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.
On this occasion Watts was again determined and refused to give up with some inspiring play as both finalists went on the offensive in a five game contest.
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.
Placemakers Waikato Squash Open Men’s semifinal:
Evan Williams bt Willz Donnelly 11-6, 11- 4, 11-4,
Temwa Chileshe bt Lwamba Chileshe 4-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-6,
Williams bt Temwa Chileshe 11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6.
Placemakers Waikato Squash Open Women’s semifinals:
Emma Millar bt Natalie Sayes 11-8, 11-4, 11-6,
Kaitlyn Watts bt Abbie Palmer 13-11, 11-5, 11-8.
Watts bt Millar.9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3, 11-8