World number two Natalie Grinham has decided to switch
nationality with immediate effect from Australian to Dutch.
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
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:
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
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
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 ...
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
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.
The naturalization of Grinham comes at a perfect time for squash in
her new home country, a popular sport with approximately 450,000
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
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
"Besides Vanessa and Annelize they now have another
great role model, who they can learn from."
Squash Australia wishes Natalie
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
“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
Sisters desert Australian Squash The