History of Squash in NZ

Personalities: Susan Devoy - unsurpassed

It is a lay down miserey that everyone in New Zealand from early school age upwards knows who Dame Susan Devoy is, even though they may not all be aware of her amazing squash record.

Susan's deeds on and off the court unquestionably stamp her as the greatest personality to emerge in our sport's history and along the way the game has reaped immeasurable benefit from her exploits. In addition she has also become, arguably, New Zealand's greatest sportswoman of the century. A superb achievement for the "girl from Rotorua" as she has often called herself.

Dame Susan Devoy, in the height of her career

"To be honoured Dame Commander of the New Zealand Order of Merit - at just 34 years of age - was an outstanding mark of respect, unparalleled in the squash history of this country," said SNZ Chairman Neven Barbour in his Annual Report to the Association in 1998.

Over a period of 15 years from 1977 when she won her first national event in the under 13 championships through to her retirement from the game immediately following her fourth world championship title in 1992, Susan strode the court virtually unbeatable.

Vicki Cardwell - herself one of Australia's very best players and one of Susan's interminable foes on court - rated her as the "greatest woman squash player of all time even ahead of the legendary Heather MacKay".

Don Cotter, Chairman of Squash New Zealand when he welcomed Susan back to New Zealand after the 1992 World Championships, summed up the feelings of all squash people.

Susan Devoy vs Cardwell 1984

"You leave the sport with unparalleled achievements from your first New Zealand senior title in 1983 to your fourth world title last week, you have amassed a record that will never be surpassed. You will be remembered in particular for what makes great champions - pride, total dedication, mental toughness, single mindedness and superlative skills and fitness - yet for all that you still remained mum's girl.  You have carried yourself with great dignity, humility and compassion, and have rightfully earned the respect of all New Zealanders.  You have been, and will continue to be, a magnificent role model for all New Zealand sportswomen.  To leave the sport at the pinnacle of your achievements and powers must surely give you the ultimate satisfaction.

No retirement is more deserved. New Zealand Squash is confident that out there somewhere we have another world champion, but there will never be another Susan Devoy."

The glittering career of the world great

  • Four World Championship titles - 1985, 1987, 1990 and 1992
  • Eight British Open titles- 1984 to 1990 and 1992
  • Eight New Zealand Open titles - 1984 to 1990 and 1992
  • Ten New Zealand National Championship titles - 1983 to 1992
  • Every other major international event including the Australia, Swedish, Scottish, Irish, Swiss, French and Dutch Open titles
  • New Zealand Squash Personality of the Year 1983-1985,  1987-1992
  • Inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of  Fame 1993
  • Honoured as Member of British Empire (MBE)  1986
  • Honoured as Commander of British Empire (CBE) 1992
  • Honoured as Dame Commander of the NZ Order of Merit, 1998

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