Glasgow calling for Craig
Megan Craig realised her lifelong dream when she was named in the New Zealand squash team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games - but she couldn't tell anyone.
The ebullient Marlburian was in the lounge at Blenheim Airport last week preparing to fly out to Australia when Squash New Zealand called with the good news.
"I just screamed, ‘Oh, my God'," Craig recalled.
"I was with my boyfriend at the airport and he told me to calm down because everyone in the airport knew me and [Squash NZ] said we weren't allowed to announce it until next week. So then I had to play it cool. I wasn't allowed to tell anyone - it was killing me.
"I had to pretend until today. It was good that I was overseas though, and I didn't have my normal cellphone number."
After previously being selected in NZ junior sides, Craig views her selection in the senior team as the high point of her burgeoning career.
"This is my first time with the big kids. I've dreamed of this since I was about eight. I always wanted to go [to an Olympics or Commonwealth Games] but didn't know which sport I would go in. It just doesn't feel real yet. It's pretty exciting."
The 2013 Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year joins seven other Kiwis in the four-women, four-men team announced yesterday for Glasgow. The world number 42 is named alongside Waikato's Joelle King, ranked fourth in the world, Bay of Plenty's Amanda Landers-Murphy, ranked 43, and Waikato's Kylie Lindsay (55) in the women's quartet.
King's silver medal-winning mixed doubles partner from the Delhi Games of 2010, Martin Knight, world ranking 48, Aucklander Campbell Grayson, ranked 42, Canterbury's Paul Coll, 87, and Auckland's Lance Beddoes, 171, are the men named for Glasgow.
Craig has been selected for the doubles, playing with Lindsay, and feels she has every chance of success.
"Of course I would have liked to be with [the higher ranked] Joelle, but I think I have a pretty good chance with Kylie. Amanda was always going to be with Joelle because she's left-handed and it was just a stronger combination - the two forehands. But Kylie and I are working well together and had a good game with Amanda and Joelle the week before.
"Doubles are so different from singles, Kylie's been [to the Games] before and her and Tamsyn Leevey nearly beat the number one seeds. She's got heaps of knowledge and I find her good to play with."
Craig will also play in the singles draw. Although King was the only New Zealander specifically selected to represent New Zealand in the singles, the New Zealand Olympic Committee selectors endorsed a Squash New Zealand request to allow the athletes selected as part of a doubles team to participate in singles.
Craig's flight to Australia last week has already proved worthwhile, the top seed winning the NT [Northern Territory] Open in Alice Springs, her fifth WSA world tour title.
"I feel like I've had a bloody great week so far," she said. "I played so well in the [NT] final. I just had the best length of my life, playing it early, it was good."
She is now in Perth, preparing for the West Australian Open which she won last year.
One of the first people to know of her selection was her father Grant Craig, a Marlborough squash veteran.
"It's great news isn't it. Absolutely stoked," he said.
"She's targeted this, especially when squash missed out on going to the Olympics. That was disappointing, so this is the next best thing. It's great that Squash NZ has shown confidence in her."
Craig won't be the only Marlborough Squash Club member to compete in Glasgow. Blenheim's Dorothy Boyce has been chosen to represent Papua New Guinea at the Games.
The B1-ranked player, who has lived in Marlborough for the past four years, attended trials in PNG in April and was named in the team for Glasgow soon after.
She is looking forward to the experience.
"I'm just expecting to play my game. I've never been to Europe. It will certainly be an eye-opener for me," said Boyce, who will also be part of an eight-strong team.
AT A GLANCE
New Zealand squash team (world ranking in brackets)
Joelle King (4) - Waikato; Megan Craig (42) - Marlborough/Canterbury; Amanda Landers-Murphy (43) - Bay of Plenty; Kylie Lindsay (55) - Waikato
Campbell Grayson (42) - Auckland; Martin Knight (48) - Auckland; Paul Coll (87) - Canterbury; Lance Beddoes (171) - Auckland
Women's singles - Joelle King.
Women's doubles - Joelle King and Amanda Landers-Murphy; Megan Craig and Kylie Lindsay.
Men's doubles - Martin Knight and Campbell Grayson; Paul Coll and Lance Beddoes.
Mixed doubles - Martin Knight and Joelle King; Paul Coll and Amanda Landers-Murphy.