Men’s $3k Women’s $1.5k PSA Challenger, 16-18 Jul, Auckland, New Zealand
White and Landers-Murphy take the titles in Auckland
Dave Worsley reports
A couple of new winners on the PSA Challenger squash circuit with Australia’s Joseph White and former top-50 ranked Amanda Landers-Murphy taking out the titles at the Howick Open.
White, 23 the Australian No 2 ranked player at 135 in the world took the risk of leaving Queensland to play in Howick and it paid off as he defeated Temwa Chileshe in the semis and then Lwamba Chileshe in the final to secure his career-first PSA Challenger title.
The Howick tournament filled a void for White with the upcoming Australian Open being postponed due to Covid-19 and limited other tournament opportunities.
White was solely focused on winning after being disappointed in the early rounds at bigger Auckland Open a couple of months back. On this occasion there was only going to be one result.
He gave away so few points in the final to Lwamba Chileshe that the title match looked set to be over quickly with the first game being won 11-6, however eventually a couple of errors crept in and he just took the second 12-10. Fatigue looked to have set in for White in the third as Chileshe ranked 114th fought back and grabbed the set 11-6, however mistakes came into the Kiwi’s game in the fourth and White quickly wrapped things up 11-6, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7 in a high quality match.
For Chileshe it was the fourth finals finish of the year and a good wake up before the NZ Championships in six weeks.
The women’s final was a one-sided scoreline as expected with Landers-Murphy a gold medal winner in doubles at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games against 15-year-old Ella Lash in her first PSA Challenger final.
The more experienced player winning 11-5, 11-4, 11-1, but the teen showing plenty of speed and fight around the court.
Landers-Murphy, 30 has been a way from fulltime pro squash for some time and enjoyed being back on court at the tournament. She had a win over top seed Abbie Palmer in the semis who was struggling with a niggling injury and could be a real tough competitor in the NZ Champs.
For Lash the finals run will improve her world ranking into the top 100 and would have given her plenty of experience from facing a seasoned pro such as Landers-Murphy.