Team USA’s Natalie Grainger and Norbert Kornyei are World Masters champions after winning their respective age divisions Friday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Grainger entered the women’s 35+ draw as the top seed and successfully defended her title defeating England’s two seed Lauren Briggs 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10 in thirty-seven minutes.
“There’s nothing like winning at home, even if it is my home away from home these days, ” said the English-born, South African-raised Grainger afterwards.
While Grainger fulfilled her top-seeded expectations, Salt Lake City’s Kornyei pulled off a surprise title run in the men’s 70+ division as a 5/8 seed.
In a wild final that saw both players have three match balls in the fifth game, Kornyei defeated England’s Guy Davies 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 15-13 in forty-two minutes.
Boston’s Hope Prockop reached the women’s 45+ semifinals and exited the main draw after a close match decided 13-11 in the fifth against England’s Anrea Santamaria.
The nineteen-player U.S. delegation saw six players progress to the quarterfinals while competing alongside 950 players from thirty-four countries.
Other quarterfinalists included Anders Wahlstedt in the men’s 50+, Richard Millman in the men’s 50+and John Musto in the Men’s 45+.
The World Masters was begun in 1976 in London for men and 1982 in Perth for women; they have been combined since 1993 in Edinburgh. It is the third time the World Masters, a biennial event, will be in South Africa after Johannesburg hosted in 1997 and Cape Town hosted in 2006. Wanderers, Parkview Squash Centre and Country Club Johannesburg are the host clubs. Over the decades Team USA has captured a few titles at the World Masters: Jack Herrick won the men’s 45+ in 1983 in Auckland, Joyce Davenport the women’s 50+ in 1992 in Vancouver, Natalie Grainger the women’s 35+ and Michael Gough the men’s 75+ in 2014 in Hong Kong.
This will be the twenty-fourth staging of the World Masters. It has been held in ten different nations but never in the United States. That will change at the twenty-fifth World Masters which will be at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville, VA from July 29 to August 4, 2018.
For competition rules and more information, visit the 2016 World Masters tournament page.