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2015 Australian Open Program (03/08/2015)

AO Program 2015 WEB

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Media Partner Announced for Australian Open (19/7/2015)

Squash and Racquetball Victoria and Squash Australia are excited to announce the signing of radio station 1116 SEN as the official media partner for the Australian Open. Executive Director of Squash and Racquetball Victoria, Fiona Young, said the partnership will cover the next three Australian Opens.

“This is a great opportunity for squash to develop a media presence for the Australian Open, that we hope will lead to greater awareness of the sport in general,” Ms Young said. “This is an exciting time for squash in Australia, with the return of the Open after a two-year absence. We now have a guaranteed platform to highlight the great things happening in our sport.”

Under the arrangement 1116 SEN will run advertisements in the lead-up to the Open, and daily updates during the event. Ms Young said 1116 SEN has also indicated it is eager to expand the coverage in 2016/17.

 

Return of the Australian Open Attracts Quality Field (22/06/15)

If the quality of entries can be used as a guide, the return of the Australian Open Squash tournament to the national calendar this year can already be considered an enormous success.

The women’s draw has attracted 12 players ranked in the top 50 in the world, headed by Hong Kong’s Annie Au, New Zealand’s Joelle King and Australia’s own Rachael Grinham.

And the men’s draw will be headed by Australia’s Cameron Pilley, with players from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Pakistan and India snapping at his heels.

Annie Au is currently ranked 10th in the world and has been in outstanding form in recent weeks. She won two big events in her home country of Hong Kong, including the HKFC International, and also finished runner-up to World number one, Malaysia’s Nicol David, in the Asian Championship.

New Zealand’s Joelle King, who beat Annie Au in the 2009 Australian Open final, is second seed in Melbourne, as she continues her return to squash after injury. The 26-year-old was ranked fourth in the world before injury struck her down last year, but made the quarter finals of the British Open on her return to the playing arena.

2005 Australian Open winner and world number 14, Rachael Grinham, is seeded three this year, with in-form Donna Urquhart the next best Australian, seeded eight. While Nicol David won’t be in Melbourne to chase a hat-trick of Australian Open titles, Malaysia will be well represented by world number 15, Delia Arnold. Arnold made the semi-finals of this year’s British Open, defeating Annie Au on her way.

In the men’s draw, three-time Australian Open runner-up and duel Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Cameron Pilley, will have his best chance to finally break through for a national title. Pilley, 19th in the world, took a break from squash after the British Open to freshen up for his assault on the Australian title.

Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan is looming as Pilley’s major threat, with an impressive victory in this month’s New Zealand Open and quarter finals in both the HKFC International and the Asian Championships this year already.

Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly is seeded three, after some outstanding results in North America this year. 27-year-old Cuskelly won the Northern Ontario Championship and the Oregon Open, made the semi-finals of the Pittsburgh Open and the quarter finals of the Houston Open.

Squash & Racquetball Victoria Executive Director, Fiona Young, said the quality of entries for this year’s Australian Open is outstanding. “To have 18 players ranked in the world top 50 is fantastic and we are keen to show the sporting public how good squash can be live. The all glass court is a great showcase for the sport and we are hoping for sell-out crowds for the finals. Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australian, so come on Victorians let’s prove it! ”

 

Craig Warms Up Nicely For Australian Open (15/6/2015)

New Zealand’s Megan Craig has confirmed herself as one of the early favourites for this year’s Australian Open with another tour title on the weekend.

22-year-old Craig won the Canterbury International Open in Christchurch on the weekend, her ninth tour title from just 13 finals appearances.

Craig went into the event as the second seed, and had to fight hard for 50 minutes to beat top seeded South African, Siyoli Waters, 4-11, 12-10, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8 to claim the title.

And although it’s Craig’s first ever title in New Zealand, she has shown in the past, and especially this year, a liking for Australian playing conditions.

In fact nearly all of Craig’s nine tour titles have been won in Australia, including this year’s Australia Day Classic, two WA Opens, an NT Open, a Tasmanian Open, a Caboolture Open and a North Coast Open.

The world number 49 is excited to have the Australian Open back on the calendar and is looking forward to the challenge it will bring.

“I can’t wait for the Australian Open,” Craig said.

“I’ve only played it once, which was the last time it was on the calendar, so it will be awesome to have it back.

“I’m looking forward to competing with some higher ranked players and even better, it’s not to far from home!”

Craig was just 19 when she competed at her one and only Australian Open, in Canberra back in 2012, and only made it as far as the qualifying finals.

But like her New Zealand compatriots Joelle King, Amanda Landers-Murphy and exciting youngster Elli Epke, she will be expected to make a big impact this year.

The Australian Open will be held at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre from August 3 until the 9th.

 

Pilley Ready to Chase Elusive Australian Title (1/6/2015)

It’s been so near but yet so far for Cameron Pilley at the Australian Squash Open so far. In both 2007 and 2009 he made the final, only to lose on both occasions to Canberra’s Stewart Boswell in five sets. He also lost the 2004 final to the then Australian top seed, Dan Jenson, in four sets. At the last Australian Open he lost to Egypt’s Ramy Ashour in four sets.

So no-one knows better than Cam Pilley that an Australian Open title is long overdue.

In 2015 he’ll get another the chance to claim that elusive title, with the Australian Open back on the calendar after a two-year absence. “It’s great that the Australian open is back on,” Pilley said. “Although it’s sad that it hasn’t been held in recent years, credit must go to everyone involved in getting it back on the calendar. “I hope they can continue to build it to bigger and better things in the future. I love competing on home soil!”

32-year-old Pilley, who recently broke his own world speed record for a squash ball (he belted it 177mph), had been happy with his form in 2015 up until last month’s British Open. “It had actually been quite good in the lead up to that event,” he said. “Although I played (world number three) Greg Gaultier three times in my previous three events, I feel I had been pushing him and playing well. “My British Open draw was actually quite good. I was very disappointed not to take advantage of it.”

Pilley is taking a break for a few weeks before focusing on the second half of 2015, including the Australian Open in Melbourne from August 3 to the 9.

 

 

Annie Gets Her Home Run (31/5/2015)

Hong Kong squash star Annie Au fulfilled her top billing in the Women’s HKFC International 25 – and delighted the home crowd at Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley when she held off the challenge of Egyptian teenager Habiba Mohamed in today’s final of the WSA International 25 event to win the biggest WSA World Tour title of her career.

Mohamed, the No.6 seed who celebrated her 16th birthday during the event this week, pulled off mighty upsets against second seed Rachael Grinham and third seed Jenny Duncalf to claim her unexpected place in the final.

And the teenager looked on course to carve out a third successive giant-killing act when she led world No.11 Au, the top seed, 2/1.

But, spurred on by the home crowd, the calm left-hander dropped just four points in the fourth to draw level – then maintained the upper hand through the decider to win 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 after 63 minutes.

The triumph makes Au the first home winner of the HKFC title – and takes her career Tour title haul to 11.

 

Grinham Thrilled with return of Australian Open (21/5/15)

Australia’s highest-ranked female squash player, Rachael Grinham, can’t wait for the Australian Squash Open to return this year. It is ten years since 38-year-old Grinham won her one and only Australian Open title, and she’s keen to claim the top spot again.

Grinham shared the disappointment of the rest of the squash community when the Open couldn’t be held over the past two years, but says there a positive vibe surrounding this year’s event. “I am very excited,” Grinham said.  “I remember going to my first Australian Open over 20 years ago when I was a junior, and back then it was one of the major events on the women’s tour and all the top players were there. “It’s been unfortunate to see the level of the event drop and even disappear over recent years, but it’s so great to see it making a real comeback and attracting quite a few top international players again.”

Grinham has won four British Open titles, a World Open, Commonwealth Games gold medals, and was World number one for more than a year.

To scale those heights has meant spending most of her adult life overseas, so Grinham is thrilled to get the opportunity to come back to Australia for this year’s Open. “You can play international events all over the world, but there is nothing like playing in front of a home crowd,” she said.  “It’s really fantastic to see the great job Squash Australia have done with developing the Australian tour over the past couple of years, and Vic Squash in particular who have been able to lift and host the Victorian Open and Australian Open at the highest levels they have been at in many years.”

Early indications are the Australian Open will attract some of the world’s best players, as well as the best local players of the modern era.

 

New Zealanders already planning Aussie Open assault (14/5/15)

Just minutes after winning their NT Open titles on the weekend, New Zealand’s Amanda Landers-Murphy and Paul Coll were already planning their assault on the Australian Open later this year.

“I can’t wait to come back to Australia, for the Victorian Open and then the Australian Open,” Landers–Murphy said. “It’s really great that we are getting these sorts of tournaments in our region. We have some great events coming up in NZ, and they’ll tie in nicely with these fantastic events in Australia.”

Landers-Murphy and Coll have both shown a liking for Australia. 23-year-old Coll is a three-time winner of the Australia Day Classic, while 23-year-old Landers-Murphy has enjoyed success in the same event.

“I love the conditions in Australia,” Coll said after his win in Darwin. “The hot weather suits my style. I think they’ll get a really strong field for the Australian Open. “It will be quite a good test.”

To win the Australian Open, Coll and the rest of the New Zealand male players will have to overcome history. No New Zealander has ever won the Australian Open men’s title, although Kashif Shuja did finish runner-up to David Palmer in 2008.

It’s a different story for the New Zealand women, though, who have won five Australian Open titles – the last in 2009, when Joelle King beat Hong Kong’s Annie Au for the title.

With King expected to join Landers-Murphy, Megan Craig and others in a strong New Zealand contingent, the chances of the Australian title returning over the ditch would seem high.

The Australian Open Squash Tournament returns this year after a two-year break, and will be held at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre from August 3 until August 9.

 

Joelle on Comeback Trail

Top New Zealand squash player Joelle King is making good strides in her recovery from injury and is confident of a good showing at the prestigious British Open this month.

King ruptured an Achilles tendon during the final of the national championships in August last year, but has been back on the court for a month now. The 26-year-old from Cambridge has played three tournaments so far on her return – winning the women’s titles at the Matamata Open, Te Puke Open and Remuera Classic, while also competing in the men’s divisions.

King said she was a bit nervous about her return to action, not so much about the injury but about getting back in the surroundings and with everyone watching. But she said it took her just one set of her first match back and she was laughing.

While admitting she wasn’t quite up to scratch physically in her first outing back, King felt she had improved. Coming through five tough matches in three days made her feel sore, but gave her confidence.

“I’ve been pretty lucky that it’s all kind of behaved well,” she said of the foot. “And I’ve looked after it, and done everything I kind of could to make sure that it was recovering after every session.”

That has also seen King take her general rehab to another level, with a bigger focus on massage, pilates, stretching and icing to make sure there is no added pressure on other parts of her body.

“I’m not too far off being 100 per cent, in terms of strength on that left side again, so that really was the main goal, to be going away to the British [Open] feeling like I’d got the strength back on that side 100 per cent and not having to worry about it.”

The British Open runs from May 11-17, with King flying out on May 4, basing herself in Leeds for a training week, before heading to Hull. The tournament will mark a year since King’s last official WSA event, though she said it hasn’t felt that long, and the break had been good.

After getting right away from the game and freshening up, King has also been studious with her time, doing a lot of video analysis and picking up plenty of information on other top players.

King is approaching the British Open with an eye to getting back into the routine of taking on the world’s best, along with hotel living and travelling. In her local tournaments she’s had a very relaxed feel, and is hoping to keep it on the world stage.

“It’s amazing what happens sometimes when that’s what you think, not put any pressure on myself to do things,” King said.

Having risen to No 4 in the world prior to her injury, King will have four tournaments at a ranking of No 11. She will compete at the Australian Open in August before the big tournaments start. By then she is looking to be a better player than she was before her injury, aiming for a more ruthless approach, as she looks to take out a top tournament.

“Before I got injured I was making a lot of semifinals and sort of going close and not quite getting to the final or winning tournaments. So that’s going to be a really big goal for me, to break that barrier and get through those semifinals and start to bring home some of those titles.”