After last winning the title in 2004 – and finishing in 10th place two years later – Australia re-established their authority in women’s world squash by beating England in today’s final of the Women’s World Team Championship in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
The second seeds’ 2/1 win over favourites England extends Australia’s record to nine titles in the 17 World Squash Federation championships since 1979.
Sarah Fitz-Gerald, the five times world champion who came out of retirement to play this event, gave the Aussies a perfect start with an 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 demolition of Sarah Kippax in the opening match at the International Pacific College.
However, England’s world number two Jenny Duncalf hauled the top seeds back into the tie with an 11-7, 11-4, 11-9 win over Australian number one Rachael Grinham to send the final into a decider between Laura Massaro, the world No9, and Kasey Brown, the Australian number two ranked two places higher.
Brown raced to a 2/0 lead, but Massaro has already proven she can fight back after pegging New Zealander Joelle Kingback yesterday. Once again, the 27-year-old from Preston showed her grit, taking the third. However, Brown would not be denied, reclaiming the ascendancy in the fourth to close out an 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8 victory.
Brown, who played in 2006 when the team finished 10th and again in 2008 when they finished 6th, is thrilled to have taken her side over the line.
“This is the first time I’ve been part of the winning team – we’ve had such a big history in squash, it feels amazing to be part of it.”
Brown says the return of Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Rachael Grinham have played a huge part in the success. She says team manager Michelle Martin also deserves a lot of the credit.
Meanwhile, it was a disappointing final day for hosts New Zealand.
After going close to beating England in the semi-finals, the fourth seeds had to settle for fourth, following a 2/1 loss toMalaysia.
Shelley Kitchen finished the event unbeaten after an 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 win over Malaysian Sharon Wee, but Jaclyn Hawkes was predictably beaten in straight games by world number one Nicol David.
Low Wee Wern and Joelle King were left to decide the bronze medal. Just three days ago they squared off in pool play with King winning in four, but this time the Malaysian turned the tables with an 11-13, 11-2, 11-8, 11-1 victory.
The win gives Malaysia their third successive third-place finish.
Earlier, third-seeded Egypt – the defending champions – ended the Championships on a high, with a straightforward two-nil win over France in the playoff for fifth place.
Despite the defeat, sixth place still gives France their best ever finish in 13 appearances since 1987.