Men & Women $3k PSA Challengers, 14-16 May, Auckland, New Zealand
Williams and Watts continue their title runs
Two players have stamped their authority on New Zealand domestic squash as Evan Williams and Kaitlyn Watts continued their winning streaks, this time at the PSA Challenger tournament, the Panmure Technifibre Open.
On the two previous occasion the scores had gone the full distance and Millar had match points, however this time Watts from Palmerston North took control of her final almost from the word go to win 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 in just 22 minutes.
It was a win which even had Millar shrugging her shoulders at the ruthless efficiency from Watts who looks set to improve her world ranking dramatically from 234 after taking 18 months away from the sport.
Only in the first game did Watts find herself significantly down when Millar held a 6-3 lead. However from then on it was all the Manawatu player as she added the Panmure tournament and the Ross Norman trophy to other titles at Royal Oak and the Waikato Open.
In the men’s final, top seed and world No 86 Evan Williams kept his record of PSA Challenger wins in 2021 with a five game victory over Lwamba Chileshe the second seed.
Williams has already won the Henderson Challenger and the Waikato Open and started well in Panmure taking the first game 11-4 with Chileshe struggling to find his feet in the match and any rhythm.
But Chileshe fought his way back in the second game as he started to show an array of winning for a 12-10 scoreline. The third game reverted back to Williams, 31 winning 11-5, before Chileshe, 22 took command and hit half a dozen backhand winners to take the fourth game 11-5.
In the final game a couple of errors cost Chileshe ranked 143 in the world the title as the experience of Williams came through for an 11-6 win and his ninth career PSA title.
The win which was also the Ross Norman trophy will give Williams confidence going into the big Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open featuring a number of Australian players in just over a week’s time and then the NZ Championships in Wellington next month.
Day TWO : Dave Worsley reports
A couple of tough matches will be fought out in the final of the Panmure Technifibre Open PSA Challenger tournament in Auckland.
The recent rivalry between Emma Millar and Kaitlyn Watts is set to continue for the third consecutive PSA Challenger final with 20-year-old Watts winning the two previous occasions.
Third seed Watts won both her quarter-final over Grace Hymers and then her semis against second seed Abbie Palmer in straight games while top seed Millar beat Sophie Hodges in four games and then look set to ease past 15-year-old Ella Lash in the semis, but dropped the third game 12-14 only to comeback and clinch the fourth and a spot in the final 11-6.
Twenty-nine-year-old Millar, ranked 97 in the world, will be keen for revenge against Watts after the younger player beat her in five games in the Royal Oak Open and also the Waikato Open.
In the men’s draw it will once again be top seed and top 100 ranked Evan Williams targeting a title.
Williams is aiming for his third PSA Challenger title this year after wins at Waikao and Henderson and the ninth of his career. The Wellingtonian defeated Australian Benjamin in his quarter-final and then beat Temwa Chileshe in the semis in five games in just over an hours play.
His finals opponent Lwamba Chileshe, ranked 143, eased passed Zac Millar in his quarter and then had a four set battle to defeat fourth seed Joel Arscott. Chileshe playing some sublime squash in the second and third games which he reeled off 11-2, 11-3 after earlier dropping the first 7-11.
Chileshe, 22, then won the fourth game 11-9 and will be targeting a win in a Challenger tournament over Williams, something he has never done before. It is also good practice before the big Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open in a couple of weeks.
Round ONE : Dave Worsley reports
There were some interesting results in the first round of the Panmure Technifibre Squash Open PSA Challenger in Auckland.
Having the two Australian players in Benjamin Ratcliffe and Damon MacMillan added a little bit of extra interest to the tournament while a couple of old and new names also made the initial round fascinating.
Top seed Evan Williams had a straight game win over the difficult Chris van der Salm who looked likely to win the first game, but the resilient Williams eventually came through 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 and is in search of his third PSA Challenger tour around New Zealand this year after victories in Henderson and Waikato.
Ratcliffe ranked 323 won in straight game over teenager Mason Smales and will now play Williams in the quarter-finals.
Third seed Temwa Chileshe accounted for Apa Fatialofa in straight games and will now face Sion Wiggin who had his first triumph in numerous matches over 2018 Commonwealth Games player Lance Beddoes.
In the bottom half of the draw fourth seed Joel Arscott defeated Gabe Yam while Finn Trimble from Northland, now playing out of the Waikato upset Willz Donnelly in straight games.
Zac Millar took a game to get going before beating left-handed Australian Damon MacMillian in four games, while second seed Lwamba Chileshe accounted for Glenn Templeton in four games.
In the women’s draw, top seed Emma Millar beat Diana Galloway and will take on Waikato teen Sophie Hodges who went to five games in her match against Tyler Duberly.
Winona-Jo Joyce and Ella Lash were winners over Kayti Carrick and Maia Smales respectively while Kaitlyn Watts continued her unbeaten run of results with a win over Anne Leakey.
Grace Hymers and second seed Abbie Palmer were winners in their matches, but the upset went to Wellington’s Maiden-Lee Coe who recently turned 15 in her first PSA tournament where she beat Katie Templeton in five games.
Quarter-finals start from 10am with semis from 5.30.
Professional squash heads to Auckland this week with the Panmure Technifibre Open PSA Challenger tournament, a key event for New Zealand players.
The good news for the tournament is that two Australians will take part in the men’s draw as internationally ranked Benjamin Ratcliffe and Damon Macmillan are in the country for several weeks.
Ratcliffe ranked at 323 faces talented West Auckland left-hander, Mason Smales while MacMillan ranked 342 plays the sometimes unorthodox Zac Millar who won the Satellite title in Tauranga last week.
Another 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games team member in the draw like Millar is Lance Beddoes who takes on fifth seed Sion Wiggin.
A key first round clash is top seed Evan Williams ranked 84 in the world up against Chris van der Salm who finished fourth at the national champs last year and is one of the tougher players to face in any round, let alone the first.
Second seed, Lwamba Chileshe at 143rd plays Bay of Plenty’s Glenn Templeton in his opening match.
The women’s draw has a wide spread of players from around New Zealand with top seed Emma Millar from the Waikato ranked at 97 facing a real threat to her early domestic dominance.
Kaitlyn Watts has beaten Millar in their last two PSA Challenger finals, Royal Oak and Waikato Open and also just won the Bay of Plenty Satellite last weekend.
Other key players in the draw include second seed, Abbie Palmer, ranked at 114 who is drawn to play Watts in the semis as well as teenagers, Ella Lash (Auckland) and Sophie Hodges (Waikato) in the same half of the draw as Millar.
Play starts from 4pm Friday 14 May with play all day and into the evening on Saturday 15 May while the finals are from 1.15pm on Sunday 16 May. Main court matches will be steamed live on Panmure Squash Club facebook.
The next tournament around New Zealand is a Satellite event at Browns Bay the following weekend with the big PSA Challenger, the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open in two weeks where a large number of Australian professionals are taking part.