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26-Feb-08:
Natalie goes Dutch                best wishes from Squash Oz

World number two Natalie Grinham has decided to switch nationality with immediate effect from Australian to Dutch.

The nationality change of the former Australian player doesn’t come as a major surprise as Grinham has been living in the Netherlands for more than seven years and is married to former Dutch champion Tommy Berden.

The younger half of the “Grinham Sisters” (Rachael is currently ranked three in the world), Natalie attributes her rise in the World Rankings to her stay in the Netherlands:

"When I first came to Holland in 1999 I was ranked in the 40s. The professional set up that they have here with the league, training facilities, coaches and training partners had a huge impact in getting me to where I am today.

"I'm looking forward to being able to represent Holland so that I can give something back to the country that has helped me improve so much."

Like her sister, Natalie is renowned for her amazing speed and attacking style of play. The Toowoomba born player has been a regular in the world’s top five since February 2004 and has occupied the number two spot in the World Rankings for 13 straight months.

A citizen of Almere, she won four WISPA tournaments in 2007, bringing her career total to ten titles, and she also reached six more major finals.

During the Women’s World Open in Madrid she was part of a historic final in which she had to succumb to her one-year-older sister Rachael.

The highlight of her career came in March 2006 when she took the Commonwealth Games by storm winning an unprecedented three gold medals. The individual title was taken after beating world number one Nicol David in the semis and higher seeded Rachael in a sisterly final, before Grinham paired up with her sister to win the Women’s Doubles, and with Joe Kneipp to triumph in the Mixed. She also won the World Team title twice with Australia in 2002 and 2004.

National Debut in 2009,
Individual next month ...


The world’s number two female player is not eligible to represent the Netherlands at the European and World Team Championships until 2009, as a result of the rules set out by the World Squash Federation and the European Squash Federation which stipulate that players have to wait at least three years before being able to represent another country.

Natalie last represented Australia during the Commonwealth Games 2006 after which she opted to not represent her country at the World Team Championships in Canada later that year. As an individual the 29-year old will play WISPA tournaments under the Dutch flag, starting with the CIMB KL Open 2008, March 5th to 8th in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

Dutch Delight

The naturalization of Grinham comes at a perfect time for squash in her new home country, a popular sport with approximately 450,000 Dutch participants.

The Netherlands already boast four players in the top-50 of the world, with former World Champion Vanessa Atkinson (currently ranked 10th in the world), Annelize Naudé (17), Orla Noom (35) and Margriet Huisman (37). On top of that Karen Kronemeyer (58), Milja Dorenbos (71), Dagmar Vermeulen (80) and Milou van der Heijden (82) are also ranked inside the top-100.

But the addition of Grinham to the already impressive pack will tremendously improve the chances for further Dutch success during the biggest women’s squash events around the globe, a very encouraging sign for the organizers of the Forexx Women’s World Open Squash 2009, which will take place in Amsterdam.

Grinham admits the good prospects for squash in The Netherlands played an important role in her decision to switch nationalities:

"I'm already looking forward to challenge for the world title in Amsterdam in 2009.

"The opportunity to become World Champion in front of a home crowd gives me extra motivation and everything I do in the next year and a half will be in preparation for this major goal."

It's not only Natalie who is happy with her switch to a new country,  the Dutch Squash Federation is also ecstatic about the news:

"The choice of Natalie to become Dutch not only gives us a real chance to win a European- and/or World title in the near future with our women’s team, but it also means an enormous boost to the juniors and other top players in our country.

"Besides Vanessa  and Annelize  they now have another great role model, who they can learn from."


Dutch Federation
Technical Manager

Squash Australia wishes Natalie Grinham well

Squash Australia chief executive officer Gary O’Donnell said he wished Natalie Grinham all the best after her decision to switch nationalities from Australian to Dutch.

Natalie, the world No.2, married former Dutch champion Tommy Berden in 2006 and has lived in the Netherlands since 1999.

“We understand Natalie’s reasons for choosing to represent the Netherlands, although we are obviously disappointed to lose a player of her standing from the Australian ranks,” O’Donnell said.

“However, her absence from Australian teams opens the door for our younger players such as Kasey Brown, Amelia Pittock, Donna Urquhart and Lisa Camilleri, who are the future of women’s squash in this country.”

Natalie last represented Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where she won an historic three gold medals. She will not be available for Dutch national selection until 2009, but she will play under the Netherlands flag when competing as an individual.
Natalie, who turns 30 next month, was born in Toowoomba. She is a former scholarship holder with the Australian Institute of Sport.

Sisters desert Australian Squash   The Australian

 
 

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