NEXT STOP, PRAGUE – The Gisborne Herald

Published on January 26, 2022 at 11:27


WILLZ Donnelly traveled to Prague to pursue his squash dreams and challenge for Team New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games.

Speaking just before his trip, he said it was exciting to take the next step in his playing career as he prepared to leave.

At 21, he feels now is the time to venture out and make his mark in the global squash community.

“There are nerves, but there is also a lot of excitement.”

It is the first time he will face a foreign opponent since 2020, saying it took a long time to come.

“It’s really the next step for me. All the guys here, we’re all relatively equal, so it’ll be good to get out there and meet higher level players more often.

With the country’s best player Paul Coll not attending national-level events because he’s too good, currently being the second-best player in the world, Donnelly said the extra experience will help him stand out from the crowd. his opponents.

“We’re all pretty much tied in the top ten except for Paul. Everyone has their day and can pull it all off if they do well.

His plan includes a return trip ahead of the New Zealand Squash Championships in June before returning to Europe to have back-to-back seasons with top-level competition.

He plans to settle in the UK upon his return.

Having more consistent matches against good opponents is one of the things Donnelly said he is looking forward to the most.

“I think my fitness and skills are good. It’s just a matter of mindset for these big games and not getting in my head.

“Facing good people on a regular basis will mean I have less nerves in those big games when they come up, because I will have done that already.”

Donnelly said it was exciting to finally be able to pursue his dreams after previous years’ plans for an overseas squash experience were canceled by Covid-19.

While New Zealand continued to postpone and cancel tournaments, his overseas peers were able to carry on as usual and he said he didn’t want to miss out.

Having been based in Gisborne, he felt now was the time to step out and spread his wings on the world stage.

Although he had more time to prepare, he said it still hadn’t come cheap to cover the costs associated with the trip.

He said he was grateful to his sponsors, friends and family for their support.

“I’m not going to waste my time there going out and having fun. While that’s still part of it, that’s not why I’m doing all of this.

I’M GOING ON A JET: Willz Donnelly hopes the international experience in Europe against the best players will help him in his quest for the Commonwealth Games. Photo by Liam Clayton

Berta D. Wells