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Kiwi squash players ready for World Champs in Chicago

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

There’s an air of expectation for New Zealand players Joelle King and Paul Coll at the PSA World Squash Championships starting tomorrow (Sunday) in Chicago.

King is currently ranked No.3 in the world, although seeded fourth for the tournament, while Coll is ranked six, but is seeded seventh. Two other New Zealanders are also in the draw, Auckland’s Campbell Grayson and Rotorua’s Amanda Landers-Murphy

The tournament is played in the famous Union Station where King is now rated to challenge the numerous Egyptian players who have dominated the sport in recent years.

Even Englishwoman, Sarah Jane Perry who King defeated in the Commonwealth Games final is touting the Kiwi as one of the players to beat in Chicago.

"Joelle is the major threat to the Egyptian dominance right now. She is at a career high of World No.3 and she pushed Raneem all the way in the semi-finals of Tournament of Champions in a really tight four-setter.

"Obviously I have had some pretty epic matches with Joelle like the 2018 Commonwealth Games final and she is just one very determined lady who will not give in and has the type of game that, when it is on, she need fear no one. On top of that when Joelle won her first Platinum Series title in Hong Kong she beat Raneem in the final. So there is no way she will be going into Chicago believing anything else than that if she brings her 'A' game she can win her first world title.

King plays Egyptian Heba El Torky in the first round and if matches go to seeding will meet fifth seed Camille Serme (France) in the quarter-finals.

Fellow Kiwi Landers-Murphy has a tough task in her first round match facing former world No.1 Laura Massaro (England).

Meanwhile on the men’s draw Greymouth’s Coll has been in good form reaching the quarters and semis of his last two Platinum PSA events, although on each occasion he was beaten by world No.2 Ali Farag (Egypt), the player he is seeded to face in the quarters in Chicago.

Coll starts his campaign against an Egyptian, Karim Ali Fathi late Sunday morning and has been training and playing well.

"I’ve put in a lot of work, this is the big tournament of the season. My results have been good and I’m keen to step up and go further."

The fourth New Zealander in the draw is Grayson who was a member of the Commonwealth Games team and is based in the United States. He plays 50th ranked Nathan Lake from England in his first round match.

"I am looking forward to getting started here in Chicago. It is exciting to play in the biggest prize money event in the history of squash and I am sure the atmosphere will be electric once the tournament starts. I am pleased with my draw and look forward to playing Nathan Lake of England in the first round," said Grayson.

The tournament has an unusual atmosphere with squash not progressing in the decision making process to be included in the Paris Olympics in 2024 and many players, along with organisors disappointed with the sports rejection.

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