Urquhart to fire in top end

FORMER Yamba player Donna Urquhart heads the seedings for this weekend's Top End Open squash tournament in Darwin, the opening event on the Australian professional circuit.

Urquhart goes into the women's event as a firm favourite.

Urquhart, ranked 33 in the world, won the Australia Day Challenge main tour tournament in Brisbane in January and took out the Gold Coast Open challenger event last weekend, beating Amelia Pittock in the final.

• Meanwhile, the big names may be missing but the action will be just as fierce when competitors serve their way to glory in the Grafton Squash Open at the Big River Squash and Fitness Centre tomorrow. About 50 players from the North Coast and beyond will contest the event, with quality of play expected to substitute the lack of star power.

In a clash of schedules, many of the country's top players will be competing at the Top End Open tournament in Darwin, forsaking the non-point ranking Grafton Open. However, Big River Squash and Fitness owner Tracy Gray said the local talent was more than capable of assuming the role of the tournament's draw-card.

“We've got some players in Grafton who play down in Sydney tournaments and do really well,” she said. “There won't be a lack of quality.”

Gray said she would try to register the status of the open for next year's event, but for now, prompted squash fans to come along and witness the battle of the next generation of squash stars.

“My top seed is a player from Lismore named Hayden Hamshaw ... and local player Kyle Lawler was a top junior, so hopefully he rises to the challenge,” she said.

“Three of the girls in A grade are teenagers and play in Sydney and do well.”

The tournament will feature six grades, the largest involving 16 players and the smallest just four.

Gray welcomed squash lovers to watch the action free of charge over the weekend. Competition begins tomorrow at 9am with finals on Sunday afternoon.

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