The 17th Women’s World Team Squash Championship is officially underway after today’s opening ceremony at theInternational Pacific College (IPC) in Palmerston North, New Zealand
Players and officials from the 16 competing countries have been treated to a unique cultural experience, in a city now being dubbed the Squash Capital of New Zealand.
Blazing pois, a traditional Maori kapa haka group and a melodious performance of the New Zealand national anthem by the Manawatunes highlighted the ceremony, although the best was saved for last with the IPC drummers providing a dramatic climax to the proceedings.
France’s Isabelle Stoehr had earlier provided her own impromptu entertainment, breaking into the cancan as the French team were accompanied onto the court by the famous chorus line tune, while the South African team were all smiles as they marched in to the beat of Hakuna Matata.
However, the loudest applause was saved for the New Zealand quartet of Jaclyn Hawkes, Joelle King, Shelley Kitchen and Tamsyn Leevey, who strolled onto the court to the iconic kiwi song Slice of Heaven.
The ceremony over, the players now turn their attention to the court, with the first round of pool play underway tomorrow.
Despite the last-minute withdrawal of squad number two Alison Waters through injury, England retain their top seeding.
Championship Technical Director Manan Mashruwala announced that there will be no resultant change to the seedings, as per the World Squash Federation rules. He says England remains one of the top four teams at the event, and under WSF regulations, if the team affected does not drop outside the top four, the status quo remains.
1st qualifying round – Pool A:
 ENGLAND v  USA
 NETHERLANDS v  AUSTRIA
 AUSTRALIA v  JAPAN
 IRELAND v  INDIA
 EGYPT v  SOUTH AFRICA
 FRANCE v  MEXICO
 MALAYSIA v  HONG KONG
 NEW ZEALAND v  CANADA
Official website: www.womensworldsquash2010.co.nz