Finals: titles head Down Under
Finals day of the WSF World Doubles at the Nationals Squash Center in Manchester saw all three titles going ‘down under’ as new Zealand trio Joelle King / Amanda Landers-Murphy / Paul Coll retained their Women’s and Mixed titles, while Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly and Cameron Pilley beat the defending Men’s champions.
 King / Landers-Murphy (Nzl) 2-1  Duncalf / Waters (Eng) 9/11, 11/1, 11/10 (46m)
 Coll / King (Nzl) 2-1  Selby / Waters (Eng) 11/8, 9/11, 11/6 (47m)
 Cuskelly / Pilley (Aus) 2-0  Clyne / Lobban (Sco) 11/6, 11/3 (34m)
Kiwis retain in Mixed thriller
The first final was the women’s, between top seeds and defending champions Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy from New Zealand against England’s Jenny Duncalf and Alison Waters, the fifth seeds.
The Kiwis started well, taking a 9-5 lead in the first, but six points in a row for the English duo gave them the lead 11/9.
It was all New Zealand in the second as the romped ahed, levelling 11/1, and then taking a 6/2 lead in the decider.
Again the English pair fought back, levelling at 7-all and earning two match balls at 10-8, errors on the backhand side from Landers-Nurphy costing the Kiwis dear. They regrouped to save both match balls, and after a series tense rallies ending in lets, finally it was the English who hit the tin to keep the title in New Zealand hands.
“That was so tough,” said a delighted and relieved Landers-Murphy. “We were ahead in all the games, just glad that we could stay strong and keep it together at the end.”
Duncalf reflected: “Losing 11-10 in the third is always quite tough. We did well to win the first and then the second was a bit of a disaster. The third was very up and down and they won it right at the end. They are the defending champions and we knocked out the Commonwealth gold medallists so we’re very pleased with that.”
King and Coll double up
The Mixed final also featured the defending champions against English opposition, with King and Waters straight back on court with partners Paul Coll and Daryl Selby.
This too went to three games as the Kiwis held sway in the first, taking the lead 11/8, but the English pair pulled back a deficit in the second to level affairs 11/9.
It was all New Zealand in the decider though, as Coll and King stayed ahead, retaining their title 11/6 as Coll drove a ball down the middle for a winner.
“We felt good together again today,” said a delighted Coll. “We dropped off a bit in the second, but managed to get early leads in the first and third, which always takes the pressure off.
“We have a great team spirit in the Kiwi camp, it’s been a tough week to start the season off, but a lot of fun, and we’re obviously delighted to be going back with more gold medals!”
Selby said: “We were seeded five so to win a silver medal is a fantastic achievement – to push the reigning world champions as hard as we did is really pleasing. Al and Joelle both did really well to play two matches in a row and we weren’t far away in the end.”
“I’m really happy – said King -we came here with pressure on our shoulders obviously going in, in both of the events as top seeds in my parings. It’s kind of a bit of a relief really.
“We had a fair idea we could play to a really good level, but it’s always making sure you put it out on court every day. In the mixed we lost early in the pool but we got better every day, a bit like a fine wine. I’m just really happy we came away with two gold and a bronze.”
“I think it’s just positive for us all looking at the season ahead and moving forward to the Commonwealth Games.”
Aussies get their revenge
The men’s final was a repeat of last year’s semi-final in Darwin, where Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley were top seeds, but it was Scotland’s Alan Clyne & Greg Lobban who took home the gold then.
This time the seedings were reversed, and so was the result as the Aussies got the better of a tough first game, pulling away at the end to lead 11/6, then dominating the second as they moved to 10/2.
The Scots saved one match ball, but in the next rally Pilley – renowned as the hardest hitter in squash, was presented with three opportunities in a row to slam a mid-court ball into the nick – and on the third attempt the ball rolled and the Aussies were the new champions.
“We’ve had a lot of tough matches with them,” said Pilley, “they beat us last year so it was good to turn the tables this time. There were some brutal rallies in the first, but we stuck to our game plan and it worked out, then in the second we continued to execute and they made a few errors which helped our cause.”