Joelle King has a busy few months ahead.
The Kiwi squash ace has just been playing at the season-ending PSA World Tour Finals in Cairo, featuring the world’s top eight women’s players.
Then she will return home for next month’s New Zealand Squash Championships in Tauranga, before heading to Europe to defend her singles and women’s doubles crowns at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
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Currently ranked fifth in the world, King talked to Stuff about choosing squash over netball, rooming with a rival and getting recognised in squash-mad Egypt.
What inspired you to first pick up a squash racket?
I guess I’m like any other typical Kiwi kid, I played every single sport. My parents both played a lot of different sports and I tried everything, really.
Probably netball and squash were my two favourite sports, and I guess I ended up choosing squash because of the individuality.
I think the beauty of being an individual sportsperson is that good and bad, everything is about you. And it all depends on you. If you put in the work, you reap the rewards. If you don’t, you are pretty quickly found out.
When I think back now it’s an easy decision [to choose squash] really because I just thrive when it’s all about me trying to achieve what I want to achieve and I don’t have to rely on anyone else.
Kiwi squash ace Joelle King holds her nerve in the final to capture her second Manchester Open title.
Any idols growing up?
Probably the earliest memory I have of really looking up to someone was Leilani Joyce (now Rorani), a female squash player who got to No 1 in the world. She was Māori, so I feel like because of that tie [King is of Ngāti Porou descent] I really looked up to her.
And when I met her for the first time, that was a real inspiration. I was like, ‘oh …….