It’s a rarity for squash world No.7 Paul Coll to play in New Zealand, let alone against another top ranked PSA player.
Over the next week Coll takes part in five exhibition matches around the country against Diego Elias of Peru who has a current world ranking of 11 but has spent most of the year at 10.
Coll has had a great year including reaching the semfiinal at two Platinum PSA tournaments, the US Open and Cairo as well winning a singles silver medal in Commonwealth Games and a bronze in the mixed with Joelle King.
The 26-year-old is at a current career-high ranking of 7 and has developed his game to challenge and sometimes beat the world’s best.
Elias has had some top results in the past 12 months including reaching the semifinals of the Qatar Classic Platinum event where he beat world No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and also made the semis at the VAS Gold tournament.
The first match is tonight at the Hamilton Squash Club, followed by the second match at the Hawera Squash Club on Friday 14 December.
Auckland is on Sunday December 16 from 7pm at the Squash XL Centre in Avondale which will be televised from 7pm on Duke TV.
Nelson squash club hosts the exhibition on Tuesday 17, followed by Coll’s hometown of Greymouth hosting the final match on Wednesday 19 December.
“It’s great been back,” said Coll “It’s wicked training and sightseeing around the country . We hope everyone is ready to see us play. I’m keen to get on the court against Diego and show Kiwis top squash.”
Also playing at each venue will be Belgium women’s No.1 Nele Giles who is ranked 32 in the world having recently won the Nantes Challenger title. She is the partner of Coll and in Auckland she will play Ellie Epke a New Zealand representative at the world university squash champs this year. This match will lead into the men’s clash in Auckland.
A celebrity contest which features TVNZ Breakfast host Jack Tame against TVNZ 6pm sports host Chris Chang will also be played in Auckland.
One of the organisors of the exhibition tour and the owner of Squash XL, John Duggan believes having the top players in New Zealand fits in nicely for part of a greater plan. “Our goal is to develop world class players and by bringing top 10 professionals to train and compete as well as promote the sport we are delivering on those goals.”
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games squash player, Lance Beddoes has put the exhibition together and is happy to take the sport around country. “It’s fantastic to have these to top player in New Zealand. People can really see top squash. It’s a great way to promote the sport and Paul as well.”
The demand for tickets at each event has been so great that all venues are sold out or have limited tickets available.