NZ squash team eye further success in doubles
New Zealand squash coach Paul Hornsby is hoping his charges can build on a promising singles campaign when their doubles combinations take the courts later today (NZ time).
The Kiwis grabbed a bronze in the women's singles today when Joelle King beat England's Alison Waters in three sets in the third v fourth playoff in Glasgow.
Hornsby was well-pleased with his charges' efforts, which also saw their second-ranked men's player Campbell Grayson make the medal rounds before bowing out in a five-set quarterfinal marathon.
"When the team was first selected, it was only Joelle that was selected as a singles player," Hornsby said.
"So she was the player that we were putting our hopes on to bring back a medal.
"But the other five players were given the green light by the New Zealand Olympic Committee and it's been worth its weight in gold. It's kept them sharp, they've all played really really well."
Hornsby said 12th seed Grayson's 11-8 11-7 6-11 8-11 6-11 loss to Indian fourth seed Saurav Ghosal was a terrific display that was almost rewarded with a semifinal berth.
"But another way of looking at it is that if he did [win], he would have played again yesterday and again today - so he's had a couple of days to come down from that and switch his focus to the doubles."
New Zealand's best chance of a doubles medal - after winning gold in the women's event and silver in the mixed in 2010 - is the mixed combination of King and Martin Knight.
The silver medallists from Delhi are the second seeds behind the Australian duo of Cameron Pilley and Kasey Pilley
"They're a proven partnership," Hornsby said.
"Things have changed since then with the tin lower on the court, and I think that's potentially in our favour. Joelle's a very aggressive, attacking player and she moves very well, so hopefully she can soak up the opposition's attacking stuff and capitalise on that.
"Joelle's moved on leaps and bounds since Delhi and Martin's playing some of the best squash of his life."
Knight and Grayson will be favoured to at least initially emerge from Pool E in the men's doubles, as the fifth seeds are playing their third Commonwealth Games together.
"The fourth seeds are a Scottish pair made up of players lower-ranked - one of them is not even on the professional circuit. But they won't be reading anything into that - they are a proven doubles pair," Hornsby said.
"The No 1 seeds are the English boys, Nick [Matthews] and Adrian [Grant], who won it last time. Nick's obviously world champion and Adrian is a left-hander - which is very advantageous in doubles - and a great athlete."
Hornsby thinks the NZ doubles teams may be better-prepared than most of their rivals through after a number of training camps and a warm-up series with Malaysia and India in Malaysia - despite the country's top players being scattered across the globe.
They will also need to bank on their fitness during the gruelling 11-day programme of singles and doubles.
"That's not a surprise to us - we've known that a long time.
"We were always hoping Joelle would get through to the final day, and she was always going to feature in both the women's and mixed doubles.
"She's put a little bit more into the conditioning side of things."
King, who won women's gold in 2010 with Jaclyn Hawkes, will team up rookie Amanda Landers-Murphy as sixth seeds.
The other Kiwi women's pair is Megan Craig and Kylie Lindsay; Paul Coll and Lance Beddoes will contest the men's event, while Coll and Landers-Murphy team up in the mixed.