Torrid travel looms for Knight

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 12/06/2014

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Martin Knight is expecting to sleep in his own bed for only nine nights over the next two months.

Starting with the International Squash Classic at SquashGym Palmerston North tonight and finishing with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in August, it will be non-stop squash and travelling for the New Zealand No 1.

On Sunday, he will be straight on a plane to Malaysia for a doubles tournament with the rest of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games players, then back in New Zealand for a pro event in Invercargill.

He then heads to Melbourne for two tournaments - an invitational one and the Victoria Open - then the Commonwealth Games, where he will partner Joelle King in the mixed doubles, and Campbell Grayson in the men's.

"If we all play our best squash, we've got a chance of coming home with medals," Knight said.

Knight and World No 4 King won silver at the 2010 Games in Delhi, and the pair should push for a medal again, as he should with Grayson.

"We're a pretty positive group," Knight said. "There's a couple of new faces and I call myself an old hand. But it is exciting because some new players are going to be involved."

The 30-year-old was meant to feature at the national doubles championships at SquashGym last month, but pulled out with a calf injury.

Now back to full fitness, Knight is the No 1 seed this weekend and is looking to win after being beaten in last year's final by Scotsman Alan Clyne.

"This is a world-ranking tournament so if I do well the goal is to improve my world ranking going forward, which is what I do on a daily basis," Knight said.

Because he lost last year, he was even more motivated to win, but said any of the top six could be favourites.

Ranked 49th in the world, Knight has been back in New Zealand since April and his most recent tournaments have been the Havelock North Open, the Auckland Open and the Remuera Open, of which he won Remuera and Havelock North.

In November he won the GoodLife Open in Canada and in September he won the Charlottesville Challenger in the United States.

After Glasgow, Knight will come home for a couple of events before nationals at his home club, North Shore.

Originally from Raumati Beach on the Kapiti Coast, Knight has been based in Auckland for the past 12 years and at North Shore for the past eight.

He was to face world No 133, Brazilian Manoel Pereira, in the first round tonight.

Jan Koukal (world No 62) from the Czech Republic, Australian Matthew Karwalski (72) and Kiwi Paul Coll (86) shape as other favourites.

Top local hope and former top 40 Kashif Shuja booked a place in the main draw last night, beating countryman Zac Millar in straight games.

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He will be joined by Rotorua's Ben Grindrod, who beat Palmerston North's former fulltime pro Josh Greenfield in a tight three sets.

First round qualifying yesterday:

(1)Tristan Eysele (SAf) bt Corbin Faint 11/6 11/2 11/1 (19mins)

Scott Galloway bt (8) Andrew Ellis 11/9 11/8 11/9 (24 mins)

(5) Tatu Knuutila (FIN) lost to Zac Millar 11/8 11/15 11/8 11/3 (36 mins)

(4) Kashif Shuja bt Victor Romero 11/5 11/5 11/5 (21 mins)

(3) Ben Grindrod bt Luke Jones 7/11 11/1 11/2 11/6 (20 mins)

(L) Josh Greenfield bt (6) James Skiffington 11/6 11/5 9/11 5/11 11/3 (34 mins)

(7) Mike Lewis (USA) bt Jason van der Walt 11/8 11/5 11/3 (27 mins)

Max Trimble lost to (2) Hannan Tarmidi (MAS) 12/10 11/9 11/2 (24 mins)

Second round last night

Eysele bt Galloway 11/6 11/4 11/7 (22 mins)

Shuja bt Millar 11/4 11/5 11/7 (23 mins)

Grindrod bt Greenfield 11/4 11/6 11/7

Tarmidi bt Lewis 11/7 11/4 11/4

- Manawatu Standard

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