Grafton to host squash champs
GRAFTON'S Big River Squash and Fitness centre will host the inaugural Trans-Tasman Squash Championships next week, with three local juniors taking part.
Local players Moana Gray and Nick Harris will represent the Open NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) team, with Cody Rediger playing in the junior competition.
This year's competition expands the previous Interstate Challenge between New South Wales and Queensland All Schools, to include an open team from New Zealand.
The junior event will be played between New South Wales and Queensland.
Gray is coming into the competition in good form, having won the NSW State Championships for the third consecutive time at the end of June.
"I'm very hopeful that we'll come out on top but it's not going to be easy," Gray said.
"It's the first time New Zealand has been a part of the competition, so it's going to be tough.
"I'm not certain who they've selected in their squad but I've played against a few girls in the World Junior Championships."
While Queensland has dominated the championship, winning eight of the past nine competitions, Gray would like nothing more than to go out a winner.
"Queensland have gotten the better of us in recent years, so it'd be good to get one back on them.
"It's my final year, and especially as captain, I'd love to get the ball back in our court."
Her success continues a rich history of squash in the Clarence Valley, a history her mother Tracey Gray continues to be a part of.
"Grafton and the Clarence Valley have had a very strong history of producing squash players," Gray said.
"Donna Urquhart, the Pilley brothers, even Anthony Don, who's now playing rugby league in Queensland, have all come from playing squash in this area. There's a very strong association with Grafton and South Grafton."
The former Interstate Challenge has been the stomping ground of several future world champions.
World No.15 Donna Urquhart played for New South Wales from 2000-04, when the state won the overall competition from 2000-03.
The Pilleys - Cameron, Morgan and Heather - also played prominent roles for New South Wales.
An ankle injury forced Urquhart to withdraw from the Australian Open last week despite qualifying for the quarter-finals. Following a swift recovery she's now in New Zealand competing.