The top two seeds in both men’s and women’s draws at the New Zealand Squash Nationals in Auckland will contest the finals after another huge day of two matches each for every player.
A new champion will be confirmed at the North Shore Squash Club, the venue for the 2020 tournament with the absence of the Paul Coll and Joelle King the defending champions.
In the men’s draw Evan Williams from Wellington the world No.87 is into his third final of the tournament after runners-up finishes in 2010 and 2018. He faces second ranked Lwamba Chileshe at 144 in the world. Both players had straight game wins in their matches.
The left-handed Williams played a composed match to defeat Joel Arscott 12-10 in the third in the quarters and then Temwa Chileshe in straight games in his semifinal. His rival for the title, Lwamba Chileshe had a straight game win over Willz Donnelly 14-12 in the third before accounting for a seemingly fatigued third seed Chris Van der Salm also in straight games in the semis.
Twenty-six year-old Van der Salm had earlier played out a five game quarter-final epic in just over an hour against Lance Beddoes which featured plenty of shot-making and also contested calls.
In the women’s draw left-hander Abbie Palmer playing on her home courts took a while to get going in her semifinal against power hitter, Lana Harrison the third seed. Palmer eventually coming through with a 6-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8 win to make her first final.
Palmer will take on top seed Emma Millar for the title after the Waikato player dispatched eighth seed Juee Bhide in straight games in her quarter-final and then defeated fellow Waikato player Sophie Hodges in straight games.
For Hodges making the top four of the tournament was a big effort considering she is just 15-year-old. The hard-hitting teen from Hamilton Girls High School would have learnt plenty from her more experienced opponent in the form of the 112th ranked Millar. One occasions Hodges was able to hold her own and even use her powerful forehand to good effect, however the experience of Millar was telling at vital times.
The women’s final is scheduled for 2.20pm followed by the men’s final from 3pm.
(1) Evan Williams (Wellington) bt (9) Joel Arscott (Auckland) 11-7, 11-6, 12-10; (5) Temwa Cheleshe (Waikato) bt (4) Zac Millar (Waikato) 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5; (2) Lwamba Cheleshe (Waikao) bt (10) Wills Donnelly (Taupo) 11-4, 11-4, 14-12; (3) Chris Van Der Slam (Canterbury) bt (6) Lance Beddoes (Auckland) 11-4, 7-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7
(1) Emma Millar (Waikato) bt (8) Juee Bhide (Auckland) 11-7, 11-1, 11-8; (4) Sophie Hodges (Waikato) bt (5) Debbie Dunbar (Wellington) 11-9, 11-5, 11-7; (2) Abbie Palmer (Auckland) bt (7) Lauren Clarke (Bay of Plenty) 11-3, 11-2, 11-9 ; (3) Lana Harrison (Auckland) bt (6) Natalie Sayes (Auckland) 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 .
Williams bt T Chileshe 11-5, 11-4, 11-5, L Chileshe bt Van der Salm 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.
Millar bt Hodges 11-7, 11-5, 11-2, Palmer bt Harrison 6-11,, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8.