Players from 24 nations - more than ever before - will compete in the Squash championships in this month's World Games, the multi-sport event which is being staged in the Chinese Taipei city of Kaohsiung under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Squash events, which will be held in the Chung Cheng Martial Arts Stadium in Kaohsiung from 21-24 July, have attracted world-class fields - led by Malaysia's world number one Nicol David, the top seed in the women's event.
Over 4,000 athletes, competing in more than 30 sports, will take part in the 2009 Kaohsiung World Games, the eighth edition of the multi-sport event featuring sports not currently on the programme of the Olympic Games.
Squash made its debut in the 1997 World Games in Lahti, Finland. Britain's former world number one Peter Nicol won the men's gold medal in the last event in 2005 in Duisburg, Germany, while Nicol David will have the opportunity to become the first player to successfully defend a World Games squash title after winning the women's trophy four years ago.
Nicol David, who celebrates her third complete year as world number one this month, will be competing in Kaohsiung in her first championship since taking part in Squash's presentation to the IOC in the sport's bid to join the programme for the 2016 Olympic Games.
World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran looks forward to the sport's latest appearance in this major multi-sport event: "I am particularly pleased that we have extended this year from 16 to 32 draws, with top world-class players in both and so many countries represented.
"This demonstrates the commitment of Squash and our leading players to the World Games - and is a very important facet of the message in our recent presentation to the IOC Executive Board for inclusion in the ultimate dream for us, the Olympic Games themselves," added the WSF President, who will be attending the Kaohsiung World Games.
Nicol David is the in-form player on the women's tour: The 25-year-old from Penang set out on an incredible journey in October 2005 when she won the British Open for the first time – and went on to reach the finals in all but two of 37 WISPA World Tour events until the present day, winning 30 of them!
US number one Natalie Grainger, the last player to beat David, is seeded to meet the reigning World Open champion in the 2009 World Games final. Grainger, the world No2 from Greenwich, begins her Kaohsiung campaign against Chinese Taipei opponent Pan Kuei Yeh, while Nicol David lines up against Hungary's Helga Kecse-Nagy.
Briton Jenny Duncalf and three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Natalie Grinham (the Australian-born world No4 who now represents the Netherlands) are expected to provide the two top seeds' final opposition before the finale. Fourth seed Duncalf begins her World Games programme against Germany's Pamela Hathway, while Grinham takes on promising South African talent Siyoli Lusaseni.
Women's 1st round draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v Helga Kecse-Nagy (HUN)
 Sharon Wee (MAS) v Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Vanessa Atkinson (NED) v Joey Chan (HKG)
 Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) v Amelia Pittock (AUS)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Birgit Coufal (AUT)
 Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Rebecca Chiu (HKG) v Lisa Camilleri (AUS)
 Jenny Duncalf (GBR) v Pamela Hathway (GER)
 Natalie Grinham (NED) v Siyoli Lusaseni (RSA)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v Aisling Blake (IRL)
 Samantha Teran (MEX) v Low Wee Wern (MAS)
 Alison Waters (GBR) v Chinatsu Matsui (JPN)
 Shelley Kitchen (NZL) v Song Sun-Mi (KOR)
 Kasey Brown (AUS) v Camille Serme (FRA)
 Delia Arnold (MAS) v Miranda Ranieri (CAN)
 Natalie Grainger (USA) v Pan Kuei Yeh (TPE)
photos Janos Schmidt