Men’ $3k PSA Challenger, 11-13 Jul, Whangarei, New Zealand
Lwamba and Abbie take the titles in Whangarei
The Northland Squash Open had a familiar feel to the finals as the Chileshe brothers, Lwamba and Temwa faced off for the third time in a PSA Challenger tournament this year.
As top seed and ranked 126th in the world Lwamba, 22 started strongly at the Whangarei Squash Club against younger brother, Temwa, 20 who is ranked at 140. Lwamba won the first game 11-7, but Temwa struck back in the second 14-12 with neither player able to take control of the match as they went point-for-point.
However a couple of unforced errors proved costly for Temwa in the third and fourth games with Lwamba taking the decisive sets 11-7,11-7 for the title.
Earlier in the year Lwamba had beaten Temwa in the final of the Morrinsville PSA Challenger with the result reversed in the Waikato Open semifinal. For Lwamba it is his second PSA Challenger title, while it is now Temwa’s fourth loss in a Challenger final of 2021 after title matches at Morrinsville, Waikato Open, Auckland Open and now Northland Open.
In the women’s Satellite event, former Northland player, Abbie Palmer won the title for the eighth time. Palmer ranked 117 beat former world No.6 Shelley Kitchen, now aged 41 in the final.
Kitchen who is the High Performance Manager at Squash New Zealand won the opening two games 11-8, 11-5 with her typical hard-hitting and even had a lead in the third game before Palmer turned her game around and started dominating the match from the front of the court to win the next three sets 11-9, 11-8, 11-5.
For Palmer it was her second Satellite title of the year, and second over Kitchen after winning the Browns Bay Open in four games. For Kitchen it was her third defeat in a final in 2021 after being beaten in five games in the Henderson Open by Emma Millar.
Despite the loss Kitchen can be pleased with making the final and keeping squash prominent in her home region.
The next big event for New Zealand players is the Oliver Sport NZ Squash Championships in Wellington in two weeks, where Evan Williams and Millar are the defending champs.
Locals mixing it with Pros
The Northland Open is bringing some of New Zealand’s best to the Whangarei Squash Club from tomorrow until Sunday with several players ranked inside the top 250 in the world. Mixing it with the PSA ranked players are around 100 entries in various grades to create a real carnival of squash.
Men’s No. 1 seed Is Lwamba Chileshe at 126 on the PSA world rankings and a finalist at the NZ Championships last year. Next is younger brother and defending Northland Open champ, Temwa Chileshe at 206 while in the women’s Satellite draw the top seed is Abbie Palmer, the seven-time winner of the Northland Open ranked 117 in the world.
For the Chileshe brothers who play out of the Lugton Park Club in Hamilton the Northland Open will be one of many PSA Challenger tournaments this year.
Temwa, was a finalist at Morrinsville, the Waikato Open and the Auckland Open, Lwamba was the winner at Morrinsville and finalist at Panmure.
Northland’s Masters player Sam Gearing will have the honour of facing Lwamba in the first round on Friday night. While Finn Trimble, 22 formerly from Northland, now Waikato and a three-time winner of the title, has the hard task of taking on Temwa Chileshe first up.
Older brother Max Trimble, a former top New Zealand Junior from the Whangarei Club plays fourth seed and 238th ranked Elijah Thomas from Auckland who is the national age group junior champ in the first round.
There is also the Mania Squash Clubs Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist who won the New Zealand Junior Open title earlier this year. He has a tricky first round match against Auckland junior, Mason Smales who is a lanky left-hander with plenty of shot making ability. Both have world rankings.
Whangarei player, Nick Wilson takes on third seed Sion Wiggin ranked 219 in another key match while Australian Damon Macmillan ranked 347 plays Bay of Plenty junior Benjamin Adams.
The smaller women’s tournament also features notable Northland player, Shelley Kitchen who is still playing squash at a top level into her early 40’s. Kitchen, formerly ranked at No 6 in the world was a finalist at the Browns Bay Open in Auckland to Palmer and earlier in the year to Emma Millar in the Henderson Open in five games.
Also notable in the women’s event is teenager Ella Lash from Auckland who is already ranked 205 in the world as well as Sacha Pou-Tito a four-time Northland Open winner and member of the Whangarei Club. Former Northland top junior player, Annmarie Holst from the Maungatauroto Squash Club has entered as has, 15-year-old Chelsea Trail who is an up-and-coming junior from the Kamo Squash Club.
The tournament will be livestreamed on facebooklive Squash Northland with the women’s finals from 2pm and the men’s 3pm Sunday 13 June.