AMP Intertown Squash Tournament director Dave Fuller said you "could throw a blanket" over this year's Men's A Grade title hopefuls, but even with that in mind he still found it tough to look past Orange Squash Club's side as an early front-runner.
Most of Bathurst's title-winning side from last year won't front while Orange's local numbers have boomed recently and they'll field a red-hot outfit as a result, with Glen Atkinson, George Eleftheriou, Jesse Keegan, Grant Michell and Michael Hutchinson named.
Atkinson was actually a part of Bathurst's championship last year but has led Orange's charge in terms of boosting participation and will headline the side in their round robin, preliminary games against Springwood, Cowra and then Forbes.
We're a good shot this year ... we've got a really strong side.Orange's George Eleftheriou
Bathurst, Dubbo and Parkes face-off in the other Men's A Grade pool on Saturday, the preliminary stage will determine the rankings for Sunday's knockout play-offs at One Strength, Orange Squash Club's Moulder Street base.
"I do find it very hard to pick a winner this year, the teams are even which is great. You could throw a blanket over them but if you pushed me to pick ... it could be between Orange and Parkes," Fuller said, with Kinross, Bathurst and Blayney also hosting games.
Eleftheriou didn't play his side's chances down either, but with the likes of Atkinson and former Commonwealth Youth Games rep Keegan among the ranks it would've been tough to do anyway.
WATCH: George Eleftheriou explains this year's AMP Intertown Squash Tournament format
"We're a good shot this year ... we've got a really strong side," he said.
"Four play, but it's good having [a five-man rotation] because there's that many matches it does knock you up over the day.
"I think we should (make it through the finals)."
Orange will field two other men's sides too, in Men's B and C Grade, along with their long-dominant Ladies A Grade outfit, which has won three of the last four titles. That one loss was last year, when they finished second, and Eleftheriou said they'll "be out for revenge".
Fuller agreed with that, suggesting it's a case of "who they'll play in the final" rather than whether they'll get there, thanks to their depth mainly.
Kym Knight and Rhonda Cavalli, who'll play alongside Belinda Thurtell and Jacki Kirk, was slightly more diplomatic though, saying their outfit just enjoys being able to play together as much as potentially winning.
"We're never confident at all, we just like coming together, we're all close friends and between the four of us we cross four generations which is quite an interesting little dynamic," Knight explained.
"It's really nice to see all the people we've met from the other towns as well," Cavalli added.
Don't them wrong though, they love winning. They will be on the back foot from the word go this weekend though.
WATCH: Rhonda Cavalli and Kym Knight talk about their side's chances this weekend.
"This time it will be a little different because our No.1 (Thurtell) can't play on the Saturday so between the three of us we'll take turns playing two games, but we wanted to do that," Knight explained, her side facing Parkes, Rylstone and Bathurst.
"We'd rather do that than bring someone else in, so our No.1 can play with us on Sunday."
Eleftheriou went on to say how exciting it is to see so many Orange teams competing this year, and lauded the work of Atkinson and Kylie Keegan as well in helping to pro-actively pioneer the sport.
"[They've] done a wonderful job ... and this is the best turnout Orange has had for this tournament in a long time, it's great," he said.
"Squash is going gangbusters here," Fuller added.
Games begin on Saturday at 8.15am across the venues. Orange's first game in the Men's A Grade is at 9am at Bathurst against Springwood, while the Women's A Grade tournament opener is against Bathurst at Kinross Wolaroi from 8.15am.
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