Squash: Devoy retires in triumph

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The Independent Online
SUSAN DEVOY, whose eight-year-stint at the top made the New Zealander the longest lasting world No 1 in the sport, announced her retirement after winning the World Open here on Saturday.

She hit the ball with such pace and with so few errors that there was rarely much doubt during her 9-4, 9-6, 9-4 victory over Australia's Michelle Martin that she would capture the title for a fourth time.

Speculation about when the 28-year-old from Rotorua would quit had been continuing all week, and did so until she announced her retirement. She was given a two-minute standing ovation.

'I can't think of a better time or way in which to go. I always wanted to go out at the top and that time has come now,' Devoy said.

Only the Australian Heather McKay, with 16, and England's Janet Morgan, with 10, surpassed Devoy's achievement of eight British Open Women's titles - but they played before the game became professional.

Devoy set new standards in fitness and with an armoury of superb shot-making she was nearly unbeatable. On the odd occasion she found herself in trouble, she was able to call on her renowned fighting spirit to see her through. 'When you are the youngest of seven children with six brothers you learn to be a fighter pretty quickly,' she said.

Off the squash court, Devoy was awarded the MBE in 1986 and at home she was New Zealander of the Year in 1988. She regularly won the New Zealand Sports Person and Sports Woman of the Year awards.

In 1991, Devoy was defeated in the quarter-finals of the British Open by England's Sue Wright and then spent four months out of the game after suffering a miscarriage. 'I really thought about retiring then. I learnt that there was more in the world than squash. But I decided to return to win back my British Open title and have one more tilt at the world championship before calling it a day,' she said. She achieved her first objective in London in April.

Devoy's decision creates the possibility that an English player could win the British Open this season. She picked out Martin and England's world junior champion, Cassie Jackman, as the most likely successors. But even though they too are near the end of their careers, do not rule the Guernsey women, Lisa Opie and Martine Le Moignan.