A broken toe has been a minor trip-up in her preparation for the WSF World Junior Championships, but it was a far more serious injury that convinced Queensland’s Shona Coxsedge she truly wanted to pursue high performance squash.
The World No.347 was forced to spend a month off court throughout May after fracturing her right foot, but has raced to recover and is fit for her World Junior Championships debut in Melbourne in July.
The 18-year-old from Queensland’s Gold Coast is just grateful to be playing squash again after stress fractures in her back sidelined her for more than a year, across 2021 and 2022.
Coxsedge was coming off the biggest victory of her junior career, winning the Australian Junior Open Under 17s in 2021, when she tweaked her back on the first day of the Queensland Junior Championships. With her back strapped, she continued the tournament and won. But scans days later showed two stress fractures.
“I was off court for 13 months and I worked with a physio for 16 months,” she recalls. “It was a big process, but I think that time definitely did me some good, too.
“Back then, I didn’t really know where I wanted to go with squash, but that time off court made me realise how much I wanted to play. I really did miss it and it gave me a new perspective.
“I love so many aspects of the sport. During that time, I was like ‘ok, I need this in my life, it’s something that makes me really happy. I want to rock up to training, I want to get better’. There was that love and passion behind why I wanted to do it.”
With this in mind, a broken toe was a mere stumbling block – literally – on the path to the World Junior Championships.
“I just tripped while I was walking around the squash court, I wasn’t even on the court. That sums me up,” Coxsedge says, laughing, and describing herself as ‘a bit of a klutz.’
“The doctor said I needed to wait a month to make sure the bones were sticky enough that they don’t move, so as soon as it got to a month I was back on the court that day. I’m back on the right path.”
Coxsedge began playing squash when she was nine, following mum Rosemary to the courts at Nerang. She participated in tennis, swimming, gymnastics, athletics, soccer and basketball, but squash won her attention.
“I was stuck at the courts quite a bit and the manager was looking for more Under 11 girls, so I kind of just got chucked on courts at my first QJC [Queensland Junior Championship]. I think I was nine, mum just said ‘give it a go’. I used to have a hit-arounds on court, but I didn’t know any of the rules.”
Coxsedge was able to pick it up quickly, following in the footsteps of her big brothers, especially Lachlan, six years older.
Lachlan represented Australia at the 2017 World Junior Championships and the family relocated to Palm Beach for him to attend the Australian National Squash Centre at Carrara.
Lachlan has had his own injury setbacks over the past two years, only returning to the court recently after major shoulder surgery, something which Coxsedge admits has served as inspiration during her own lengthy spells on the treatment table..
“To see his dedication and for him stick to the sport has definitely inspired me to know I can do it too,” she says.
The move to Carrara has also helped, giving her access to stronger competition and advice from former top-ranked professionals, Stewart and Vicky Boswell.
In her last year as a junior, the 18-year-old is excited about competing at the World Junior Championships and continuing her transition into PSA tournaments.
“I’m as confident as I can be [going into the World Junior Championships],” she says. “I don’t really know what to expect, I haven’t stepped into that experienced environment of squash yet.
“I’m confident in how my squash is going and, at the end of the day, this is a great opportunity to play and watch other players from around the world.
“I’ve started playing PSA tournaments this year … I want to continue to play PSA, I’d love to make Commonwealth Games one day.”
The 2023 WSF World Junior Squash Championships are being played in Melbourne, Victoria 18-29 July.
Click here for ticketing information.
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