixed Doubles events from 10-15 April.
While Coll, 25, and
King, 29, are currently enjoying some of the best successes of their
careers, their English rivals are arguably in the twilight of their
professional squash lives - indeed 37-year-old Matthew plans to
retire at the end of the current season.
The three-time World
Champion from Sheffield was the top-ranked player in both 2010 and
2014 - when he won gold in Delhi and Glasgow - and is unlikely to be
too concerned by the latest ranking change.
Games has been a key landmark in my career as a whole and also in
this final season," said the
distinguished Yorkshireman when the draw was announced. "It's
something I earmarked to prepare and peak for a long way out and am
getting more and more excited the closer it's getting."
34-year-old former world No.1 and world champion from Preston,
boasts three silver medals from 2014 and 2010 - and will undoubtedly
be focussing on a maiden gold in 2018.
Players from 28
nations will be competing in the two singles competitions, the full
updated draws for which (including seeding) are as follows:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bye Ian Rukunya (UGA) v Stephen Henry (FIJ) Xavier Koenig (MRI) v Yusif Mansaray (SLE)
 Vikram Malhotra (IND) v Manda Chilambwe (ZAM)
 Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bye Evan Williams (NZL) v Jacob Kelly (CAY) Othneil Bailey (SVG) v Hardeep Reel (KEN)
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bye
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bye Ernest Jombla (SLE) v Klaus Pragassen (SEY) Kale Wilson (TRI) v Daniel Zammit-Lewis (MLT)
 Peter Creed (WAL) v Lewis Walters (JAM)
 Campbell Grayson (NZL) v Jason-Ray Khalil (GUY) Kevin Moran (SCO) v Jules Snagg (SVG) Farhan Zaman (PAK) v Joe Chapman (IVB)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bye
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bye Christopher Binnie (JAM) v Jason Doyle (SVG) Micah Franklin (BER) v James Fayia (SLE)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v Sailesh Pala (FIJ)
 Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v Rex Hedrick (AUS) Sunil Seth (GUY) v Shawn Simpson (BAR) Tayyab Aslam (PAK) v Neville Sorrentino (IVB)
 Alan Clyne (SCO) bye
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bye Madako Junior Suari (PNG) v Michael Kawooya (UGA) Ravindu Laksiri (SRI) v Romit Parshottam (FIJ)
 Greg Lobban (SCO) bye
 Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) v Cameron Stafford
(CAY) Ivan Yuen (MAS) v Mandela Patrick (TRI) Christian Navas (GIB) v Kelvin Ndhlovu (ZAM)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bye
A strong united delegation
of senior officials of the World Squash Federation (WSF), joined
by the Professional Squash Association (PSA), are in Gold
Coast this week to attend the XXI Commonwealth Games, as the
sport celebrates the 20th anniversary of its inclusion in the event.
Squash's participation at
the Commonwealth Games is a powerful demonstration of where it stands
today internationally: a well-established sport that is played worldwide
on 50,000 courts in no less than 185 countries and one that regularly
reinvents itself by placing a strong emphasis on innovation,
inclusiveness and sustainability.
As Squash is vying to be
included in the programme of the Olympic Games, the
Commonwealth Games, along with other high-profile international
multi-sport events such as the World Games, Pan American Games
and Asian Games have been providing the sport with a high-level
testing ground for the latest showcourt, refereeing and broadcast
technologies, as well as a platform to showcase the legacy that Squash
is capable of leaving to the host cities and countries.
The Commonwealth Games
have indeed left significant tangible legacies in Delhi, Glasgow, Kuala
Lumpur and Manchester, where the Squash venues have become major centres
or the sport's National Centres, providing access to high-performance
training and competition for thousands of young people over the years.
The showcourt from the
Melbourne Games in 2006 is still in use - and the state-of-the-art Gold
Coast showcourt, plus the nine match courts, will be relocated locally
to establish a new Australian National Centre in Carrara.
The Games have also
showcased the development of referee Video Review, and a new generation
of all-glass showcourts, which have since become an integral part of
Squash competitions around the world.
To name a few examples of
intangible legacy: Malaysia attributes its current major status
on the international Squash scene to its debut in the home Commonwealth
Games back in 1998; India can claim a similar effect, as the
country's greatest success in the sport was achieved when Joshna
Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, initially perceived as
outsiders, claimed the Women's Doubles title and India's first gold
medal in the Commonwealth Games. This victory not only reinforced
India's sporting profile internationally, but also created the new role
models for all young women in the country.
In 2018, Squash makes its
sixth appearance at the Commonwealth Games and the sport's truly
international profile is on display in Australia. 105 players from 28
nations, including the host country, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and
India, but also Lesotho, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Fiji,
Mauritius, Cayman Islands, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines, all came together in Gold Coast to do their best at
this prestigious competition.
WSF President Jacques
Fontaine said: "With the inclusion of
Squash in the Commonwealth Games twenty years ago, the event became a
major showcase for our sport. Today we want to take it even further. As
our sport goes through a significant transformation inspired by new
technologies, new ways of youth engagement through sport, new
geographies joining in, and a better representation of women in sport,
we hope to capitalise on this incredible journey and showcase why Squash
has all the ingredients to be included in the Olympic Games programme."
PSA CEOAlex Gough commented: "With its ultra-modern glass showcourts
on display here at the Commonwealth Games this week and the innovative
plans we have for the upcoming Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games in
October this year, Squash has been at the forefront of the innovation
which enhances the spectator experience and allows for sustainable,
cost-effective and adaptable infrastructure solutions."
Next week delegation
members will travel from the Commonwealth Games in Australia to
represent WSF and PSA at the SportAccord Convention in Bangkok
where they will be able to discuss the current international sport
agenda and make the case for Squash with representatives of the global