Men & Women $1.5k PSA Challenger, 30 Apr – 02 May, Hamilton, New Zealand
Waikato hat-trick for Williams as Watts does the double
Dave Worsley reports
The Waikato Squash Open PSA Challenger tournament has a new and also a familiar champions after two very competitive finals featuring some of the best domestic players in New Zealand.
Top men’s seed Evan Williams (Wellington), ranked 84th in the world, won his third Waikato Open Challenger title – the previous ones being in 2015-16 – with a four game victory over third seed Temwa Chileshe (Waikato).
In the women’s final it was a second PSA Challenger title for Kaitlyn Watts from the Manawatu as she followed up her recent win over New Zealand champ Emma Millar at the Royal Oak PSA Challenger, also in five games.
For Watts the victory continued her fine form after her return to the game from a year and a half away from the sport.
“I feel competitive and engergised on the court now and I’m training well and I’m back loving the game,” said the 20-year-old who when asked about her full-length dives on the court and any damage to her body, replied that she was going to feel sore. it.
“I think I’ll have some bruises, my body is a little bit sore, but the win helps.”
The match itself featured plenty of exciting rallies with top-100 ranked Millar starting in brisk fashion to take the first game 11-9, however Watts reversed the scoreline in the second, before Millar was aggressive with her crosscourt winners in the third for a 11-7 win.
Once again the tempo changed in the fourth game as Watts stepped up the pressure for an 11-3 scoreline. The Manawatu player then had a considerable lead chipped away in the fourth game by Millar but was able to hold her never to take the contest 11-8 in the fifth set.
In the men’s final it was the eighth PSA Challenger level title for 31-year-old Evan Williams and gives him good form leading into the NZ Championships where he is the defending champion at his home club in Hutt City next month.
Williams won the first two games with 11-7 scorelines, but dropped the third 4-11 as Chileshe applied more pressure. However in the fourth Williams sorted his game plan and was consistent as he won 11-6 with Chileshe arguably feeling some fatigue from his two five game matches the previous day.
Tournaments continue around the country with the Bay of Plenty Open Satellite in Tauranga followed by the Panmure PSA Challenger, a Satellite at Browns by the next weekend and the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open PSA Challenger which has a large contingent of Australians competing.
Day TWO : Dave Worsley reports
A couple of epic matches and a couple of upsets provided plenty of entertainment on a huge day of squash at the Placemakers Waikato Open PSA Challenger tournament in Hamilton.
After a lengthy five game win in the quarter-finals over Commonwealth Games rep Zac Millar, it was Temwa Chileshe who then played his second match of over 60 minutes to defeat older brother Lwamba from two games down to reach the final of the tournament.
Williams, ranked 84th in the world, accounted for Sion Wiggin in straight games in his quarter-finals and then beat Willz Donnelly – who had earlier accounted for Joel Arscott in four hotly contested games in well over an hour – in three games in his semi-final. Facing Temwa Chileshe in the final may not be as much of a daunting prospect after the amount of squash Temwa has played in the last 24 hours.
The women’s matches were more straightforward with Emma Millar into the final where she’ll play Kaitylyn Watts in a rematch of the Royal Oak PSA Challenger where Watts staged a comeback to take out the title.
Watts beat second seed Abbie Palmer in straight games in her semifinal after earlier defeating local junior Sophie Hodges in her quarter in straight. In the longest women’s quarter-final Natalie Sayes beat third seed, Lauren Clarke in five games, but was then beaten by Millar in the semis.
Day ONE : Dave Worsley reports
There were no upsets of note in first round play at the PSA Challenger Waikato Squash Open 2021 at the Hamilton Squash & Tennis Club.
Only one contest went to five game as Mathew Lucente took Willz Donnelly all the way, but couldn’t quite finish things in his favour. Glenn Templeton had tough first game 12-10 against Gabe Yam who then had to retire with an injury in the second game.
Top seed and New Zealand champ Evan Williams ended up with a late bye in the first round as he hunts his second PSA Challenger title of the year. In February he won the Henderson title in five games over Joel Arscott
In the second round women’s top seed and top-100 ranked Emma Millar, playing at her home club, faces Hawkes Bay’s Winona Jo-Joyce after both players had relatively straightforward initial wins.
At the bottom half of the women’s draw second seed Abbie Palmer of Auckland beat Grace Hymers from Canterbury in straight games and will play Tracey Kimble in her next match.
Royal Oak PSA Challenger winner Kaitlyn Watts is seeded to face Palmer in the semis but now has the difficult task of playing Waikato local and one of New Zealand’s best juniors in 16-year-old Sophie Hodges.
Over 150 competitors are competing at the Hamilton Squash & Tennis Club over the weekend with numerous graded events being played at the same time as the PSA tournament.
Waikato Open a bonus for local players
Preview from Dave Worsley
There’s plenty of home advantage as top level squash comes to Hamilton this week with a PSA Challenger tournament featuring prize money and world ranking points at the Hamilton Tennis & Squash Club.
Top seed in the women’s draw of the Placemakers Waikato Squash Open 2021 is national champion Emma Millar from Hamilton while second and third seeds in the men’s draw, Lwamba and Temwa Chileshe also both reside in the city.
Zac Millar a 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games team member and brother of Emma is the 6th seed ranked at 218 and another player from the region.
Amongst a busy schedule in life Millar, who is ranked 97th in the world, teaches at St. Pius X school in Hamilton and is also a development coach in the Waikato.
Earlier this year she won the Henderson Open Satellite tournament and was a finalist at the Royal Oak Open Challenger with a score to settle against Waikato Open fourth seed, Kaitlyn Watts who beat her at the Royal Oak Open in a tight match.
Twenty-nine-year-old Millar is the top seed this weekend ahead of Auckland’s Abbie Palmer , third seed Lauren Clarke from the Bay of Plenty and fourth seed Watts (Manawatu).
Playing in her home city is a luxury for Miller and others from the Waikato who don’t get the opportunity very often.
“It’s an awesome experience to be able to play at home, where people we are surrounded by on a daily basis can come and watch some of the top level squash we have to offer in New Zealand,” said Millar.
“ It’s also good to be able to enjoy the comforts of home while playing a tournament. It’s something that those of us living outside of Auckland seldom get. It’s an opportunity us Waikato players are looking forward to.”
Watts (speaking to PSA) reflects on Royal Oak and the coming weekend :
“I wasn’t too sure what to expect from myself as I had been away from squash for over a year, so I didn’t put any pressure on myself and went into the game feeling relaxed mentally but very fired up at the same time.
“Emma has been on form so I knew it was going to be a tough game, and it sure was. But I had a lot of fight in me that got me through to the end, and [I’m] stoked to get my first PSA Challenger title from it. But really I was just buzzing to be back out there on court, and really enjoying my squash again.
“There’s still so much learning for me to do but I took a lot out of Royal Oak that I’ve been able to work on in my training, and I’m happy with the progress from that. Physically and mentally I’m feeling on form, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together this weekend and hoping I can execute my game well.”
The men’s draw is highlighted by national champion, Commonwealth Games rep and 84th ranked Evan Williams as the top seed. However he won’t have things all his own way. Williams from Wellington is drawn to face fourth ranked Joel Arscott at 209 in the semifinals if matches go to seeding.
At the bottom half of the draw Lwamba and Temwa Chileshe are drawn to play each other in the final four. They have current PSA World rankings of 143 and 202.
There are a number of other players with world rankings in both draws creating plenty of depth. The main tournament runs from early matches on Friday evening 30 April with quarters and semis on Saturday 1 May and women’s final 1.45pm followed by the men’s final at 2.45pm, Sunday 2 May.
The weekend also features over 150 players taking part in graded tournaments at the same time at the club.