Love conquers all in Aussie squash triumph


Ian Chadband / AAP News

Marital harmony will doubtless prevail once more in the Lobban household. Eventually.

But for one night only, it was Australian Donna Lobban who earned the bragging rights over Scottish husband Greg at the Commonwealth Games in squash’s ultimate game of (un)happy families.

Not that she was out to rub a unique victory in the old man’s face.

“We’re not signing divorce papers after that – I think we’re still all right,” smiled the victorious Lobban after she and her cousin Cameron Pilley defeated Greg and Lisa Aitken in a tense, tetchy, hugely entertaining mixed doubles quarter-final at Birmingham University.

She even forgave him for accidentally smacking her on the back of the leg with his racquet, during the physical close-quarters battle won by Australia’s reigning champions 9-11 11-8 11-8.

It was the only light-hearted moment in a compelling, intense contest, with Greg giving Donna an apologetic hug as Pilley nodded towards Greg gravely: “Oh, you’re in trouble now…”

Naturally, on a day when Games historians desperately tried to recall when a husband and wife had ever gone head-to-head in sporting combat for different countries at a major championship, Donna ended up with the utmost sympathy for hubby.

“Usually you’d be just going ‘yeeeees!’ after a win like that but my heart kind of sunk. I was happy but gutted we were the ones who put them out of the tournament. Didn’t feel good,” she said.

The match turned on a couple of controversial ‘no let’ calls from the referee late on which had Greg having the odd wee crossword with the official.

Ironically, Donna felt she’d been the victim of a huge wrong call earlier in the day when she and Rachael Grinham were knocked out of the women’s doubles quarters.

On the final sudden-death point, a heartless ‘no let’ call granted victory to their Malaysian opponents Rachel Arnold and Aifa Azman which prompted Lobban, quite uncharacteristically, to hurl her racquet in fury flush against the backcourt glass.

Later, she protested they’d been “robbed” and had to cool herself down, regroup and get ready for a redemptive match six hours later.

Greg, who’d been watching in the morning, had helped her get back in the right frame of mind. “I’m her husband – I support her every day, today’s no different – and I’ll be supporting her tomorrow in the semis.”

After his defeat, he enjoyed a long embrace with Donna in the centre of the court and told her: “I’m proud of you – now go on and win it.”

“People were watching anything to talk about so we weren’t giving them too much,” reckoned Donna.

“Er, he did whack me in the thigh but I’ll take that!

“Might have to put up with him being in a terrible mood for a while – but if I’d have lost, it would have been him putting up with me being in a terrible mood!”

She’d also made a bet with Greg before the match that if he lost, he’d have to make dinner for the next month.

Already she’s regretting it.

“I don’t know if I want him to cook actually – pretty grim. I should have made the bet that if I win, I’d get to shave off his mullet and his moustache! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that … too late now.”



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