All in the family for the Craigs

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 13:50 19/07/2013
Megan Craig
Emma Allen
Family affair: Three members of the Craig family, Grant, front, Megan and Chas, are in the eight-strong Marlborough senior representative squash team for this weekend’s Heaphy Shield in Westport:

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Whether they manage to reclaim the prized Heaphy Shield in Westport or not, the 2013 Marlborough senior representative squash team will make history this weekend.

For the first time, three members of one family will play for the eight-strong Marlborough side in the annual clash against Nelson and West Coast - and it should not be much of a surprise who that family is.

Veteran Marlborough rep Grant Craig leads the men's contingent while daughter Megan will play at No 1 in the women's team and son Chas, who is also in the Marlborough senior golf side, is set to make his senior rep debut at No 4 in the men's side.

All three are looking forward to playing in the same team; New Zealand No 4 [and world No 46] Megan says it will be nice to be back playing for her province after she played for the Heaphy in 2011 but missed out last year.

"It's good to have the three of us in it. Chas has his golf but he can still make the Marlborough [squash] team which is pretty cool and Dad's still in there - he's getting on now.

"I still like playing [for Marlborough]," Megan said.

"It's nice to play for a team again as well when you're usually always on your own plus the Marlborough club supports me so much, so it's good to help them out and support them."

According to Grant, the fact that the Craig family will make up nearly half the Marlborough team was a reflection on squash in the region as a whole.

"Marlborough squash is all about family and there [are] a lot of families involved - hopefully we can fly the flag as one."

After relinquishing the shield to Nelson last year, he felt the Marlborough side had the players to win it back over what would be a "tough" weekend of squash.

"We normally hold our own in the men's. The women's is where it makes or breaks us so having Megs at the top will give us a boost," Grant said.

"On paper we should be good . . . this is the [big] one for Marlborough every year and we always look forward to it.

"It's a big weekend of squash, you play four hard games over the weekend and it's pretty tough, but that is part of it."

Joining Grant and Chas on the Marlborough men's team is Paul Roughan at No 2 and Pete Flynn at No 3. Janet Udy, Nic Dann and Sue Aitken make up the rest of the Marlborough's women's side.

The Heaphy Shield dates back to the 1970s when the trophy was presented by then presidents David Winstanley (Marlborough) and Neil Senior (Nelson).

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Following on from her fourth WSA World Tour victory at the City of Perth International Challenge in May, Megan Craig scored yet another very satisfying result in Australia last weekend.

Seeded sixth, the 20 year-old finished runner-up at the $10,000 Victorian Open in Melbourne.

She went down to top seed, former world No 1 and four-time British Open champion Rachel Grinham, of Australia, in the final.

The current world No 16, Grinham is 26 places higher than Craig and was too classy as she secured the title with a 11-8 12-10 11-2.

However, Craig was pleased with her overall performance.

"It was my first big tournament final so I was pretty stoked, especially considering I was sixth seed," she said.

"The final was [a] really good experience . . . I was still pretty happy with how I played and it didn't feel like I was too far away from her.

"She was just more experienced and I'm only just starting to play [that level of player].

"The more and more I play them the better I'll get because I realise I can match it with them," Craig said.

"Compared to this time last year, my game has come so far."

Craig bagged an 11-7 11-6 11-2 victory over defending champion and 12th seed Song Sun-Mi, of Korea, in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, up against second seed and world No 32 Delia Arnold, of Malaysia, the two players battled for over an hour before Craig prevailed 4-11 11-9 9-11 11-9 11-9.

The remainder of the year is set to be full-on for the jet-setting Marlborough squash star.

After the Heaphy Shield, Megan has the senior nationals next month then immediately after that will play for Canterbury in the national team champs.

The rest of August will be taken up by Commonwealth Games training and a tournament in Australia, before she plays in the $50,000 Malaysia Open in September followed by tournaments in Mexico and California then heading to Hong Kong for the Macau Open during October.

- The Marlborough Express

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