Finals : Top seed Williams takes men’s title, Turnbull claims women’s
If anyone doubted the determination of New Zealand men’s squash No 2 Evan Williams they would be sorely disappointed as the 31-year-old from Wellington continued to hold off all rivals for yet another PSA Challenger title, this time at the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open.
Played at the North Shore Squash Club in Auckland, the scene of Evans NZ Champs title last year the 31-year-old top seed ranked 86 in the world defeated six seed and 206th ranked Temwa Chilesehe in a marathon and dramatic five game battle.
Chileshe had tried on a number of occasions to beat Williams this year as the Commonwealth Games rep has now won four PSA Challenger titles; Henderson, Waikato and Panmure adding the bigger Auckland Open title to his credit.
Williams, is now undefeated since October 2020 and with the NZ Champs coming up in Wellington at his home club, the veteran is keen to continue his string of victories.
Chileshe started the final in great fashion winning 11-9, and then won the second game 13-11 and an upset on the cards. Williams held his nerve to win the third 15-13 and then the fourth 13-11. There was nothing in the match for either player who kept the game tight with any loose shot pounced upon and any unforced error greatly received.
Into the fifth game 20-year-old Chileshe had a total of five opportunities to win the match, finding himself ahead 10-6 only to have a couple of great shots from the top seed and a couple of unforced errors to let Williams back in the match.
There was another opportunity at for Chileshe to win, but again Williams held on only to another chance to win at 12-11, but the younger player hit the tin and let the top seed back in for a 14-12 win
For Williams the title meant a lot, but was tough mentally as well physically.
“I’ve had a good run so far this season. This match was very, very much a mental battle, I feel like I got outplayed for the majority of that game, but experience prevailed. I backed myself when I was down. I once got told that winning is a habit, Temwa is playing very well, but my confidence and momentum probably carried me through in the end,” said Williams.
The two flatmates didn’t hold back in their match with plenty of well-constructed rallies making their trip across the Tasman worthwhile and putting paid to their New Zealand rivals.
The eventual scoreline 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 to Turnbull who controlled the points well and despite dropping the second game appeared to have the better constructed points on the day to win her third PSA Challenger title.
Day THREE : All-Kiwi men’s and all-Aussie women’s finals
There will be an all -Kiwi and an all -Aussie final at the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open a the North Shore Squash Club.
After the dismissal of the Australian players in the men’s quarter-finals of the tournament which is a PSA Challenger event the four New Zealanders battled in the semifinals.
Sixth seed Temwa Chileshe ranked at 206 in the world defeated good friend, Joel Arscott the seventh seed who is ranked just eight places lower in a four game match which featured plenty of rallies as both players were forced to race all over the court.
After splitting the first two sets it was Chileshe who then remained steady and cut down his unforced errors as Arscott then found himself making the mistakes. Chileshe, 20 then wrapped up the match 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 in just on an hours play.
Reaching the final will be the third occasion for Chileshe to compete for a PSA Challenger title after being a runner up at Morrisnville to his brother and at the Waikato Open to Evan Williams.
The other semi featured Williams against Lwamba Chileshe in a replay of the NZ Championship final from last year on the same court and the Panmure Open a few weeks ago. Those matches had both gone five games, however this time Willams ranked at 86 in the world was too good from the start.
He negated Chileshe’s shots in a high-intensity opening 11-8 and from then on the fourth seed struggled to keep tabs with Williams completing game as he scored a quick-fire victory 11-4, 11-4.
The women’s final features the top two seeded Australians, Sarah Cardwell, ranked 59th in the world and Jess Turnbull ranked 66th.
Cardwell the daughter of former world No.1, Vicki Cardwell was too strong for reigning Auckland Open champ, Lana Harrision in a comprehensive display 11-4, 11-3, 11-4.
Turnbull’s win over third seed Emma Millar was a little more hard fought. Millar who is a school teacher by day and squash coach and player at night and the weekend was quickly accounted for in the first game 3-11, but fought back in second with some signature shots from all corners of the court claiming the set 11-8, but Turnbull proved too consistent in the third and fourth winning 11-5, 11-5.
The women’s final is at 12.30 at the North Shore Squash Club with the men’s final at 1.30
Day TWO : Kiwi men hold sway into the semis
An epic couple of rounds of matches highlighted day two of the PSA Challenger Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open at the North Shore Squash Club as the Kiwi men dominated their Australian opponents.
All four semifinalists in the men’s draw are New Zealanders with old and established rivalries set to continue.
The women’s semis will feature some trans-Tasman matchups as top seed and world No 59 Sarah Cardwell from Australia gets set to take on the current Auckland Open champion, Lana Harrison from the Remuera Club while in the other half of the draw second seed and 66th ranked Jessica Turnball from Queensland faces New Zealand Champion and 97th ranked Emma Millar.
Millar made the semis after turning around a run of defeats to Kaitlyn Watts from Manawatu. Watts had defeated Millar in three PSA Challenger finals in a row, however on this occasion it was the more experienced player who came out firing with an aggressive approach to her shots.
Millar won with a convincing display 11-6, 11-3, 14-16, 11-6 and probably should have had the match go her way in the third game as well, however an errant call on a shot caused some issues.
Earlier Cardwell had played smart squash to beat countrywoman Alex Haydon in four games while Harrison won in straight games over fourth seed Abbie Palmer from the North Shore Club.
In the other women’s quarter-final Turnbull was given a good workout by 15-year-old Kiwi junior Ella Lash but eventually won in straight games.
In the men’s draw there was an extra round played with no major upsets in the second round as the top four seeds all progressed. However Australia’s top ranked player and second seed in Auckland Joseph White was pushed to 7-7 in the first two sets by Bay of Plenty teen Joe Smythe. The Aussie eventually coming through in straight games.
The real action was in the quarter-finals as top seed Evan Williamsput paid to the challenge from Finn Trimble to set up a semifinal clash with fourth seed, Lwamba Chileshe in a repeat of the Panmure Challenger and also the NZ Champs from 2020.
Chileshe putting in a consistent performance to account for Aussie Nicholas Calvert in hard fought straight game match in his quarter-final.
The younger Chileshe brother, Temwa played an epic battle to beat tournament third seed Rhys Dowling from two games down featuring plenty of well-constructed points from both players.
What then followed was a hotly contested quarter-final between White and seventh seed, Joel Arscott. The match was physical and had many questioned calls, including the last point as the Kiwi player won 13-11 in the fifth game to the dismay of the second seed.
Arscott and Temwa Chileshe now face off in the semis in what will be one of numerous matches against each other over the past couple of years and is sure to go the full distance.
The semifinals start from 3pm Saturday.
Day One : No major upsets … Dave Worsley reports
The first round matches at the Barfoot & Thompson PSA Challenger squash tournament, didn’t provide any major upsets and there was just three matches which went the full five games, the first, then a battle between two teens and the last as as always the case.
The impact of having a number of Australia’s best players was felt early on with all three of the women’s players from across the Tasman winning into the quarter-finals. In the men’s draw there was a win and a loss for the Australian players with three more to join the field as seeded players on day two.
World No 59 Sarah Cardwell won as top seed over Waikato’s Kayti Carrick, while second seed and 66tth ranked Jessica Turnbull was also efficient in her win over Bay of Plenty junior Katie Templeton.
Alex Haydon then accounted for Tyler Duberly and will play countrywoman, Cardwell in the quarters while last year’s Auckland Open champ, Lana Harrison plays fourth seed Abbie Millar.
However the key matchup in the quarter-finals in the women’s draw will be the clash between Kaitlyn Watts and Emma Millar. Watts, 20 has defeated top-100 ranked Millar in three PSA Challenger finals this year and looked sharp in her win over Christchurch’s Grace Hymers.
Millar had a struggle to overcome Auckland’s Juee Bhide 15-13, 11-7, 11-8 in her opening match.
In the last quarter-final 15-year-old Ella Lash takes on Turnbull after the teen beat Rebecca Barnett in five games, showing plenty of determination to fight back after being down in the fourth.
In the men’s opening matches, Mason Smales showed his improvement beating Elijah Thomas in five games. Thomas suffering from a lack of match play after an ankle injury at the Royal Oak Open a month or so ago. Smales, 16 will now face sixth seed Temwa Chileshe in the men’s second round from midday.
Bay of Plenty’s Joe Smythe played a stable match to outlast Leo Fatialofa to set up a clash with Australian second seed Joseph White, while former top 150 ranked Chris van der Salm beat Melbourne’s Damon Macmillan in straight games to play top seed and NZ Champion Evan Williams.
Another Melbourne player, Benjamin Ratcliffe beat Northland’s Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist in straight games with a meeting against former junior rival Joel Arscott up next.
Other seeds, including Australians, Ryhs Dowling and Nicholas Calvert as well as Kiwi No.3 Lwamba Chileshe join the draw in the second round with men’s winners also set to play a quarter-final in the evening as well.