It’s less than one week before the women’s Australian team takes to the court at the Madinaty Sport Club, Cairo, Egypt, for the 2022 WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championships.
Between 10-16 December, the Australian quartet of Donna Lobban, Jess Turnbull, Sarah Cardwell and Alex Haydon will compete alongside 16 other teams in the premier international squash tournament in the women’s game. The biennial event has not been held since 2018 due to COVID-19 and returns with the traditional format of four-player squads from each country battling it out in best-of-three-match clashes.
The Australian team placed ninth in 2018, when the Championships were held in Dalian, China. National champion Jess Turnbull is the only new face in the Australian team for 2022 as Lobban, Cardwell and Haydon were on the squad that competed in China.
Despite having already donned the green and gold at two World Doubles Championships, a Commonwealth Games and the recent Nations Cup, Turnbull is making her Women’s World Team Championships debut, continuing on a journey that is seeing her emerge as the leader of the next group of Australian women.
“I think this season has prepared me quite well,” Turnbull said. “I have had a few of what I consider to be breakthrough wins recently, so it has boosted my confidence for sure. Having that experience behind me, now for big events, I won’t be so shellshocked walking on,” Turnbull said.
“I’m honoured to get the opportunity to wear the green and gold again. Nothing better than representing Australia.”
While Turnbull is making her debut at the event,Sarah Cardwell is competing for the fourth time and Donna Lobban is taking to the court at the Women’s World Team Championships for the sixth time. It will be a full circle moment for Lobban, who played in the World Junior event in Cairo, 2003 and also made her senior women’s team debut in Egypt, in 2008.
“It’s crazy to think, I remember my first time playing for the Australian senior team in 2008 and it was such an exciting thing to be a part of and something I had been dreaming about,” Lobban said.
“Playing for Australia means the world to me and is always a huge honour and probably the most exciting thing about what I get to do playing squash.”
“My preparation has been so far so good. I have probably taken a step back from playing as many PSA tournaments as I usually would, however I’ve still had a lot of competitive opportunities, like the Australian Open, French league matches and PSL matches in the UK.
“I’m feeling good, my body is feeling good and probably because I haven’t been killing myself as usually on the tour. So I’m feeling fit and ready for it.”
Coach Stewart Boswell added that the Australian team is looking forward to competing at the event again, with the three-match format being quite different from that of PSA tournaments.
“There’s always an added element of excitement and unpredictability that comes with playing in a team event,” Boswell said.
“The main focus for the team will be on each player individually performing at their best, whoever they’re playing. Hopefully in doing so we can pick up some wins, make it difficult for some of the top teams and finish higher than our seeding for the event.”
Completing the lineup is Alex Haydon who, at just 21 years old, is the youngest member of the team. Boswell said it’s fantastic that young athletes have the opportunity to compete for the country on the international stage and get to test themselves against the world’s best.
Despite her young age, Haydon is already competing in her second Women’s World Team Championships.
“Being in this type of environment and experiencing the pressure and the buzz of playing for their teammates and Australia can only help them improve as players. Hopefully it also gives them further motivation to strive for future success at the very top level,” Boswell said.
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The Women’s World Team Squash Championship is a biennial international tournament which sees four-player squads from each country battle it out in best-of-three-match ties. This year’s championship will take place in Madinaty Sports Club, Cairo, Egypt from 10-16 December.