BUSY TIME: Coffs Harbour squash player Tamika Saxby practicing with an Australian teammate on the Gold Coast ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
BUSY TIME: Coffs Harbour squash player Tamika Saxby practicing with an Australian teammate on the Gold Coast ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Tkreek Photography

Saxby about to have the time of her life

IT'S going to be the biggest month of Coffs Harbour squash player Tamika Saxby's life.

Tonight she walks around Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast as part of the Australian team in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Tomorrow Saxby plays her first round match at Oxenford Studios in the search for gold.

When the Games are over, the 24 year-old will marry her long time beau and fellow Coffs Harbour local Andrew Hunt on April 21 before heading off to Japan for their honeymoon.

It's a lot to take in but Saxby's mind is focussed on winning her opening match against Eilidh Bridgeman of the Cayman Islands.

A win over Bridgeman will not only see the 15th seed move into the round of 16 but the draw shows Saxby will play her second match on the specially made show court at Oxenford Studios with glass walls.

"I found out I'm going to be on the glass if I get through my first match and I think that's going to be an experience I'll never forget," Saxby said.

"We've had a few practice hits in there just to get used to those different glass conditions and how that court plays, and different lighting and those sort of things."

Not that Saxby knows much about tomorrow night's opponent.

"I've tried doing a little bit of research but I can't really find too much," she said.

"I'm hoping that will work in my favour and I can go into that match being confident and having hit on the court the last few days I'm feeling good. I'm definitely enjoying the court conditions.

"I think everything's going to work in my favour if I can keep everything together and I'm really keen to play that one match and I'll do everything to get that opportunity to play on that glass court in the next match."

Saxby earned her spot in the Australian team having reached a career-high world ranking of 48 in November.

The right-hander has had to overcome some niggling injuries of late but now back to full health, Saxby feels ready for the big event.

"I'm definitely feeling confident heading into this event. I've worked hard making sure I was ready for it," she said.

Having grown up living at the Coffs Harbour Squash and Swim Centre her parents Peter and Jenny operate and own, Tamika has been part of the local squash community for as long as she can remember.

With that sort of background Tamika knows there's plenty of home town support rallying behind her.

"As far as I know the whole family is coming up for the first match and I've got quite a few friends that are coming down from Brisbane as well, being based up there now," she said.

"I think from Coffs they'll definitely be coming up to support me and I think it's great.

"If anyone's not got their tickets yet I'd love them to come up and help support us. Anything that will help get across the line that would be awesome."

Saxby is no stranger to wearing the green and gold but she admits being part of a Commonwealth Games team is something special.

"For me this is the career pinnacle. This is the best thing that can happen to you in the sport of squash and I'm so honoured and humbled to be here and the fact that other people are recognising that is really nice," she said.

"It's been a long, long 20-odd years to try and get here."

For Saxby it's now just a matter of hitting the court and performing the best she can while taking in all of the lessons such a big event creates.

"For me this is a learning curve. Being the youngest one in the team I'm looking forward to experiencing and taking all of this in," she said.

"I really would like to do well in that first match and get the exposure of playing on the glass. I think that would be an incredible experience to get to play on there.

"From there who knows what can happen. If I can keep going I'm going to definitely do that and take the Australian pride as far as I can.

"I've got a pretty good draw and I'm feeling pretty happy with it and it gives me the opportunity to do really well."



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