New Zealand’s World No.8 Joelle King overcame Australia’s World No.21 Donna Lobban 11-6, 11-6, 4-11, 5-11, 11-8 to book her place in the second round of the CIB Black Ball Open.
Last time out at this event in March, King was victim to one of the shocks of the tournament as she fell to Egyptian youngster Farida Mohamed in the second round after being two games up. However, the Kiwi only narrowly avoided the same fate this time around following a comeback from Lobban.
It was a solid opening two games from King as she took a strong lead, pushing Lobban into the back corners and punishing the Australian with her accurate hitting to go 2-0 up.
A wayward third and fourth from King, saw Lobban get back into the match though with the 33-year-old stepping up the court to force her way into the tie at the PSA World Tour Gold event.
But it was King who managed a better start in the fifth and despite Lobban saving two match balls was able to close out the 11-6, 11-6, 4-11, 5-11, 11-8 victory in 54 minutes.
The New Zealander will face either Canada’s Hollie Naughton or Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby in the second round.
“It was a weird match,” said King.
“I started pretty well and won the first two pretty comfortably. The way Donna plays you can never quite relax, she showed that and came back to win the next two games and it was all on in the fifth. It was 11-8 but it felt much tougher than that – it was neck and neck all the way – I’m just happy to come off with a win.
“The environment now is a little different. You wouldn’t usually practice with the person you play with but with the situation of COVID, they’re trying to do the right thing. It’s a bit weird to be friendly with someone and then you have to come out here and try and beat each other, but I think it was a good spirited match. After my last tournament, I was up 2-0 and lost, so it was nice to come back and win in the fifth.
“The first two games I felt like I played some of the best squash I’ve played in a while, followed by some of the worst squash but obviously being put under pressure by Donna.”
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-2: 11-6, 11-6, 4-11, 5-11, 11-8 (54m)