Joelle King's sights set on Comm Games gold

MEDAL HOPE: Joelle King.
MEDAL HOPE: Joelle King.

Joelle King doesn't plan to play poorly in Masterton tomorrow night.

It's just that the Wellington Open isn't the world No 4's biggest priority right now.

Seeded third for the Commonwealth Games women's squash singles, which begin in on July 24, King also has two doubles medals to defend in Glasgow. Thoughts of those events have been all-consuming in the past couple of months, as the 25-year-old seeks to take the leap from contending to winning on the world stage.

King is just playing in the men's draw at the Wellington Open this year, having won the women's competition in her sleep in recent times. These will be her first singles matches since May's British Open, where Alison Waters knocked her out in the quarterfinals.

Even in the short time since then, King believes she's become a better player and person and puts a fair amount of that down to sports psychologist David Galbraith. Between he, coach Paul Hornsby and herself, everyone involved in Team King has set their sights on greatness.

"Excellence is habits, and producing those habits every single day and just knowing you've done everything you can to be the best you can," King said.

"My life at the moment is that of a professional athlete and I'm living that to the maximum. It's been really rewarding, with this long block of training I've done to prepare for the Commonwealth Games, to look back at my training diary and see everything I've done and know that when I step out on court I will have done all the work and that if someone's going to beat me they're going to have to do something really good.

"I'm like a kid in a candy store and every day I get up and keep pursuing my dream."

Getting up to a career-high ranking of 4 is some indication that the work is paying off. But it's not enough. For King, it's No 1 or bust.

"I may never get there, but as long as that's my goal, that's what will drive me to play. And also win some majors. I've been making semifinals and quarterfinals for a while, so it's time to turn some of those into wins."

A Commonwealth Games singles medal would be a good start. That's the one she really wants, although she and Martin Knight are seeded to reclaim the silver medal they won in 2010.

King, with Jaclyn Hawkes, won gold in the women's doubles last time. Less is expected of her and new partner Amanda Landers-Murphy this year, with the pair seeded sixth.

"Amanda's going great guns. People might underestimate our partnership ... but that's fine, we know how good we've been tracking," King said.

Landers-Murphy is the women's top seed at the Wellington Open, with No 1 seed Kashif Shuja expected to retain his men's title.

The Dominion Post