Joelle King starts strong in Saudi Arabia tournament

Māori squash player Joelle King (Ngāti Porou) has won her first round match at the US$165,000 Saudi PSA Women’s Squash Masters tournament in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia overnight.

King, who is ranked ninth in the world, beat England’s Fiona Moverly 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 in the first round in just 25 minutes.

"I tried to keep the ball away from her danger zone as she is so talented in the middle of the court,” says King, “I kept the pace high and prevented [her] from controlling the game. It was a pretty good win for me in the end.”

King is now due to compete against eighth seed Annie Au from Hong Kong in the second round of the 32-player tournament. The last time the two faced off was at the Macau Open in 2016.

King emerged from that contest victorious after four games.

As the tournament is being held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where conservative Islam dominates public life, there are certain restrictions for the event.  There can only be female officials, no men can watch and there is limited or no vision broadcast.