Sport

Cuskelly set for Aussie Open

Evans Head professional Ryan Cuskelly is chasing a breakthrough win over highly rated opposition in Canberra next week.
Evans Head professional Ryan Cuskelly is chasing a breakthrough win over highly rated opposition in Canberra next week.

IN TENNIS, there are grass-court, clay-court and hard-court specialists.

Believe it or not, the same rule applies to squash.

That’s right, the sport that is played within the confines of four walls with a wooden floor.

The variety for squash players is the difference between the normal squash court with white wooden walls and the show courts made of glass, Evans Head professional Ryan Cuskelly says.

Luckily, Cuskelly considers himself a glass-court specialist, which will come in handy when he takes to the courts at Canberra’s Royal Theatre next week for the Australian Open.

“It’s totally different playing on a glass court,” the world number 42 said.

“Obviously it’s harder to see if you are not used to it and you seem to be rewarded for a good shot more.

“On glass courts, you can win a point with one good shot, but on normal courts you usually have to hit five or six good shots to win the rally.

“Glass courts are probably a bit deader because the ball sticks to the walls a lot.

“I actually really enjoy playing on glass courts.

"I think it rewards the attacking player.”

Cuskelly, 24, a bronze medal winner in the pairs at last year’s Commonwealth Games, has been lifted into the main draw of the Open after the withdrawal of Egyptian world number five Amr Shabana.

“I got lucky there,” he said.

“Usually I would be battling it out in qualifying but now I am due to face Tom Richards (world No.25) from England.

“It’s a big opportunity and hopefully I can sneak a win.”

Indeed, a couple of big performances against higher-ranked opponents is the next logical step for the left-hander.

“I feel like I’m going okay but it would be good to get a breakthrough win,” Cuskelly said.

“I’ve had wins against guys in the top 20 but it would be good to win against guys above that in a big tournament.

“It’s another step up to beat guys between 20 and number 10 and then another step up to beat a top-10 and even a top-five player.

“You’re only talking little things but it all adds up during a match.

"I can do it.”

Cuskelly has been playing a number of exhibition matches in the past few days following a break at Evans Head.

He will head to Canberra later this week for a two-day training camp with the Australian squad, which also includes Yamba’s Cameron Pilley.

After the Open, the New York-based professional will return to the United States before a hectic few months.

“The US Open, in Philadelphia, will be in September and then there are tournaments all over,” Cuskelly said.

“There is the World Open at Rotterdam, and also big tournaments at Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong and I finish off the year in India.”

Topics:  australian open, ryan cuskelly, squash


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