MEDOWIE’S Matthew Karwalski said he had treated squash like a job to overcome the tension surrounding his controversial late inclusion in the Australian Commonwealth Games squad.
Australia’s No.3-ranked player was included in the five-man team two days before the opening ceremony after winning a legal battle against governing body Squash Australia in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The late ruling meant Queenslander Zac Alexander, ranked seventh in Australia, was removed from the team and forced from the athletes village.
The move created an icy atmosphere in the Australian squad as Karwalski was paired in the doubles with Ryan Cuskelly, Alexander’s best friend and usual partner.
After leaving Glasgow, an angry Alexander said Cuskelly ‘‘doesn’t even want to step foot on the court’’ and blasted Karwalski for disrupting team harmony.
‘‘We’re best mates and know each other back to front and would have been a great partnership,’’ Alexander said of his bond with Cuskelly.
‘‘And Matt doesn’t get on with anyone else in the team, really, apart from Dave [Palmer], who’s his coach. He’s done nothing but weaken the team, if anything.’’
Despite the controversy and the obvious tension, Karwalski and Cuskelly reached the quarter-finals of the doubles before losing to Scotland 11-7, 11-5.
Karwalski returned home on Tuesday and, when asked how he had dealt with the frosty situation, said: ‘‘It’s part of being professional.
‘‘When you get on the court and shut the door, you’re there to do your job and you do your job.
‘‘It’s like going to any other workplace. You might not like going to work some days, but you do your job to the best of your ability.
‘‘Unfortunately, the way things occurred there was some friction there initially, but moving forward I’m sure it’s something we’ll put behind us.’’
Karwalski sat down with Cuskelly to clear the air after arriving at the athletes village four days before competition began.
‘‘Obviously Ryan [Cuskelly] took it pretty hard as him and Zac [Alexander] are best mates, so that was always going to be difficult for him to move forward and pair with me after that, but we played all right together,’’ he said.
Karwalski said he did not believe the experience of going through a long legal battle with Squash Australia to earn his spot on the Commonwealth Games team had crushed any future dreams of representing his country.
The 28-year-old is aiming to play in the World Squash Open in Doha, Qatar, in November and then qualify for the world teams event in Kuwait next year.
‘‘I don’t think it will be a long-term issue, and if you perform good enough, you’ll get into the teams regardless,’’ he said.
‘‘They will always pick Australia’s best players at the top end, so I’ve just got to make sure I’m one of them.’’
However, Karwalski’s most pressing aim is winning the relaunched Newcastle Open men’s singles on Sunday at Cardiff.
It will the first time the tournament has been held since 1995, when Karwalski’s coach and Glasgow men’s and mixed doubles gold medallist Palmer won as a teenager.
‘‘Anything I can do to give back to grassroots sport, which has given so much to me, is something I value highly,’’ Karwalski said.
‘‘We’re trying to build something here that will survive our generation, and leaving a legacy behind is something I’m looking to do before I wind down my involvement in squash.’’
Karwalski is the No.1 men’s seed, while former world No.1 Michelle Martin will lead the women’s draw.
The 47-year-old Sydneysider has won three World Opens, six British Open titles and two Commonwealth Games gold medals.