NZ team wins twice at world squash
New Zealand have breezed through to the second round at the women’s world team squash championship in Nimes, France.
The Kiwis, who are fifth seeds for the 24-team biennial event, were only really troubled in one of the six singles matches on the opening day as they eased to 3-0 wins against both unseeded Japan and the 12th-seeded United States in pool E.
Against Japan, world No 5 Joelle King thrashed Misaki Kobayashi 11-8 11-7 11-1 but New Zealand No 2 and world No 19 Jaclyn Hawkes had a fright before battling back to beat Japan's No 2, Chinatsu Matsui, in five games, 11-6 8-11 6-11 11-6 11-6.
New Zealand's No 4 Amanda Landers-Murphy played the third singles ahead of the higher ranked Kylie Lindsay, beating Japan's No 3 Mayu Yamazaki 10-12 11-2 11-7 11-5. Lindsay predictably replaced Landers-Murphy for the second match, against the US, which New Zealand won with even greater ease.
King beat Natalie Grainger 11-9 11-8 11-5, while Hawkes had an easier time against Sabrina Sobhy with a 12-10 11-9 11-4 victory and Lindsay came from behind to beat Olivia Fiechter 9-11 11-5 11-5 11-9.
The Kiwis have a day off tomorrow while pool play is completed before a likely match against 11th seeds Canada in the last 16 on Thursday (NZ time).
Victory in that tie would set up a probable quarterfinal against fourth seeds Hong Kong.
The top three seeds - England, Egypt and Malaysia - are clear favourites for the six-day event but King believed the Kiwis had upset wins in them.
''Team events are exciting; because there are upsets and weird results, it keeps you on your toes,’’ King said before the tournament.
''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."
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’s best finish at the tournament is second, achieved in 1985 and 1992. They’ve been third nine times and finished fourth in the past two editions, the last of which was in Palmerston North.