There’s plenty of home advantage as top level squash is in Hamilton this week with a PSA Challenger tournament featuring prizemoney 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 Emma 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 at Royal Oak 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.”
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 seeded to play each other in the final four. They have current PSA World rankings of 143 and 202 respectively.
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.
Main court matches will be streamed on the club facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hamiltonsquashandtennisclub