Selection dramas force Urquhart out of Games single's draw

DROPPED: Yamba's Donna Urquhart was dropped from the women's singles draw and will now only compete in the women's doubles.
DROPPED: Yamba's Donna Urquhart was dropped from the women's singles draw and will now only compete in the women's doubles. Jojo Newby

WHEN the draw for the Commonwealth Games squash competition was released on July 17, Donna Urquhart's name was suspiciously missing from the women's singles event.

The 27-year-old Yamba squash star was set to compete in the singles and doubles event but when the draw was released she was listed only as a doubles entrant with Lisa Camilleri.

A Fairfax report published yesterday revealed Urquhart had been replaced in the women's singles by Sarah Cardwell.

Urquhart learnt of the decision just days after winning the 2014 Victorian Open a fortnight ago.

The report revealed Urquhart had engaged Sydney lawyer Chris Barnes after Cardwell, the daughter of Squash Australia director Vicki Cardwell, was awarded the third singles berth in the Australian team ahead of Urquhart and Camilleri.

Barnes claimed Cardwell had originally only been included in the squad in case of injuries but a decision was made to cut world No.25-ranked Urquhart after team officials discovered they could not have a non-playing member in the squad.

"They sat her down and said 'actually we're now going to pull you out of the singles'," Barnes, who is also vice-president of NSW Squash, told Fairfax.

"The reason was that they stuffed up and didn't realise that they couldn't take a player over who wasn't going to play in an event.

"At that stage Sarah Cardwell was the reserve but they told (Urquhart) they were putting her in the singles instead, even though she's ranked massively below Donna and Donna had beaten her about two days beforehand."

Urquhart beat Cardwell in the quarter-finals of the Victorian Open and went on to upstage Australian No.1 Rachel Grinham in the final.

The Commonwealth Games has turned into a publicity nightmare for Squash Australia with news of Urquhart's replacement breaking a day after Zac Alexander was booted from the men's doubles team.

Alexander was told to leave the athlete's village immediately on the morning of the Opening Ceremony after an appeal by fellow Australian representative Matthew Karwalski was upheld.

Karwalski will now partner Evans Head's Ryan Cuskelly in the men's doubles.

Squash Australia powerbrokers have indicated Urquhart was withdrawn from the single's event to allow her to focus on the doubles event with a podium finish in mind.

"I can tell you I spoke to the selection committee about the Donna situation and they were appalled and they said 'no we should be putting our best singles players in'," Barnes said.

'This isn't anything against Sarah Cardwell. If they did this from the start then (Urquhart) might have been able to cop it.

"What she has found hard is knowing from April (she was playing singles) and training her guts out, to the point that she was on a roll and won the Victorian Open, and the next day being sat down and told 'you're not playing'."

Cardwell's Games campaign lasted only one match, beaten 11-5 11-7 11-7 by Canadian Sam Cornett in the first round.

Meanwhile, Yamba product Cameron Pilley's focus has shifted to the doubles events after he was knocked out of the men's singles draw.

Pilley lost to England's Peter Barker 11-8 11-4 11-5 in the quarter finals. He will partner Australian legend David Palmer in the men's doubles and Rachel Grinham in the mixed doubles.

Topics:  commonwealth games donna urquhart squash