Aussies Palmer and Grinham pursue Commonwealth Games medals record
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Reporter in Glasgow
Only England and Australia have medal hopes in all three Doubles events after Thursday’s action-packed Commonwealth Games Squash schedule at the Scotstoun Sports Campus in Glasgow.
Men’s singles gold medallist Nick Matthew leads the England attack, while key to the Australian campaign are former world number ones David Palmer and Rachael Grinham, both of whom are poised to extend their record haul of six medals apiece since the sport’s Games debut in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Matthew and Adrian Grant, winners of the Men’s Doubles gold medal in 2010 in Delhi, beat Jamaicans Christopher Binnie & Bruce Burrowes 11-6, 11-5 to set up a quarter-final clash with Welshmen Peter Creed & David Evans.
Together, Palmer and Grinham eased into the Mixed Doubles last eight after beating Tesni Evans and Creed 11-5, 11-4, while Grinham partnered Kasey Brown into the Women’s Doubles semi-finals and Palmer and Cameron Pilley made it through to the men’s quarters.
The day began well for the hosts in the men’s doubles where Scotland’s second pairing Stuart Crawford & Greg Lobban thrilled the partisan crowd by upsetting India’s No7 seeds Saurav Ghosal & Harinder Pal Sandhu 11-5, 8-11, 11-9.
Inspired by this success shortly afterwards, the country’s top duo Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch, the fourth seeds, despatched Zambians Mwinga Lengwe & Kelvin Ndhlovu 11-4, 11-4.
Commenting on the earlier upset, Crawford said: “We knew it was going to be a tough match, but we’ve been playing well so we were quietly confident. We’ve done a lot of doubles training in the last year and a half so we definitely felt we had a good chance of beating them.”
Lobban, 21, delivered the match-winning shot – a backhand slam into the front right nick. “Greg’s a very naturally-talented and gifted player which I think the last shot of the match proved,” continued Crawford, Scotland’s 33-year-old assistant national coach.
“I think we’ve got a really good balance of youth and experience and his explosiveness and my steady calming influence works really well. He can sometimes get a bit fiery.
“He’s an awesome talent and I can’t wait to watch him progress over the rest of this tournament and over the singles tour over the next ten years.”
Ghosal, the world No16 who reached the singles semi-finals, said: ” It’s very hard – we lost and we are out now. They came out better in the first game and in the second we were better than them – and in the third it was neck and neck.”
When asked to comment on squad member Mahesh Mangaonkar’s statement on Twitter the previous day that ‘if India doesn’t win a medal in the squash doubles then I will do 10 court sprints with just my underwear on the show court’, Ghosal said: “That was one of the funniest tweets I’ve ever seen.
“Hopefully we’ll spare him the embarrassment!”
Clyne admitted that his fellow countrymen’s win gave him and Leitch a lift: “They really got pumped up and got a good win – that spurred us on.”
The seasoned pair reached the 2010 semi-finals in Delhi, since when part-timer Leitch has graduated in medicine and now also has a PhD – and starts work as a junior doctor two days after the Games finish.
“He’s really good at cross court nicks and straight nicks,” said world No35 Clyne of his partner. “He’s really good attacking-wise but he’s also really strong in the head – I know he’s never going to let us down. We work really well together as a team. I probably use my pace more and he’s got the power.”
A later men’s doubles upset saw the balance of power in New Zealand men’s squash disturbed when underdogs Lance Beddoes & Paul Coll beat fellow Kiwis Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight, the fifth seeds, 11-7, 12-10.
“You have to put aside that they’re your mates and get on with the match. It was a pretty clean match today,” said a delighted Beddoes afterwards. “It’s definitely a different game – if you look at the rankings, they are 42 and 46, whereas I think we are 136 and 72! It’s definitely a leveller.”
Knight went on to partner Joelle King to victory in the last 16 round of the Mixed Doubles, the second-seeded pairing beating Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold & Valentino Bon Jovi Bong 11-1, 11-6 to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
“It was probably the toughest draw we could have had – they were grossly under-seeded,” said Knight of his earlier domestic battle. “We were under no illusions about the task we had – we only just beat them in a recent Tri-Nations final, in a tough 2/1.”
On the new-format doubles, the world No44 from Wellington added: “I like the lower tin – it encourages attacking squash. It’s pretty unforgiving. I would actually like to see it go back to best-of-five. You can get some exceptionally quick matches.
“The stadium here is awesome. The crowds have been really good all week for both the singles and doubles – it’s a great atmosphere.”
King’s mixed victory with Knight immediately followed her shock defeat with Amanda Landers-Murphy in the Women’s Doubles. Defending her Delhi gold medal, King went down 11-9, 11-5 to fifth-seeded Indians Joshana Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal.
“When you’re in these events, you have matches back-to-back and you have to deal with it,” said the world No4, the bronze medallist in the singles. “I think we’re both quite good at putting what’s happened behind us and just moving on.”
But it is only England who already have a certain doubles medal to their credit after Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro and Emma Beddoes & Alison Waters set up an all-English women’s doubles semi-final.
Top seeds Duncalf & Massaro beat Australian pair Lisa Camilleri & Donna Urquhart 11-7, 11-4, while third seeds Beddoes & Waters defeated Malaysians Nicol David & Low Wee Wern 11-10, 11-8 – thus bringing two-time women’s singles gold medallist David’s Glasgow 2014 run to an end.
“That’s probably the best we’ve played since Delhi,” said Massaro afterwards. “We’ve always said when the medals get on it, we’d bring our best game out and that was good.”
Commenting on the all-English semi, Games debutante Beddoes said: “We obviously know their game well and they know our game well. Hopefully it will be a great game and we hope to come out on the right side of it.”
FACT FILE: Squash first appeared in the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in 1998 and has featured in every Games since, visiting Manchester, Melbourne,. Delhi and now Glasgow
Three players have won six medals in the Commonwealth Games squash competitions, Peter Nicol, from Inverurie, and two Australians, David Palmer and Rachael Grinham. They are teaming up in the Mixed Doubles, with Palmer also partnering Cam Pilley in the Men’s Doubles.
So the race is on among those two Australians to see who can be the most decorated Commonwealth Games squash player in history.
Commonwealth Games Doubles, Scotstoun Campus, Glasgow title (i.e. First Round):
Men’s Doubles, last 16 round::
 Adrian Grant & Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Christopher Binnie & Bruce Burrowes (JAM) 11-6, 11-5 (19m)
 Peter Creed & David Evans (WAL) bt  Valentino Bon Jovi Bong & Ivan Yuen (MAS) 11-3, 11-2 (23m)
 Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch (SCO) bt  Mwinga Lengwe & Kelvin Ndhlovu (ZAM) 11-4, 11-4 (15m)
 Ryan Cuskelly & Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt  Micah Franklin & Nicholas Kyme (BER) 11-4, 11-4 (22m)
 Lance Beddoes & Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight (NZL) 11-7, 12-10 (42m)
 Daryl Selby & James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Scott Fitzgerald & David Haley (WAL) 11-1, 11-9 (26m)
 Stuart Crawford & Greg Lobban (SCO) bt  Saurav Ghosal & Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) 11-5, 8-11, 11-9 (51m)
 David Palmer & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Bradley Hindle & Daniel Zammit-Lewis (MLT) 11-4, 11-3 (23m)
Women’s Doubles, quarter-finals:
 Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Lisa Camilleri & Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-7, 11-4 (18m)
 Emma Beddoes & Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Nicol David & Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-10, 11-8 (29m)
 Joshana Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt  Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 11-9, 11-5 (26m)
 Kasey Brown & Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt  Tesni Evans & Deon Saffery (WAL) 11-10, 11-6 (34m)
Mixed Doubles, 3rd qualifying round:
 Rachel Arnold & Valentino Bon Jovi Bong (MAS) bt Nicolette Fernandes & Alexander Arjoon (GUY) 11-9, 11-9 (22m)
 Alex Clark & Kevin Moran (SCO) bt Nick Taylor & Sarah Taylor (JEY) w/o
 Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS) bt Sharon Chimfwembe & Manda Chilambwe (ZAM) 11-2, 11-1 (12m)
 Madeline Perry & Michael Craig (NIR) bt Marlene West & Cameron Stafford (CAY) 10-11, 11-8, 11-2 (33m)
 Alison Waters & Peter Barker (ENG) bt Colette Sultana & Bradley Hindle (MLT) 11-2, 11-3 (11m)
 Tesni Evans & Peter Creed (WAL) bt Charlotte Knaggs & Kale Wilson (TRI) 11-2, 11-5 (11m)
 Samantha Cornett & Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Naduni Gunawardane & Ravindu Laksiri (SRI) 11-0, 11-9 (9m)
 Deon Saffery & David Evans (WAL) bt Kerrie Sample & Colin Ramasra (TRI) 11-1, 11-6 (17m)
 Sarah Kippax & Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Vanessa Florens & Xavier Koenig (MRI) 11-6, 11-4 (14m)
 Joshana Chinappa & Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) bt Eli Webb & Schubert Maketu (PNG) 11-5, 11-4 (10m)
 Frania Gillen-Buchert & Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Eilidh Bridgeman & Daniel Murphy (CAY) 11-1, 11-1 (10m)
 Delia Arnold & Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Lynette Vai & Madako Junior Suari (PNG) 11-10, 11-3 (16m)
Last 16 round:
 Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Alex Clark & Kevin Moran (SCO) 11-2, 11-10
 Amanda Landers-Murphy & Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Frania Gillen-Buchert & Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (51m)
 Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Tesni Evans & Peter Creed (WAL) 11-5, 11-4 (23m)
 Dipika Pallikal & Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt  Deon Saffery & David Evans (WAL) 11-8, 11-4 (30m)
 Sarah Kippax & Daryl Selby (ENG) bt  Samantha Cornett & Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-7, 11-8 (29m)
 Alison Waters & Peter Barker (ENG) bt  Madeline Perry & Michael Craig (NIR) 11-5, 10-11, 11-8 (43m)
 Joshana Chinappa & Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) bt  Delia Arnold & Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-8, 11-9 (27m)
 Joelle King & Martin Knight (NZL) bt  Rachel Arnold & Valentino Bon Jovi Bong (MAS) 11-1, 11-6 (18m)
Men’s quarter-final line-up:
 Adrian Grant & Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Peter Creed & David Evans (WAL)
 Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch (SCO) v  Ryan Cuskelly & Matthew Karwalski (AUS)
 Daryl Selby & James Willstrop (ENG) v  Lance Beddoes & Paul Coll (NZL)
 David Palmer & Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Stuart Crawford & Greg Lobban (SCO)
Women’s semi-final line-up:
 Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Emma Beddoes & Alison Waters (ENG)
 Kasey Brown & Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Joshana Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal (IND)
Mixed quarter-final line-up:
 Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Amanda Landers-Murphy & Paul Coll (NZL)
 Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS) v  Dipika Pallikal & Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Alison Waters & Peter Barker (ENG) v  Sarah Kippax & Daryl Selby (ENG)
 Joelle King & Martin Knight (NZL) v  Joshana Chinappa & Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND)