NZ Southern Open : Fifth time lucky for Williams

NZ Southern Open : FINAL
[4] Evan Williams (Nzl) 3-0 [1] Henry Leung (Hkg)   11-8, 11-8, 13-11 (44m)

Fifth time lucky for Williams

Karyn Flett reports

Fourth seeded New Zealander Evan Williams faced top seed Henry Leung from Hong Kong in his first NZ Southern Open PSA final after travelling south for five years to compete in this event.

With the final being a first for both players, as well as their first meeting on the tour, this was set to be tough. Williams had his game face on from the start, playing with precision in the first half before Leung came back into the game with a run of points. It was not quite enough from Leung with Williams taking the first set 11-8.

The second saw Williams still focused, composed and determined, gaining and maintaining a lead to give himself a 2-0 advantage.

Both players showed great patience in the third game, keeping the rallies going in the hope of forcing an error.

Leung took the early lead but it was Williams who reached match-ball before Leung came back again to take the game to a tie-break and get game-ball.

Williams dug deep and took the next two points to win the match and his first sixth PSA title, his first for three years.

Semis: Home favourite Williams through to face top seed

Karyn Flett reports

It was nail biting action tonight in the semi-finals of The ILT & Community Trust South NZ Southern Open PSA in Invercargill, all four players keen to secure spots in tomorrow’s final.

The spectators knew they were in for a treat right from the first point between Hong Kong’s Henry Leung and Chi Him Wong with the rally more than five grueling minutes.

Both players were using varied pace on the ball and moving each other all around the court with several battles of who could play the tightest drop shot during rallies. Wong took the first point and was able to keep a lead on Leung until 8-8 when Leung took the lead and gained set point before Wong fought back to level the scores and then take the set 13-11.

Leung looked much more in control in the second set and started off well in the third before Wong swung the momentum back his way and dug deep to take the third and a one game advantage. The fourth game saw Leung take charge again and gain a comfortable lead then the game to level the scores once more.

The fifth game saw Leung gain a quick lead and Wong seemingly unable to find the answers with Leung securing the first berth in tomorrow’s final.

Next up was New Zealand’s Evan Williams  and Connor Sheen of England. Both Williams and Sheen played a much faster paced game with Sheen showing early on in the first that he was up for the challenge.

Williams took the first 11-9 and managed to hold the lead over Sheen through most of the second until Sheen found another gear and took this game 11-8. Sheen continued his momentum into the third, forcing errors from Williams before Williams pulled back to gain a 2-1 lead.

The fourth game saw experience come into play as Williams quickly took control and despite a determined push from Sheen was able to close out the match 11-7. Williams is a regular at this event having lost out in the quarter-finals for the past two years he has been focused all week in hopes of reaching the final for a chance to take the title.

The final between Henry Leung and Evan Williams will play tomorrow at 3.30pm (local time) and is sure to be a hard fought battle with both looking to secure the NZ Southern Open title.

Quarters: Sheen joins three seeds in the Semis

Just when it looked as though the top four seeds would go safely through to tomorrow’s semifinals here at the ILT & Community Trust South 2019 Southern Open PSA in Invercargill, injury came into play in the final match of the night with second seed Christopher Binnie suffering a possible calf muscle tear.

First to take the court was top seed Henry Leung of Hong Kong against seventh seeded Frenchman Enzo Corigliano. The players hadn’t met before on the PSA circuit so it was new territory for them both with Leung looking very comfortable throughout the match despite Corigliano’s speed and agility around the court. Leung took the match in 3 sets to progress through to semi-finals tomorrow.

Next up was an all Hong Kong match, sixth seed Tang Ming Hong against third seed Chi Him Wong. Wong held a 5-1 win advantage and was in complete control of the match with the grueling rallies seeming to take a toll on Hong while Wong seemed to absorb the physicalness with ease, taking the match 3-0. Wong will face top seed Leung in tomorrow’s first semi-final at 5.30pm.

Fourth seed Evan Williams, the last NZ player left in the draw,  faced fifth seed of Ireland in a rematch of their first round battle last year. The first game began with both players trading point for point with Conroy looking determined to avenge his defeat last year, before Williams stretched out a lead and held on to take the first 11-5. Williams started the second more aggressively, pushing up the court to take the ball early and force the errors from Conroy, taking the set 11-3. Conroy started stronger in the third, gaining a good lead before Williams clawed back the point to get to 10-9 before a No Let call took the game to tie-break. Williams scored the next point and then a loose shot by Conroy gave Williams a Stroke and the match.

The final match saw English eighth seed Connor Sheen  taking on second seed Christopher Binnie of Jamaica. Sheen began very strongly, streaking to a 6-1 lead before Binnie dug deep to take nine points in a row to get game ball. Sheen kept pushing, forcing three errors from Binnie to even the scores again and take the game to a tie-break. Binnie got the first advantage before Sheen was able to close out the game 13-11. To the dismay of everyone, Binnie suffered a calf muscle injury during the first rally of the second game and was unable to continue, giving Sheen a place in the semi-final where he will face Williams.

Round Two

The top 8 players have made it through the second round of The 2019 ILT & CTOS NZ Southern Open in relative comfort.

(10 Henry Leung (HKG) 3-0 Sion Wiggin (NZL)

In one of the first matches of the second round, top seed Henry Leung started off with a quick lead over New Zealand’s Sion Wiggin before Wiggin scored a string of points to even the score. Leung took the first 11-8. The second saw Leung with a 8-1 lead before Wiggin again sewed a string of points together but not enough and Leung again closed the game 11-8. Leung stepped up the pace in the third, pushing the ball all around the court and was able to take the game 11-4 to secure his place in the quarter-finals.

(7) Enzo Corigliano (FRA)3-0 Zac Millar (NZL) 

With a sore back Millar was slow to warm up into the match with Corigliano taking the first 11-2. The second saw Corigliano continue applying pressure to Millar and although Millar did look more comfortable moving around the court, Corigliano held him to 11-4. The third was much tighter with Millar looking more in his usual form but Corigliano was able to seal the match 11-8.

(6) Tang Ming Hong (HKG) 3-1 Chung Yat Long (HKG)

Hong looked in complete control of the first game and while Long gained momentum in the second Hong took a 2-0 lead. The third game saw Long really step up his game with an early 6-1 lead before Hong began to close the gap but some superbly placed shots by Long gave him the game 11-8. The fourth was a tight battle with Long again taking an early lead before Hong moved back into the front. The game went to tie-break at 10-10, with Hong eventually sealing the match and his quarter-final berth 13-11 after 34 Minutes.

(3) Chi Him Wong (HKG) 3-0 Matthew Lai (HKG) 

Third seed Wong took a quick and strong lead early in the match taking the first two games 11-2 and 11-3. Lai was able to begin staging a comeback in the third getting the first four points before Tang regrouped and took back control closing out the match 11-5 in the third.

(4) Evan Williams (NZL) 3-0 Lwamba Chileshe (NZL)

This was always going to be a big ask for up and coming junior Chileshe taking on the experience of Williams. The match was full of long rallies, both players patient in waiting for the opportunity to strike. Williams was able to take the match comfortably 3-0, but Chileshe showed he could be one to watch in the future.

(5) Sean Conroy (IRL) 3-2 Atticus Kelly (USA) 

In the longest match of the night and the only 5 setter, Kelly started off where he finished last night with some great retrieval skills and shot play to take the first 11-7. He took the first three points in the second before Conroy began playing with more control, taking the set 11-6. With the scores tied, Kelly got to a 5-1 lead and then hold the lead to take the third 11-8. Conroy came out much more focused in the fourth and held Kelly off to take the set. The fifth began as a tight contest before Conroy surged ahead to take the match.

(8) Connor Sheen (ENG) 3-0 Ryunosuke Tsukue (JPN)

A clearly very unwell Tsukue bravely took the court with Sheen taking the first 11-4 before Tsukue defaulted sending Sheen through to the quarter-finals tomorrow.

(2) Christopher Binnie (JAM) 3-0 Joel Arscott (NZL) 

Arscott started the match well, streaking to a 7-1 lead before Binnie turned the tables to take 8 straight points and then the game 11-9. Binnie was more in control in the second and third games although Arscott was definitely not letting him have an easy win chasing down ball after ball to stay in the rallies. Binnie managed to take the match 3-0 in 31 minutes.

Round One :

The top 8 players have made it through the first round of the 2018 ILT & CTOS NZ Southern Open in relative comfort.

(9/16) Zac Millar (NZL) vs Willz Donnelly (NZL)

Miller started the match strong in the first game before Donnelly began to come back. After taking the first 11-8, Millar again came out strong in the second with Donnelly working hard to equalize at 8-all when Millar landed awkwardly chasing a ball into the back corner and hyper-extended his knee. Donnelly took full advantage and closed out the game 11-8. Millar regrouped well during the break and began playing with more precision in the third before unforced errors started to creep in and Donnelly again began to claw back the gap before Millar refocused and took the game again 11-8. The fourth saw Millar really exert his dominance on the match, racing to a quick 7-0 lead before taking the game and match 11-3

Chung Yat Long (HKG) vs (9/16) Faisal Riaz (USA)

The second match of this evening was the quickest ever seen at the ILT and Community Trust South Southern Open PSA with Hong Kong’s Chung Yat Long showing complete dominance over a clearly injured Riaz from USA. In just 10 minutes, 19 year old Long closed out the match 11-1, 11-2, 11-2 to secure his spot in the top 16.

(WC) Mitchell Kempton (NZL) vs (9/16) Lwamba Chileshe (NZL)

Chileshe was in total control of the match against former NZ Junior Squad-mate and hometown boy Kempton who was a last minute replacement for a late player withdrawal last night, taking just 17 minutes to close it out 11-3, 11-4, 11-6.

(9/16) Harley Lam (HKG) vs Atticus Kelly (USA)

While the first set was all Kelly’s, the second set saw Lam reverse the fortunes to tie the match back up at 1-1. In the early stages of the third set the spectators very quickly realized this could be the match of the night as Kelly and Lam ran each other all over the court, trading point for point, with Kelly just sneaking this pivotal set 11-9. Kelly maintained his momentum to take a strong lead in the fourth with Lam unable to upset his rhythm, Kelly closing out the match 11-4 after 47 grueling minutes.

(WC) Rhys Dowling (AUS) vs (9/16) Ryunosuke Tsukue (JPN)

The first set saw Tsukue assert himself against an uncharacteristically sedate Dowling who was carrying an injury. While Dowling picked up the pace in the second set, displaying the daring play that has been seen here in previous years, Tsukue was able to maintain the lead and move to a 2-0 lead. The third set saw Tsukue again dominate with some quick reflexes and deft shot play to keep the pressure on Dowling and seal the match in three.

(9/16) Joel Arscott (NZL) vs (WC) Elijah Thomas (NZL)

In the last match of the night the two young New Zealanders were both eager for the win to progress to the next round. The first two sets were tightly contested with Thomas taking the first and Arscott the second. Thomas showed dogged determination to take the third, and got a good start in the fourth before Arscott came back. Trailing 7-10 Thomas had to leave the court for blood injury, coming back to get the next two points before Arscott managed to sneak the set 11-9. The first rally of the fifth saw Thomas sustain another injury and despite his best efforts, Arscott was able to book his spot in the next round where he will face 2nd seed Christopher Binnie of Jamaica.

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