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15 Apr 2024

Brown Bidding To Extend Australian Record In Penang

14 Mar 2014

Former world No5 Kasey Brown is leading the Australian attack in next week's Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship in Malaysia and hoping to extend the country's record of seven winners of the premier event on the Women's Squash Association (WSA) World Tour.

The $120,000 championship is being staged in Penang for the first time in its 35-year history. After qualifying at the Nicol David International Squash Centre, the first round gets underway on an all-glass showcourt at the SPICE Arena on Tuesday (18 March), leading to the final on Sunday 23 March.

Australia's legendary Heather McKay became the inaugural women's world champion in 1979, and was followed by a distinguished line of fellow Australian winners including Rhonda Thorne, Vicki Cardwell, three-time champion Michelle Martin, Carol Owens, five times champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Rachael Grinham.

"I feel my form has been good leading into the World Championships but the level of the WSA players is increasing so rapidly, which is great for the sport," said Brown as she prepared to travel to Penang.

"The competition is tough so it will be a very exciting event. Squash is a constant learning process and is why the game is so great.

"Every game you play gives you a little more insight into what you need to do to improve and you have to take that information and apply it to your training and upcoming matches."

Brown, the No12 seed, will face Egypt's Nour El Sherbini in the World Championship's first round.

El Sherbini is unseeded for this event, but in their two meetings last year the Egyptian triumphed over the Australian.

Brown's three first-round losses this year stands in stark contrast to her barnstorming start to 2013, when she made the final of the Tournament of Champions and the semis at the Greenwich Open.

It's not that her form has dropped off. It's more a reflection of the extraordinary depth in women's squash now.

"You can't just look at the top five because there are so many dangerous players on the women's tour," said the 28-year-old, currently ranked 14 in the world.

"It's about being consistent and that is why the top five are ranked where they are."

It's been an interesting journey for the girl from Taree in New South Wales who now calls Greenwich in the United States home.

She fell in love with the sport helping her mum out at the local squash court she managed, and quickly progressed through the Australian junior and senior rankings.

In January, Brown was elected President of the Women's Squash Association, a role she's really looking forward to.

Brown, winner of three medals including gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, was a logical choice for the role. She's shown in the past she's prepared to stand up for herself and for women's squash generally, and is setting some pretty important goals for her term in the top job.

"I've learnt a lot since being elected as the President of WSA and have been overwhelmed by the amount of support the association has received," Brown said.

"It is challenging but everyone has the sport's best interest at heart and wants to see the tour and squash as a whole grow and evolve. My aim is to grow the tour and the sport and see players rewarded more for all of the hard work they put in.

"WSA aims to work closely with all Associations to increase the profile of the sport and I'd love to see the sport be granted a place in the Olympics."

Two other Australians have made the main draw in Penang: Queensland's former world number one Rachael Grinham and Donna Urquhart from New South Wales - ranked 15 and 26, respectively, in the world.

Next week marks a significant milestone for Grinham: it's 20 years this year since she contested her first World Championship.

Matches from the first round will be streamed live via the official event website www.simplythebest.my/