National title No 5 for Donna
By TONY WHITE
YAMBA'S princess of the squash courts Donna Urquhart crowned a highly successful junior career by winning her fifth Australian squash title in Ballarat, Victoria, over the long weekend.
The 18-year-old wonder child, twice winner of The Daily Examiner Sports Star of the Year Award (2002-03), was over the moon at her latest achievement, her five Australian titles believed to be a record for a female competitor.
"It was really good, I'm stoked," Urquhart said from the family's Yamba home yesterday. "I really didn't expect to win.
"This is most definitely my most cherished title. It means the most.
"Everyone wants to win the Under-19 title. It's the most prestigious in the junior ranks and especially as it is my last year as a junior."
Urquhart defeated her Brisbane AIS room mate Peta Hughes from Rockhampton 3-1 in the final.
After being walloped 1-9 in the opening game, Urquhart fought back to win the next three games 9-3, 9-1 and 9-3.
"I was really nervous at the start and played dreadfully," Urquhart said.
"Peta was playing really well. We're good mates but we always seem to be rivals on court."
Urquhart said she received some divine intervention of sorts which helped turn the match around after the first set.
"This means so much to me and it was for Scott also," she said of her brother who tragically died of cancer last year.
"Scott's always in the back of my mind.
"When I'm playing I always talk to him. I ask him to help me out. I know he's there for me."
Urquhart's win came at only her second tournament since returning from tendon damage to her ankle which kept her away from competitive squash for several months.
During her period of convalescence she missed competing in the World Junior Squash Titles and representing Australia in the Trans Tasman series in New Zealand.
"In my first tournament back I made the quarter finals at the North Coast Open at Coffs Harbour and won the Plate final to finish fifth," Urquhart said.
"I was quiet happy with that result and was lucky enough to turn it around at the Australian Titles."
The slender youngster has now won Australian Titles in Under-14s, Under-15s, Under-17s twice and the Under-19 title.
Urquhart also finished 5th in the Under-13s and 3rd in last year's Under-19 titles.
And to cap off a marvelous tournament Urquhart won the prestigious MC Hazell Award for the most outstanding female during the Australian Titles.
"It's like the Brownlow Medal," Urquhart said.
"Each day all the state coaches and referees give points to players on sportsmanship and outstanding performances.
"It's recognition from my peers and a very, very huge honour to win it."
Urquhart's next goal is the Australian Open Squash Titles in Melbourne in January and trying to improve her world open ranking.
"It's into the big time now. Everyone will be pushing to make the Commonwealth Games team," she said.
"I don't have any great expectations only to do as well as I can."
Grafton's other NSW team members Renee Skinner and Holly Butcher also performed admirably at the titles.
Skinner finished 8th in the Under-13s and Butcher 7th in the Under-15s.
The NSW team was managed by Big River Squash and Fitness Centre's Greg Don and Sydney-based Sue Doherty.
"Reneee did really well to handle all the attention and pressure at her first Australian Titles," Don said.
"It was Holly's second titles and she is starting to climb the ladder.
"As for Donna, well, what can you say. She's is just exceptional.
"She has been the dominant female player through Under-13s to Under-19s. It was a great achievement."