Team England’s Gina Kennedy is aiming to live up to her billing as the ‘Emma Raducanu of squash’ by winning gold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Kennedy comes from the same suburb of London, Bromley, as the British tennis star, they train at the Parklangley Club and even share the same strength and conditioning coach.
Like the US Open tennis champion, 25-year-old Kennedy has enjoyed a rapid rise, ascending from 185 to ninth in the world rankings in less than a year after graduating from Harvard University in 2020.
“It is a huge compliment to be likened to Emma as she is an absolute superstar,” Kennedy said.”I have had a successful year, but I haven’t done anything on the scale that she has just yet.
“Hopefully one day soon I will win a major title or – who knows? – the Commonwealth Games, then I will really feel like I have achieved to the same magnitude.”
After I graduated from university and went pro, my primary goal was to be selected for Team England at the Commonwealth Games. I just wanted to get on the selectors’ radar.
“When my ranking went up so quickly, that ambition changed from just getting selected to seriously targeting a medal. I would never have predicted that rise.”
Kennedy is seeded third behind Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Joelle King (NZL) and Birmingham-born Sarah-Jane Perry, both of whom Kennedy beat on the PSA World Tour last season.
“It’s so exciting because I know I can beat any of these players on my day,” Kennedy said.
“I have always been extremely competitive and had strong physical attributes. My retrieval skills can usually get me out of trouble and I love long, gruelling rallies.”
Eighteen-time Indian national champion Joshna Chinappa is the fourth seed, with Wales’ Tesni Evans, Emily Whitlock and Yorkshire-based Hollie Naughon of Canada also vying for places on the podium.
In the men’s singles, world No.2 Paul Coll is favourite to go one better than his silver medal on the Gold Coast, where he lost to James Willstrop in the final.
Coll’s strongest challenge is likely to come from Joel Makin, who lives and trains in the West Midlands, while graceful veteran Saurav Ghosal, Patrick Rooney and Bristol-based Eain Yow Ng are also medal contenders.