Last week I travelled to Palmerston North, New Zealand to represent Australia at the World Team Championships. Our team included former World Champions, Rachael Grinham, Sarah Fitzgerald and coach, Michelle Martin, who along with myself and Donna Urquhart created a strong unit—seeded 2nd at the Championships. I felt very honoured to be part of such highly regarded players and was very motivated to do well for the team.
Our pool consisted of Japan, India and Ireland and our first match was against the 15th seed Japanese team. Rachael sat out the first day and the team won all their matches in straight games.
On day 2, we came up against 10th seed India, who decided to rest their top player, Dipika Palikal who was struggling with injury. Rachael, Donna and I played and all won convincingly in straight sets.
Our final pool match was against Ireland, who also rested their number 1 player, Madeline Perry, who was also injured. I sat out for Australia and once again, the team didn’t drop a set, placing Australia at the top of our pool and onto the quarter finals.
As the USA team created an upset win over Holland, we were drawn to play them in the quarter finals. I played first, defeating Latasha Khan 11/3, 11/5, 11/6 to put Australia up 1/0. Rachael was looking good at 2/0 against Natalie Grainger, but Grainger fought back well to win 12/10 in the 5th. We were not worried though as Sarah showed that she is still a top player and won convincingly against the up and coming Olivia Blatchford 11/4, 11/1, 11/2.
After another upset with Malaysia defeating the defending champions, Egypt, we were drawn up against the team consisting of Nicol David, Low Wee Wern, Delia Arnold and Sharon Wee. The Malaysian team rested Wee Wern which meant, Sarah came up against Sharon Wee. Sarah dominated with a 11/4, 13/11, 11/7 win. Rachael was always going to have a tough time against World Number 1, Nicol David, and lost in 3 sets. I was the last to play and was trying to forget about everything but the game ahead. I knew it would be tough against Delia but I managed to stay strong throughout the match and win 11/7, 11/3, 12/10. With England winning their semi final 2/1 against the New Zealand Team, it set up another Australia/England final, which has occurred many times throughout the tournament’s history.
The playing order was 3-1-2 which meant I was playing last. Sarah opened for Australia against Sarah Kippax and again showed her dominance by winning 11/4, 11/4, 11/4. It also meant Sarah did not lose a set in the whole tournament. Next, Rachael was drawn to play World Number 2, Jenny Duncalf who had been playing well throughout the event. Jenny won the match 11/7, 11/4, 11/9. This meant I was playing the deciding match against World Number 9, Laura Massaro. Again, I tried to forget about everything and just focussed on the match ahead. Nerves did show up a bit for both of us but I was able to win the first 2 games 11/6, 11/9. Laura is a very consistent player and I knew she would never give up and she showed that in her semi final match defeating Joelle King after being 0/2 down. She played well in our third game to win 11/8. Neither of us wanted to give any opening to the other, which created some interference down the wall. I’m sure my team were biting their fingernails and I had to fight hard to come back and win the 4th game 11/8, which meant Australia was once again the World Team Champion.
I felt so honoured to be part of an amazing team, led by coach Michelle Martin, whose leadership and advice was instrumental to Australia’s victory.
Kasey Brown xx