Top seeds Joelle King and Paul Coll predictably won the title at the Oliver Sport National Squash Championships in Tauranga, but not without a fight.
King who had previously won the title on eight occasions took on third seed and Commonwealth Games doubles partner, Amanda Landers-Murphy but found herself in a bit of a battle after previously dominating her way to the final.
Landers-Murphy who knows Kings game inside out stuck with her higher ranked opponent through the first game and then even on the second 11-9. However the power and strength of King ranked No 5 in the world eventually showed through for a 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1 victory in front of a packed crowed at the Devoy Squash Club in Tauranga.
The men’s final look set to be a clear cut win for the current world No 2 Paul Coll, when he came up against Lwamba Chileshe ranked 92 in the world.
But the match was far from a foregone conclusion as Chileshe upped his game and took his play to Coll forcing the top seed into long rallies and eventually the odd mistake.
Chileshe 23 held off a couple of game balls in the first game to eventually lose 12-10 in what was a commendable effort for the Waikato-based player.
Again in the second Chileshe forced Coll to focus his play and produce some of his best shots. The Greymouth-born Coll eventually winning 11-8 and then 11-5 in the third for his sixth national title.
And Coll was full of praise for his Commonwealth Games team mate, Chileshe.
“He played well he’s been training in England for a while and his made some improvements in his game. I haven’t played a lot of these guys for some time and it’s great to see them improving,” said Coll whose next tournament is the Greymouth Open next weekend as he returns to his hometown to finally spend time with family after over three years away.
As expected the top seeds have made it through to the finals of the of the Oliver Sport New Zealand Squash Championships as men’s world No 2 Paul Coll and women’s No 5 Joelle King dominated their opposition in both the quarters and then semifinals.
King will face third seed Amanda Landers-Murphy in the women’s final after a no-mercy win over fourth seed and Auckland Open champ Lana Harrison.
However Landers-Murphy won an unusual encounter against second seed Kaitlyn Watts ranked 95th in the world with the later pulling out of the match at one game apiece. Watts, 21 won the first game 11-3 before left-hander Landers-Murphy took the second 11-8. It was then that Watts didn’t come back on court as she struggled with her breathing after suffering from Covid-19 a few weeks back.
For King there was no charity served up to Harrison as she won 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 with the extra pace off the ball putting the Aucklander who is known for her fighting ability on the back foot.
In the men’s final Coll will face second seed Lwamba Chileshe who beat his younger brother Temwa in straight games 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.
Coll accounted for former practice partner Chris Van Der Salm in an entertaining contest which had both players laughing and playing up to the large sellout crowd jammed in around the glass court at the Devoy Club in Tauranga. Coll winning 11-5, 11-7, 11-5
For Coll he will be hunting for title number six when he faces Commonwealth Games teammate Lwamba Chileshe who is ranked 92nd in the world.
King is targeting her ninth title, with her last being in 2019 when she beat Landers-Murphy in the final.
Earlier King had defeated top New Zealand junior Sophie Hodges in her quarter-final who Landers-Murphy beat Winona-Jo Joyce in five games. Harrison had a four game win over Commonwealth Games team member Abbie Palmer and Watts beat seventh seed Juee Bhide.
In the men’s quarters, Coll beat eighth seed Anthony Lepper in a straight game match. Van Der Salm defeated Willz Donnelley in four games while Lwamba Chileshe accounted for Glenn Templeton and Temwa Chileshe took four games to beast Elijah Thomas.
Play starts at 1pm with the women’s final. The men’s will be at 2pm, both live on Duke Television or livestreaming.