This trip was a relatively short one in comparison to others where I had been playing a few tournaments in a row. I arrived in Brisbane and was met by Nathan Stevenson, who had driven over 50kms just to pick me up and take me back to his place in Caboolture, which just so happens to be a squash club!
The next day I awoke to the sound of squash balls being hit. Surprisingly, it was quite relaxing. I’m not sure if it would be the same after waking to the same thing after a few days, but I would be getting a taste of it this weekend, also staying in a room next to squash courts once I got to Coffs Harbour.
The drive south to Coffs took a good 5-6 hours, but it was a nice trip. Compared to a lot of long distance trips in Australia where you’re stuck inland, seeing the same old sights for hours on end, this was fantastic. We travelled up and down hills from Queensland across the border to New South Wales, catching glimpses of the beautiful coastline.
I settled into my room at the squash courts in Coffs Harbour, along with Ed Dromgool, Jamie Skiffington, Justin Beard, and German Philip Romm. It was another family run centre, and WISPA tour player Tamika Saxby and her family did a great job in making sure we were looked after well.
On the Saturday morning I awoke, again finding that sleeping next to the squash courts wasn’t so bad, and that my scheduled match on court 3 was only 10 metres away from my bed! A game which I won in 3 sets against Aussie junior Rhys Dowling.
I had a harder time in my quarter-final against Jamie McErvale of Queensland. Although it was raining outside, the temperature was still very warm, and the ball was bouncing around quite a lot. Those are conditions I find nice to play in, but Jamie was still managing to kill the ball dead into the nick, which as you know makes life very hard. I clawed my way back to 2 games all and in the fifth set his shots seemed to have deserted him when he needed them most. After 5 tough sets I had won the match and found myself playing tour veteran Mike Corren once again in the semi-finals.
I started the match against Mike very well, taking the closely fought first game 11-7. In the next 3 sets I felt like I played solidly, but Mike used his ‘experience’ to hustle in the tight points and take the match 3-1. I was quite happy with the way I played, which was strangely frustrating. I felt I played well enough to win the match, and straight after I couldn’t see too many reasons why I didn’t, but when you’re playing someone with well over 10 years of experience on the tour, they can often take matches from your winning grasp without you knowing how or why. After the adrenaline had flowed out and the heart rate had calmed down, there were apparent reasons why I did not win the match, but that is the challenge of our sport, being able to recognise those reasons whilst the game is still being played.
I felt so close, yet so far, from being in my first PSA tour final, but for whatever reason, I had to trust that is was all meant to be. And so, after watching Mike Corren win yet another title, I made the journey back to Brisbane with Nathan, and hopped on the plane back to Auckland the next day. I would be back within a couple of weeks, playing the Millicent Open in South Australia, where again I would be seeded 4th.