Friday, July 3, 2009

India calling for Gloucestershire squash duo

THE searing heat and humidity of Chennai in southern India is beckoning for two young squash players from Gloucestershire.

Gloucester's Julianne Courtice and Cheltenham's Nathan Lake will be jetting off to India next month to represent England under 19s in the World Junior Championships.

With average temperatures on the south east cost of India likely to peak at around 35C, 17-year-old Julianne is expecting a tough tournament.

"It's going to be very hot out there and we've been told that there isn't any air conditioning at the venue," she said. "I'm nervous, but also excited because it's a once in a lifetime experience to go to India."

Top players from Asia and north Africa are expected to be among the challengers, but the England boys and girls teams are confident of success.

"I'm hoping I can compete in the singles and win my first few games," said Julianne, who is the national under 17 champion. "But in the team event we are hopeful that we can challenge and at least make the semi-finals."

For 16-year-old Nathan, the trip is about gaining experience of playing top class opponents at an international event.

"Two boys are going there to compete and then myself and one other are going to gain experience," he said. "It's an honour to pull on the England shirt and know that you are representing your country."

Nathan, who is ranked number two in the country at under 17 level, is looking forward to the challenge of playing against older opponents in testing conditions.

"It will be good to get stuck in and play against some tough opponents as there will be some really strong competition out there."

Despite both travelling to Europe for competitions, the unique culture and sights of India is something that the pair are looking forward to seeing.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the country and sampling a different culture," said Nathan. "I have had to have a lot of jabs, but thankfully not the one for malaria as that is a bit of a beast. We've also been given instructions on what we can and can't eat and drink."

With the squad due to leave a couple of days before the event, Julianne is looking forward to having time to acclimatise as well as see the sights.

"When the tournament's in progress we will be at the venue all day," she said. "But we're going out there a few days early so hopefully we'll see something of Chennai during that time."

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