The Women’s World Team Championship starts on Sunday with the opening ceremony and our presentation of the teams who will be competing in Paris continues. New Zealand were not so long ago a powerhouse of women’s squash. To regain that position, they can count on the return of their number 1 Joelle King, as well as the experience of their new coach.
Squash New Zealand has named a coach who knows what it takes to be successful in a World Team Championship: 36 year-old Shelley Kitchen played the event seven times, winning four consecutive bronze medals between 1998 and 2004. She reached a career high ranking of 6 in 2008 and among her main achievements there are two famous wins over Nicol David on big occasions (2006 Commonwealth Games third place playoff and 2007 World Championship) while the Malaysian was already at the top of women’s squash. Kitchen had an early retirement after she became a mother (she has two daughters aged 6 and 4), but she does try to remain active: she won the New Zealand over 35 Championships for the second time in a row in October. “I try to play a couple of times a week, she said (source: www.odt.co.nz) as much as I can really, it’s good to keep playing. I’ll need to be on court with the girls in Paris, so it’s good to be able to stay fit and play with them, as well.”
Photo credit: squashmad
Auckland-based Kitchen will be coaching a women’s team for the first time in Paris. “Obviously, I’ve played in lots of New Zealand women’s teams, she said. Coaching and managing will be a bit different, but I think I’ve got enough experience and know the girls pretty well.” In fact, she has been working with the players all year as part of her high-performance manager role for Squash New Zealand. “Everyone does have their own schedule,” she continues. “No-one’s based in Auckland, where I am. So I’m just monitoring their tournaments, I guess, making sure they’re training right. They all work as well. Joelle King doesn’t work, but the other members of the team do work and try to play squash fulltime. So they’re pretty busy girls. Getting them together is a bit of a challenge.”
Photo credit: squashmad
While the team is seeded lower than they may have hoped, Kitchen still feels they have a chance to finish in the top four. To do so, they will have to overcome India in pool A, in what will be one of the closest encounters in the group stage. And to reach their goals the Kiwi girls can count on their number 1 Joelle King, who missed the event two years ago due to an Achilles injury. Her absence was the main reason behind their lowest final ranking ever (10th). King has been back in the top 10 and performing consistently for a few months. Alongside her, Megan Craig is capable of beating highly-ranked players on her day, like at the last World Championship against Fiona Moverley. And Amanda Landers-Murphy will arrive in Paris full of confidence, having won three back-to-back tournaments in the last few weeks (as well as the World Doubles Championships with King at the beginning of the season).
Photo credit: www.squashbop.co.nz
New Zealand’s result in 2014 WWTC
New Zealand’s WWTC best result
Runner-up in Champions in 1985 and 1992
28 years old … #9 in the world (November 2016) … Highest world ranking 4 from April to October 2014 … Won 10 titles on the professional tour (including 2016 Macau Open $50,000) … 5-time New Zealand Nationals Champion … 2008 and 2010 World Team Championship semi-finalist … 2016 World Doubles Champion… 2016 Mixed World Doubles Champion … … 2010 Commonwealth Games Doubles Champion … … 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist … 2007 World Junior Championship semi-finalist … 2007 British Junior Open semi-finalist.
23 years old … #59 in the world (November 2016) … Highest world ranking 39 in July and November 2015 … Won 9 titles on the professional tour … 2014 and 2016 New Zealand Nationals Champion … 2011 All Star Junior Champion … Played for New Zealand in the 2014 Women’s World Team Championship.
25 years old … #62 in the world (November 2016) … Highest world ranking 35 in February, March and May 2013 … Won 9 titles on the professional tour … 2016 World Doubles Champion… 2013 and 2016 New Zealand Nationals runner-up … 2009 New Zealand Junior Open runner-up … Played for New Zealand in the 2012 and 2014 Women’s World Team Championships.
24 years old … #124 in the world (November 2016) … Highest world ranking 115 in September 2016 … 2009 New Zealand Junior Open Champion … 2013 and 2016 New Zealand Nationals semi-finalist.
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