Host nation Australia will head into the knockout stage of the WSF World Doubles Squash Championships at the Carrara Squash Centre as gold medal favourites after the top seeds charged into all semi-finals.
In the mixed doubles competition, reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallists Donna Lobban and Cameron Pilley cruised through the pool phase to finish undefeated.
The cousins from Yamba in New South Wales (pictured in action above) defeated fellow Australian’s Christine Nunn and Ethan Eyles 11-4 11-5 to top pool A. Nunn and Eyles, who are teaming for the first time, will also progress to the semi-finals where they’ll face a tough matchup against Colombian pairing Catalina Pelaez and Matias Knudsen.
The second-seeded Colombians have impressed throughout the tournament, finishing undefeated at the top of Pool B. 17-year-old South Australian Alex Haydon will also feature in the semi-finals alongside partner Zac Alexander, with the duo finishing second in the pool (only losing to Colombia).
Pilley is also chasing gold in the men’s draw, where he is again yet to be beaten, this time with partner Ryan Cuskelly. The pair from New South Wales, who are defending champions in the event, defeated Australian siblings Nick and Tom Calvert to lock up top spot in Pool A.
“It was a pretty good match, it was tight early but as experienced campaigners we managed to get our way through and we’re happy to be through to the semis,” Cuskelly said.
The Calvert brothers faced a morning matchup against South Africa’s Jean-Pierre Brits and Christo Potgieter which effectively decided the other semi-finalist from the pool. The gritty South Africans prevailed 11-1 11-4 to finish second behind Pilley and Cuskelly. The South African pair have self-funded their trip and have provided some of the most entertaining matches of the tournament so far.
Brits and Potgieter will have to overcome the second seed Australian pairing of Zac Alexander (pictured below) and Rex Hedrick, who also cruised through their pool undefeated. Colombian pair Andrés Herrera and Juan Camilo Vargas will also progress to the semi-finals.
“We are excited to have made the semis and it was great to play against Zac and Rex and I think we played ok,” said Vargas.
“Tomorrow will be a good match against Pilley and Cuskelly and we’ll give it everything.”
In the women’s round robin competition, Australia is on track to claim both gold and silver with Donna Lobban/Christine Nunn (top) and Sarah Cardwell/Jessica Turnbull (second) topping the pool. Colombian sisters Maria and Laura Tovar continue to sit in the bronze medal position and will face the second placed Australians on day four.
Top Seeds Shine On Day Two Of World Doubles Championships In Australia
The tournament’s top seeds flexed their muscle on day two of the WSF World Doubles Squash Championships at Carrara Squash Centre on the Gold Coast in Australia, with the top-seeded pairs in both the men’s and women’s draws remaining undefeated.
Men’s top seeds, Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly and Cameron Pilley won both matches to sit undefeated (3/0) at the top of Pool A.
The duo from New South Wales, defeated the Canadian pair of Madison Eggert and Thomas King 11-5 11-5 in the morning session, before backing up with an 11-5 11-5 win against Robert Garcia and David Pelino of the Philippines.
“The guy on the left (Garcia) was actually pretty skilful, he was a really good player”, said Cuskelly (pictured above) after the match.
The defending world champions will face Queensland brothers Tom and Nick Calvert next, with the debutants looking to lock up a semi-final spot alongside their higher ranked compatriots.
The fourth-seeded Calverts also defeated Canada 11-6 11-8 but face a do-or-die match against South Africa’s Jean-Pierre Brits and Christo Potgieter on day three – with the winner of that match expected to finish second in Pool A. The South African pair continued a strong tournament, surviving a tough match against Garcia and Pelino (11-5 8-11 11-9) to move to a 2/1 record for the tournament (after a loss against Cuskelly/Pilley).
In Men’s Pool B, Australians Zac Alexander and Rex Hedrick look set to top the pool after defeating the spirited Sri Lankan pairing of Ravindu Laksiri and Shamil Wakeel 11-5 11-6.
The highlight of the women’s draw was an all-Australian clash between tournament top seeds Donna Lobban and Christine Nunn and debutants Taylor Flavell and Selena Shaikh.
The more fancied Australians took the match 11-3 11-6.
“I’m really pleased with how we played today actually,” Lobban (pictured above) said.
“We maybe struggled a little bit yesterday to get going after playing all weekend at the Aussie Open Doubles and I thought we were maybe a bit flat and not switched on yesterday so we made sure today that we were really up for it.”
Despite the scoreline, Flavell says there was plenty to like for the Victorian pair on debut.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking to start with for sure and it took us a while to get into the match but we got there in the end and started to hit where we wanted to”.
Colombia looks set to challenge the Australians in the race for medals, with sisters Laura and Maria Tovar impressive on day two. The third-seeded Colombian pairing defeated Jemyca Aribado and Aysah Dalida of the Philippines 11-4 11-7 to move to third in the women’s standings.
In the mixed doubles competition, 17-year-old Australian Ethan Eyles made his senior international debut, pairing with Christine Nunn to defeat Aribado and Garcia (Philippines) 11-4 11-10.
Colombian pair Catalina Pelaez and Matias Knudsen continue to look impressive as a mixed doubles duo, remaining undefeated after an 11-9 11-4 win over Australian’s Zac Alexander and Alex Haydon.
The event’s first upset took place in the Mixed battle between Aysah Dalida & Reymark Begornia of the Philippines and Malta’s Colette Sultana & Kijan Sultana – the No.7 seeds from the Philippines getting the better of the sixth-seeded Maltese pair 11-8, 11-10.
World Doubles images courtesy of Craig Stewart, Brisbane Sports Photography
Hosts Australia unbeaten on Day One
Hosts Australia made a perfect start to the WSF World Doubles Squash Championships at the Carrara Squash Centre on the Gold Coast, going through day one of the event undefeated.
Defending men’s doubles champions Cameron Pilley and Ryan Cuskelly from New South Wales were tested against South African pair Jean-Pierre Brits and Christo Potgieter. The Australian pair cruised through the opening game before a change of tactics from Brits and Potgieter saw them level the match. In the third, the Australian duo was too strong, winning 11-5.
Brothers Nicholas Calvert & Thomas Calvert (pictured above), both making their Australian senior debut, defeated the Philippines pairing of Robert Garcia and David Pelino 11-9 11-5. The Queenslanders won a marathon first game that took 27 minutes, before cruising through the second game to take the match.
In Pool B, Rex Hedrick and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Zac Alexander were too strong for Malaysia’s Darren Chan and Bryan Lim Tze Kang, with the Australian second seeds winning 11-7 11-9. The Colombian pairing of Andrés Herrera and Juan Camilo Vargas also are undefeated after day one, proving too strong for Sri Lanka’s top pair of Ravindu Laksiri and Shamil Wakeel 11-5 11-7.
In the women’s event, Australian top seeds Donna Lobban and Christine Nunn (pictured above) cruised past Colombian sisters Laura Tovar and Maria Tovar 11-8 11-5. It was a tougher test for the Australian second seeds, Sarah Cardwell and Jessica Turnbull who were stretched by Jemyca Aribado and Aysah Dalida of the Philippines. The Australian pairing, with Turnbull making her national senior debut, took the match 11-8 11-9.
Pilley and Lobban are again together in the mixed doubles competition, with the cousins from Yamba looking to add another gold medal to their mixed doubles success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The top seeds didn’t have it all their own way in their opening match though, with Aribado and Garcia (Philippines) proving tough opponents. The Australians took the first game 11-5, before coming from behind to claim the second 11-9.
Colombia’s Catalina Pelaez and Matias Knudsen thrashed the Maltese sibling pairing of Colette Sultana and Kijan Sultana 11-1 11-2. 17-year-old South Australian Alex Haydon was also a first day winner, joining with Alexander (who backed up immediately after his men’s doubles match) to defeat Aysah Dalida and Reymark Begornia (all pictured below) of the Philippines 11-6 11-9.
World Doubles images courtesy of Craig Stewart, Brisbane Sports Photography