Three Countries Line Up For Doubles Medals In Melbourne

24 Mar 06

New Zealand, England and hosts Australia will contest the semi-finals in all three squash doubles events after a late conclusion to an packed day of Commonwealth Games action at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

England's defending champions Lee Beachill & Peter Nicol were taken to the wire in the last Men's Doubles quarter-final before triumphing 8-10, 9-2, 9-2, 3-9, 9-6 in 87 minutes over eighth-seeded Scots Harry Leitch & John White. The second seeds now face Australia's No3 seeds Dan Jenson & David Palmer for a place in their second successive final.

Afterwards Nicol said: "We haven't played a really competitive match together for four years. When we played well we played very well, but in the fourth game we were like zombies and didn't communicate at all.

"The last game was hard, and if we didn't know each other so well, we definitely wouldn't have won. We get the best out of each other."

New Zealand secured an unexpected place in the other semi-final when Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight prevailed in a 123-minute marathon battle against England's fourth seeds Nick Matthew & James Willstrop. The kiwi pair, listed at 132 and 121, respectively, in the world (singles) rankings - but bronze medal winners in January's World Doubles Championships in Melbourne - beat the experienced Englishmen 9-4, 5-9, 9-5, 9-6.

Grayson & Knight will face top seeds Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts in a repeat of the January semi-final. The Australian pair faced their first real battle in this event when they went 2/1 down to seventh seeds Rodney Durbach & Adrian Hansen. The event favourites ultimately took the upper hand, beating the South Africans 9-7, 6-9, 7-9, 9-7, 9-5 in 98 minutes.

The Women's event saw the conclusion of the qualifying matches in the two pools - with Australian sisters Natalie Grinham & Rachael Grinham, the favourites, beating New Zealand's fourth seeds Louise Crome & Lara Petera 9-4, 11-9, 7-9, 9-4, then Papa New Guineans Naluge Guy & Eli Webb 9-5, 9-3, 9-2 to take top position in Pool 1.

Top slot in the other pool went to the second-seeded pair Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey - but only after the New Zealanders eked out a 6-9, 9-6, 9-6, 5-9, 9-5 victory in 75 minutes over England's third seeds Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright.

The Grinhams will take on Bailey and Botwright in one semi-final, while Kitchen & Leevey will face compatriots Crome & Petera in the other - which will guarantee at last a silver medal to New Zealand.

Top seeds Rachael Grinham & David Palmer clinched the last quarter-final slot in the mixed event minutes before midnight in the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. The Australians beat England's seventh seeds Alison Waters & Adrian Grant 9-1, 9-6, 11-9 and will now face fellow countrymen Natalie Grinham & Joseph Kneipp for a place in the final. It will be the second time in a few days that Rachael has had to battle against her sister since Natalie beat her older sibling in last week's women's singles final.

The other mixed semi-final will also feature two players who will also compete in the women's semi-finals. Second seeds Shelley Kitchen & Glen Wilson take on England's fourth seeds Vicky Botwright & James Willstrop - with New Zealander Glen Wilson aiming to repeat the gold medal success he achieved with Leilani Joyce in the 2002 Games in Manchester.

In the quarter-finals, Kitchen & Wilson beat South Africans Diana Argyle & Craig van der Wath 9-4, 9-3, 9-5, while the English pair put paid to an all-Kiwi semi by defeating sixth seeds Lara Petera & Callum O'Brien 6-9, 9-5, 9-7, 9-6.

Men's Doubles - Quarter-finals:
[1] Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts (AUS) bt [7] Rodney Durbach & Adrian Hansen (RSA) 9-7, 6-9, 7-9, 9-7, 9-5 (98m)
[5] Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight (NZL) bt [4] Nick Matthew & James Willstrop (ENG) 9-4, 5-9, 9-5, 9-6 (123m)
[3] Dan Jenson & David Palmer (AUS) bt [6] David Evans & Alex Gough (WAL) 9-6, 9-2, 7-9, 9-7 (101m)
[2] Lee Beachill & Peter Nicol (ENG) bt [8] Harry Leitch & John White (SCO) 8-10, 9-2, 9-2, 3-9, 9-6 (87m)

Women's Doubles: 3rd qualifying round - Pool 1:
[1] Natalie Grinham & Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [4] Louise Crome & Lara Petera (NZL) 9-4, 11-9, 7-9, 9-4 (61m)
Karen Anderson & Marlene West (JAM) bt Naluge Guy & Eli Webb (PNG) 9-5, 9-6, 10-8 (31m)
[1] Natalie Grinham & Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Naluge Guy & Eli Webb (PNG) 9-5, 9-3, 9-2 (14m)
Pool 2
Frania Gillen-Buchert & Louise Philip (SCO) bt Nirasha Guruge & Tehani Guruge (SRI) 9-1, 9-11, 9-7, 9-3 (35m)
[3] Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt [6] Kasey Brown & Amelia Pittock (AUS) 7-9, 9-1, 9-3, 9-7 (54m)
[2] Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey (NZL) bt Frania Gillen-Buchert & Louise Philip (SCO) 9-6, 9-1, 9-4 (23m)
[2] Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey (NZL) bt [3] Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright (ENG) 6-9, 9-6, 9-6, 5-9, 9-5 (75m)

Mixed Doubles: Quarter-finals:
[1] Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS) bt [7] Alison Waters & Adrian Grant (ENG) 9-1, 9-6, 11-9 (47m)
[3] Natalie Grinham & Joseph Kneipp (AUS) bt [9] Tegwen Malik & Gavin Jones (WAL) 9-7, 7-9, 9-5, 9-5 (57m)
[4] Vicky Botwright & James Willstrop (ENG) bt [6] Lara Petera & Callum O'Brien (NZL) 6-9, 9-5, 9-7, 9-6 (69m)
[2] Shelley Kitchen & Glen Wilson (NZL) bt [8] Diana Argyle & Craig van der Wath (RSA) 9-4, 9-3, 9-5 (37m)