Kiwis confident of upsetting favourites

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012
Joelle King
PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
DISAPPOINTING END: New Zealand's Joelle King has been knocked out of the World Open in the Cayman Islands.

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An in-form Joelle King will spearhead New Zealand's tilt at the women's world team squash championship in Nimes, France, next week and the world No 5 is confident the Kiwis have the firepower to upset.

New Zealand are fifth seeds for the 24-team biennial event, which was last held in Palmerston North in 2010. The seedings were based on individual world rankings in October, but had they been done on the latest rankings released last week - in which there were gains for King, Kylie Lindsay and Amanda Landers-Murphy, while the fourth member of the team, Kiwi No 2 Jaclyn Hawkes, remained steady at 19th - New Zealand would have leapfrogged Hong Kong into fourth.

Either way, those two teams should meet in the quarterfinals, all things going to form, as New Zealand look to at least equal their fourth placing in Palmerston North two years ago.

The top three seeds - England, Egypt and Malaysia - are clear favourites for the six-day event but King believes the Kiwis have upset wins in them.

"Team events are exciting. Because there are upsets and weird results, it keeps you on your toes," she said.

"Our whole team has been playing and competing well against the players in the four teams ahead of us. We haven't put a number on where we want to finish, but we'll give it 100 per cent and who knows, hopefully we can cause some upsets along the way.

"We've got a good team there.

"Jacs' has stayed at No 19 but the other two are both at career-high rankings now, too, so we're in good shape and we're playing well."

King and Hawkes, the 2010 Commonwealth Games doubles gold medallists, have been top-20 players for some time but Lindsay and Landers-Murphy have edged their way up the rankings, too, and currently sit at 34th and 42nd respectively.

However, England have three players in the top-10 and Egypt and Malaysia two each, highlighting their superior depth.

"They're incredibly tough but the team environment is another ball game," King said.

"Being an individual sport, some players don't perform as well in team situations and others you wouldn't expect to do as well, sometimes shine."

There are eight pools of three teams with the top two in each pool progressing to the round of 16, from which it becomes knockout. Each tie consists of three singles matches.

New Zealand are expected to top their pool, which also includes the 12th seeded United States and unseeded Japan. Their two group matches are both on Monday night (NZT).

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New Zealand's best finish at the tournament is second, achieved in 1985 and 1992.

They have been third nine times and finished fourth in the past two editions.

- Wellington

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