Stars give local squash a boost
YAMBA prodigy Donna Urquhart is hoping a return to her former stomping ground will inspire a junior revival at local squash level.
The 23-year-old, on the back of ‘the best year of my career so far’, returned to the Clarence region to deliver a message to youngsters: Don’t forget about squash as a sporting option.
“I’d love to be able to have time to do that (teach youngsters the sport) one day,” she said.
“I think it’s died off a bit in the last couple of years and I’d love to help it grow again.”
A career-high ranking of 22 is a good way to inspire the next generation.
Urquhart spends around nine months each year based in Europe – the past three in England – but jumped at the chance to enjoy the Christmas break with family in sunny Yamba.
“It’s unbelievable going home,” Urquhart said.
“It’s been good to get to the beach and into the surf again.
“I still had to do some training so I kept up some sort of fitness.”
Urquhart has targeted September’s women’s world championships in The Netherlands and October’s Commonwealth Games in India as top priorities for 2010.
Anything else will be a bonus.
“I guess you have got to be realistic and I’m 22 in the world but I want to be No. 1 but there’s a lot of hard work to do until then,” she said.
Fellow Clarence Valley squash star and Urquhart’s cousin Cameron Pilley, 27, is also looking forward following a “pretty good year” on the European circuit.
Big scalps in major tournaments saw his world ranking climb to 15 in November.
“At the start of the year I wanted to make the top 16 – that was a pretty big thing for me,” Pilley said.
“My game itself has really come on in 2009.
“At the end of the day you look at results but it’s not the results that you focus on.”
Pilley returned to Yamba last month after a ‘cultural learning curve’ in Dubai recently.
He spends nine months each year at his Netherlands base but enjoys nothing more than returning home.
“I felt like my body needed a rest. I played golf and went to the beach,” the former Australia under-19 champion said.
“One of the best things about arriving home is hearing someone at the airport say ‘G’day mate, how you going?’. I love coming home, even if it’s only twice each year.”
Despite adding a few Christmas kilograms, Pilley thinks his game can go even higher in 2010.
One area remains the key.
“My consistency. I made that a goal in 2008 and it did improve but at the same time I had some good wins,” he said.