New Zealand progress to quarterfinals at world women's squash champs in France
New Zealand have advanced to the quarterfinals of the women's world squash championships in France, after a crucial win over India overnight (NZ time).
The Kiwis finished second in Pool A after coming from behind to claim a winner-take-all contest 2-1.
With both New Zealand and India having beaten Mexico 3-0 but having lost to Egypt 3-0, their matchup would decide who advanced to the top eight along with Egypt.
Megan Craig was first on court for the Kiwis but the world No 59 faced a stiff challenge against world No 24 Dipika Pallikal Karthik, and went down 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 in 26 minutes, to put New Zealand in sudden death territory and having to win their remaining two ties.
The responsibility first fell to top Kiwi player Joelle King, with the world No 9 up against world No 13 Joshna Chinappa. King looked convincing in the opening two games, claiming them 11-5, 11-3, however Chinappa came out firing in the third to win it 11-5. The duo then fought point-for-point in a long fourth game, but it was King's experience and calm composure which shone through, as she claimed it 13-11 to end the contest at 45 minutes and level the tie.
So it all came down to Amanda Landers-Murphy to try and seal the deal for New Zealand. The world No 62 was up against 17-year-old Sunayna Kuruvilla, and while the Indian teenager pushed her, it was the Kiwi's experience which came to the fore, with Landers-Murphy prevailing 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 in 24 minutes.
New Zealand, who also have world No 59 Megan Craig in their ranks at the event in Paris, face a tough task in the quarterfinals in the early hours of Friday morning (NZ time), up against defending champions England, whose four players are all ranked inside the world's top 17.
New Zealand have never won the biennial tournament, which has been running since 1979. In the 19 previous runnings the Kiwis have finished as runners-up twice, third nine times and fourth on four occasions, but haven't made the semifinals in the past two events.