Squash nationals still a 'big deal' for Joelle King

AARON GOILE
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2014
Joelle King
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
BIG STAGE: Kiwi squash star Joelle King in action at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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Joelle King says she will have no trouble finding motivation for this week's national championships on the North Shore despite it coming so soon after the Commonwealth Games.

The 25-year-old from Cambridge won bronze at Glasgow and had some admirable performances in the mixed events in what was a gruelling schedule.

She's been home a fortnight and back into training the past week as she eyes up a fifth successive national crown.

"I've been a bit jet-lagged, obviously, and quite tired," King said. "The Commonwealth Games is a pretty full-on event for squash. I played every day for two weeks and not one day off, so mentally it's a pretty draining event.

"I've had a couple of brutal sessions back with my trainer and working with my team, which has been nice just to have that confidence that everything is still ok and the body's feeling good. The mind and the body, as long as they're fit and well, then the rest, I've got to make it happen."

Although her goal was gold, King was pleased with bronze, saying credit had to be given to World No 1 and eventual champion Nicol David, who beat her in the semifinals.

Now King is out to stamp her authority at the nationals, which starts today.
She is wary of fellow Games team members Megan Craig, Kylie Lindsay and Amanda Landers-Murphy, as well as others who have nothing to lose.

"They're all clicking at my heels. They want to win the national championships. So it's never an easy feat to win that title. So I've always got to be on my best performance.

"To be honest, this is one of my favourite titles. I'm a proud New Zealander and when you read that trophy and see the calibre of players that have won that trophy before me, it's a really big deal for me on my calendar. So it's not really that hard for me to get up."

If King is able to take out this year's Mitchell Rose Bowl she will join Pam Guy (1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978) on five titles. Only Susan Devoy is beyond that, with 10, in succession, from 1983 to 1992.

But the five in a row, or chasing down Devoy's record, aren't things King uses as motivation.

"I don't really look at those things. I just want to win," she said. "And I want to play as well as I possibly can and not let anyone get close to me.

"I didn't even know that Susan had won 10.

"Who knows, someone might come and knock me off my perch, but I will die trying to win it again."
Assuming King does make the final, she may want to get it done as quickly as possible, since straight after the match she will dash to the airport to fly out for the Hong Kong Open.

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Friday's final is scheduled for 5.30pm, with King's flight at 10pm, meaning she has to check in by 8pm.

"So it's going to be interesting," she said. "Hopefully they're not running behind.

"I've just got to concentrate on playing really, and think about that after."

King will head straight from Hong Kong to the China Open, then home for a couple of weeks before going to the US Open and the Macau Open. Then in December there is the world teams championship in Canada followed by the World Open in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, in the men's national event Auckland's Martin Knight and Campbell Grayson are seeded one and two respectively and will be looking to make it a fourth consecutive duel for the Riddiford Gold Cup.

The pair have been taking turns lifting the silverware. Grayson won in 2010 and 2012, while Knight was successful in 2011 and last year.

Following the individual event, the teams competition will be played at the weekend.

- Waikato Times

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