Monday, December 4, 2023

Interview with rising Kiwi star Megan Craig

Megan Craig in action against Nicol David at the Commonwealth Games
Megan Craig in action against Nicol David at the Commonwealth Games

Megan Craig cracks top 40 a year after heart surgery

By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor

New Zealand’s Megan Craig was voted the PSA Female Player Of The Month after some impressive results bak home took her into the world top 40 for the first time. Here she tells Alan Thatcher about her life on and off court, and how she has recovered from heart surgery in the past year.


1: Hi Megan. Congratulations on breaking through to the world top 40 for the first time, and being voted the PSA female player of the month. It must feel good.
A: Sure does. I’m really stoked; I have been hoping to crack into the top 40 for a while now so feels good to finally get there. Now onto the top 30 ☺

2: Please tell us about your background in squash, where you started playing and where your training base is now?
A: I grew up in Blenheim, New Zealand. Both my parents played squash and me and my brother use to get dragged along to the courts with them with our McDonalds Happy Meals. Eventually it turned into us begging our parents to take us for a hit and it kind of all took off from there. I didn’t play my first tournament until I was 11 and after playing that I was hooked. I played every tournament I could and jumped at any opportunity for someone to give me a hit.
I am currently still based in Blenheim when I’m not away playing tournaments. I do some work and study as well as my training here.

3: Who are your main coaches, and do you have the luxury of a support team? Please feel free to give a shout-out to your sponsors.
A: At the moment I don’t really have a coach but my dad has always played a huge part in helping me with my game and does hours of setting up balls for me. I am really lucky my family is super supportive – my mum and dad, step parents, boyfriend, brother and sister. Also Lynda (camp mum) does an awesome job of keeping a few of us Kiwis in line when we are overseas.

I also would love to give a huge shout out to everyone in Blenheim who has supported me and helped me get to where I am today. They are absolutely amazing!! They have held fundraiser events for me, auctions, dinners, and tournaments. I am extremely lucky to live in such a supportive town and appreciate every bit of it. Also to Squash NZ, Harrow, Kustom Fitness, and Debbie the Webster.

Megan and her passport
Megan and her passport

4: Who are your favourite players, and why?
A: Definitely Nicol David. She is an amazing athlete and sportswomen both on and off the court. Absolutely love watching her play and I even managed to play her at the Commonwealth Games, so that was pretty amazing. Plus being World number 1 for nine years, that is a bloody impressive achievement.

5: They say life is a learning process. What are the main things you have learned from life on the professional tour? Are you happy to embrace change to improve your game?
A: It really makes you appreciate home. Nothing beats getting home to your own bed, home-made food, family, animals, and I can finally put my clothes in my drawers! I’ve learnt heaps about being organized, checking my passport isn’t EXPIRED and my flights are for the “right” month.

Yes, I’ve made both those mistakes, haha, but definitely is the best way to learn your lesson.
Living with no money at times, sleeping in airports, and living on spuds for the week.
Definitely open for change, anything to keep moving upwards!

Megan in hospital after heart surgery
Megan in hospital after heart surgery

6: I saw that you had a spell out of action after heart surgery. That sounds rather drastic for an athlete. Please fill us in on the details.
A: It was actually the week before we left to Commonwealth Games that they picked up that I had Wolf Parkinson White which is sort of like an extra loop on your heart which causes the blood to go the wrong way (something like that). Really grateful for the ECG we had to have done in the medical testings! I use to get really bad palpitations, which happened randomly, sometimes during training, having a shower, driving, any time really, and when it happened I pretty much couldn’t move and would go very pale. I’m so lucky they found it and that I never had a heart attack. The surgery went well and everything is ticking nicely now ☺.

7: Playing in the Commonwealth Games must have been an amazing feeling. What are your happiest memories of Glasgow 2014?
A: I went to the Commonwealth games before my surgery, and it was by far one of the best experiences of my life! Living in the athletes’ village, surrounded by hundreds of other athletes, and representing your country was a pretty amazing feeling.
The opening ceremony was unbelievable. Also the food hall was definitely one of my favorite places. I spent a lot of time there!
My best memory has to be playing Nicol David on the glass court in front of such a huge crowd and my family back home being able to watch.

Megan Craig in action against Nicol David at the Commonwealth Games
Megan Craig in action against Nicol David at the Commonwealth Games

8: Where did you end up partying after the Closing Ceremony?
A: I went to the closing ceremony, which finished about midnight, and I actually fell asleep after that. Haha, not much of a night owl!

9: You performed well in the recent New Zealand Series, which obviously helped to move you up the rankings. What were your best performances?
A: Definitely beating Siyoli Waters twice in massive five-setters both times. I really enjoyed the matches. She is an amazing sportswomen. I’ve never played someone so honest on court, which is a huge credit to her.

Th birds' nest
The birds’ nest goes on court!

10: Big serious squash question from one of your fans: How long do you take to do your hair in the mornings?
A: Haha, not the first time I’ve been asked about my birds’ nest. But to be quite honest I actually don’t do much with it at all.

I normally wake up with it like that and then it gets a wash at the end of day and put back up into its birds’ nest with lots of bobby pins … they are the key.

11: What are your plans and targets for the rest of 2015?
A: I head to Melbourne on the 28th of July for the Victorian Open and the Australian Open, which I’m really looking forward to playing and hoping for a couple of good wins at. Then back to New Zealand for our Nationals.
I’m just deciding whether I head to the States for a block of tournaments in October and then I’ll finish the year off with the World Champs in Malaysia, where I hope to make the main draw again after making it last year.
Then it will be time for a good break over summer!


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