Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch pulled off a major upset on the first day of knockout action in the Commonwealth GamesSquash Doubles when the Scots downed England’s third seeds Peter Barker & Daryl Selby in straight games to reach the Men’s Doubles semi-finals for the first time at the Siri Fort Complex in Delhi.
Barker, the world No8 who won the singles bronze medal last week, and his Essex close friend Selby, ranked 10 in the world, were highly regarded as doubles medal prospects in the Indian capital.
But Scotland – which boasts only one doubles court, off the Scottish coast on the Shetland Islands – has targeted doubles as its specialist area. Unranked Leitch, a postgraduate medical student at Cambridge University, and Clyne, the world No50 from Inverness, showed this conclusively as the pair carved up the experienced Englishmen 11-7, 11-7 in 69 minutes.
“Doubles is so different from singles – and we’ve worked really hard on it,” said an ecstatic Leitch afterwards. “We fight for each other – and as I don’t play full-time, maybe I just want it more than the others.
“When you get to the quarter-finals, it’s tiny things that make the difference,” added the Edinburgh-born 25-year-old who is studying for a PhD in developmental and embryonic stem cell biology.
So how does this win rate amongst his career squash successes? “This is it. The highlight before was making the quarter-finals with John White in 2006 – so this surpasses that!
“I consider myself very lucky that I get his opportunity to play for Scotland,” concluded Leitch.
It was a crestfallen Barker who tried to describe what had happened: “It’s not squash – it’s a totally different game. Technique doesn’t come into it – especially on these courts,” said the 27-year-old left-hander.
“They’ve perfected the art of playing doubles. It’s frustrating, and embarrassing, to be honest.
“They just didn’t make any errors – and forced them out of us. It’s disappointing as I think we’d been playing alright.”
Earlier, second-seeded English pair Jenny Duncalf & James Willstrop made up for the disappointment of a shock Pool loss by beating Guernsey duo Zephanie Curgenven & Henry Birch 11-4, 11-2 to earn a place in the quarter-finals – where they will face the top-seeded Australians Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley.
“We had a day together to regroup after the dent – but we don’t take it as a dent,” explained Willstrop, silver medallist in the men’s singles event. “With all our previous results, we’ve got a better record than anyone in this event. We know we can beat anybody. We just want to put yesterday behind us and get on with it.”
Partner Jenny, also the women’s silver medallist, added: “We took a couple of things from yesterday and worked on them. I’m feeling good – despite the fact that this was my fourth match today!”
Indian hopes are now resting exclusively on the shoulders of Joshna Chinappa & Saurav Ghosal. The fourth seeds claimed a place in the last sixteen of the Mixed event after a final qualifying round win over Scottish pair Frania Gillen-Buchert & Alan Clyne – and were then handed a bye through to Tuesday’s quarter-finals.
The local stars will face Nicol David & Ong Beng Hee, the third seeds from Malaysia featuring the women’s gold medallist.
“Playing Nicol and Beng Hee is going to be a tough match – they are both very good,” said Ghosal, the world No26 from Chennai who is India’s highest-ranked player of all-time. “It’s going to be tough for us – we’ll have to play really well.
“Having the hopes of India on us won’t really change things – we want to win anyway. There’s pressure of course, but we’re both used to it and are able to handle it well. We can use the crowd support to our advantage.
“The crowd here is the best I have ever seen anywhere – all the players are talking about it, everyone is amazed,” added the 24-year-old. “It’ll make us play better – it’s going to make the occasion very special.”
Nicol David & Ong Beng Hee also suffered a surprise early pool defeat – but have bounced to reach the last four as expected following their 11-7, 11-3 defeat of England’s Sarah Kippax & Adrian Grant.
“I thought it was tough on Nicol to have to play against the seeded Scots straight after winning the gold medal, but she’s got better now that we’ve got into it,” said Ong Beng Hee, the Penang-born world No17.
“But we’re having great fun – and that’s what it’s all about.
“Nicol has got such speed and she hits the ball so well,” added the former world No7. “My job is to cover for her.”
For more info, visit the WSF’s dedicated Commonwealth Games site www.cwgsquash.com
Men’s Doubles quarter-finals:
 Adrian Grant & Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Mohd Azlan Iskandar & Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-5, 11-10 (82m)
 Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight (NZL) 11-9, 11-10 (88m)
 Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch (SCO) bt  Peter Barker & Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-7, 11-7 (69m)
 Stewart Boswell & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Lyall Paterson & Chris Small (SCO) 11-2, 11-2 (28m)
Women’s Doubles quarter-finals:
 Kasey Brown & Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt  Delia Arnold & Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-4, 11-9 (40m)
 Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Tamsyn Leevey & Kylie Lindsay (NZL) 11-4, 11-9 (44m)
 Lisa Camilleri & Amelia Pittock (AUS) bt  Lisa Aitken & Frania Gillen-Buchert (SCO) 11-9, 11-8 (49m)
 Jaclyn Hawkes & Joelle King (NZL) bt  Tania Bailey & Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-4, 9-11, 11-4 (55m)
Mixed Doubles last 16 round:
 Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bye
 Jenny Duncalf & James Willstrop (ENG) bt Zephanie Curgenven & Henry Birch (GGY) 11-4, 11-2 (13m)
 Lisa Aitken & Harry Leitch (SCO) bye
 Donna Urquhart & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Frania Gillen-Buchert & Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-5, 11-7 (41m)
 Nicol David & Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt  Sarah Kippax & Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-7, 11-3 (28m)
 Joshna Chinappa & Saurav Ghosal (IND) bye
 Jaclyn Hawkes & Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt  Sharon Wee & Ivan Yuen (MAS) 10-11, 11-3, 11-10 (60m)
 Joelle King & Martin Knight (NZL) bye
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