Mixed fortunes on a busy day for England’s golden girl Gina Kennedy
By ALAN THATCHER and JANE BALL
All of Wednesday’s medal winners were back in action a few hours later as the Commonwealth Games doubles competitions got under way yesterday morning.
There was a shock in store for England’s women’s singles champion Gina Kennedy in the mixed doubles with Patrick Rooney.
And women’s runner-up Hollie Naughton was unable to hit the heights again as she and mixed doubles partner Nick Sachvie lost to Scotland’s Georgia Adderley and Rory Stewart.
Men’s singles finalists Paul Coll and Joel Makin were both successfully back in action the morning after their epic 102-minute battle for gold on Wednesday night, with Coll partnering Joelle King and Makin teaming up with Tesni Evans.
Today’s draw throws up a confrontation between husband and wife Greg and Donna Lobban, who will face each other in the mixed doubles with Greg partnering Lisa Aitken (Scotland) and Donna teaming up with her cousin Cameron Pilley (Australia).
Australian mixed doubles pairing Rachael Grinham and Zac Alexander put in a fine performance to surprise higher-seeded home hopes Kennedy and Rooney as the Commonwealth Games mixed doubles competition resumed, while the men’s and women’s doubles competitions got under way.
On Wednesday, Kennedy captured headlines when she became the first Englishwomen to win a Commonwealth Games singles gold. Yesterday, though, she faced the tough proposition of three doubles matches.
After she and mixed doubles partner Patrick Rooney beat Maltese siblings Lijana and Kijan Sultana in straight games in round one of the mixed doubles, the 5/8 seeds took on 9/16 seeds Grinham and Alexander in their second round match just two hours later.
Australia’s Opening Ceremony flag-bearer Grinham, 45, a mixed doubles gold medallist in 2014 and a women’s doubles gold medallist in 2006, and 2018 men’s doubles gold medallist Zac Alexander, got off to a challenging start when the English pair took a 5-1 lead.
Grinham, who is competing in her sixth Commonwealth Games, and Alexander then put together a brilliant scoring run as the experienced duo came back to take the first game 11-8 and then won the match with an 11-6 triumph in the second.
Afterwards, Grinham said: “That was really good, especially after the start that we had. England got away to a blistering start and we had to regroup, hang in there and weather it. Pulling back that first game was crucial for us.”
Alexander added his congratulations to Kennedy for her win yesterday and revealed that he and his partner had been secretly supporting Kennedy through her gold-medal-winning run in the hopes that it would hamper her doubles preparation.
Grinham and Alexander will meet India’s top seeds Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal in the quarter-final after they beat Welsh 9/16 seeds Emily Whitlock and Peter Creed.
Elsewhere in the mixed doubles, married couple Donna and Greg Lobban will go head to head for Australia and Scotland today after round two wins.
Australia’s defending mixed doubles champions Donna Lobban and Cameron Pilley overcame stubborn resistance from Indian duo Joshna Chinappa & Harinder Pal Sandhu, while Scotland’s Greg Lobban and partner Lisa Aitken breezed past Marlene West and Cameron Stafford of the Cayman Islands.
For New Zealand, Joelle King put the disappointment of her bronze medal defeat in the singles to the back of her mind as she and fellow defending 2018 women’s doubles champion Amanda Landers-Murphy beat Guyana’s Fung-A-Fat and Ashely Khalil 2-0.
Then the 33-year-old downed Pakistan’s Faiza Zafar and Nasir Iqbal in the mixed doubles alongside Wednesday night’s newly crowned singles champion Paul Coll.
King and Coll will face Scotland’s 5/8 seeds Georgia Adderley and Rory Stewart in the mixed doubles quarter-final.
In the women’s quarter-final, King and Landers-Murphy will face Kennedy and Lucy Turmel of England.
Despite the disappointment of her defeat earlier in the day, Kennedy made a strong return to action in the evening session alongside Turmel, as both of England’s women’s teams progressed to the quarter-finals along with mixed doubles pairing Alison Waters and Adrian Waller.
Kennedy said afterwards: “Lucy really helped me bring the energy that I needed to bring. I think it’s going to be a big mental battle tomorrow.”
Yesterday also saw the final involvement of Indian 14-year-old sensation Anahat Singh in main Games, after she and Sunanya Kuruvilla lost to Australia’s Grinham and Lobban in the women’s doubles.
Nine matches were played in the opening round of the men’s doubles draw. While the majority of the seeded players were not involved after receiving byes, there was still plenty of entertainment to be had.
New Zealand brothers Lwamba and Temwa Chileshe entertaining the crowd in their win over 2-0 win over Papua New Guinea’s Feonor Siaguru and Madako Suari.
Malta’s Niall Engerer and Kijan Sultana, who were opponents in the first round of the singles draw, where Engerer emerged victorious, and Christopher Binnie and Julian Morrison of Jamaica, came from behind to beat the Cayman Islands and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively.
Today (August 5) the quarter-finals of the mixed and women’s doubles get underway, while the men’s doubles tournament enters the second round.
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Squash Doubles, University of Birmingham.
Mixed Doubles – Round Two:
 Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [9/16] Emily Whitlock & Peter Creed (WAL) 2-0: 11-8, 11-4 (20m)
Men’s Doubles – Round One:
 Declan James & James Willstrop (ENG) bye
Women’s Doubles – Round Two:
 Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) bt Meagan Best & Amanda Haywood (BAR) 2-0: 11-4, 11-4 (13m)
Mixed Doubles – Quarter-Final Draw:
 Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [9/16] Rachael Grinham & Zac Alexander (AUS)
Men’s Doubles – Round Two Draw:
 Declan James & James Willstrop (ENG) v [9/16] Niall Engerer & Kijan Sultana (MLT)
Women’s Doubles – Quarter-Final Draw:
 Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v [5/8] Ainaa Amani & Chan Yiwen (MAS)
Pictures courtesy of World Squash Federation