Cameron Pilley loads up for a strong backhand shot against teammate and compatriot Ryan Cuskelly.
Cameron Pilley loads up for a strong backhand shot against teammate and compatriot Ryan Cuskelly. PSA Squash

Pilley draws first blood at World Championships

SQUASH: Cameron Pilley has begun his quest to world championships glory in the best way possible dispatching of compatriot Ryan Cuskelly 3-1 in the first round overnight.

It was a fitting finish for the World No. 21, who won a World Doubles Title alongside Cuskelly on the same courts at the National Squash Centre in Manchester earlier this year.

Pilley opened up a two-game cushion as he took control from the outset of the match, before World No.14 Cuskelly battled back to dominate and take the third.

But that was the only shining light for the Evans Head squash star as Yamba-born Pilley managed to regain control as he returned to the game plan that had served him well.

Pilley closed out the contest in the fourth round to take an 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6 win and secure a second round berth in the AJ Bell PSA World Championships, where he will face Egypt's Karim Ali Fathi.

"Mentally it was very tough,” Pilley said after the match.

"We are pretty good mates and we grew up in the same part of Australia and it's always tough putting the friendship aside when you get on court.

"To make it worse, we were teammates last week at the World Teams and we were sharing a room all week, so, it was kind of one of those ones where you just have to put it aside and focus on the game.”

It has been a tough month for Pilley after he slipped outside the top 20 in the PSA World Rankings, but he has vowed to turn it around in Manchester.

"Looking at my draw, I would like to make the last 16 at least,” Pilley said. "I've made quarter finals of a World Champs before, so it would be great to outdo that result.

"There is a little bit extra focus and intent in the players' practice sessions for this tournament. Your preparation should be the same as any event but in the back of your mind you know it is the biggest tournament on the calendar.”

While his focus is squarely on the court, there is one six-month-old superfan back at home who is always in the back of his mind.

This is the first World Championships Pilley has played in since the birth of his first daughter Karla Hansen Pilley, and the heavy hitter hopes she brings him a little extra luck.

"It's definitely been different juggling training with looking after the little one but my wife Line has been amazing,” Pilley said.

"She knows what it takes to play and train at this level so I can still do my thing and then get home to Karla.

"My training is all about quality now, so I have reduced the number of sessions per week I train, but when I do train, I feel the focus and intensity has lifted.”

Fellow Yamba squash player and cousin Donna Urquhart plays her first round match against World No. 1 Nour El-Sherbini tonight.

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