Two entertaining finals capped off the 2022 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Open at North Shore Squash Club where a total of 219 entries and players from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and around New Zealand played in the PSA Challenger to 7th Division.
The winner of the women’s PSA 3 Challenger title was wildcard Lana Harrison who previously had been ranked 98th in 2009. Known as a tough uncompromising competitor she faced top seed and world No 163, Abbie Palmer who was playing at her home club.
Palmer, 24, a left-hander with a highly regarded drop and boast shot stayed with Harrison in the early stages of the women’s final as both traded points, plus the odd winner and forced error.
However as the match wore on it was clear Harrison had a play to counter Palmer’s short play and was more often than not able to hold her own and then create trouble for the home-court player eventually winning 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 for her third Auckland Open title after wins in 2008 and 2020.
In the men’s PSA 5 Challenger draw it was a repeat of the previous week at the Panmure Open with the top two seeds, Lwamba ranked 104 and Temwa Chileshe 125 meeting in the final.
On this occasion the match went four games, however the result was still the same as the older Chileshe brother, Lwamba, 23 defeating Temwa 21. It was the fourth final between the pair after wins for Lwamba at Morrinsville, Northland (both last year) and Panmure last week.
It was Temwa who started well and was able to hold off a late charge to take the first game 12-10, however fortunes turned in the second game with Lwamba re-establishing himself with limited mistakes to win 11-4. The third game had a similar pattern as Lwamba kept up his steady play, limiting mistakes and generally frustrating his opponent. In the fourth game the players traded shots until the later stages before a couple of unforced errors eventuated from Temwa to give his brother the game set and match with the set 11-7.
Harrison and Lwamba Chileshe join prestigious names on the women’s trophy since 2000 including Lelani Joyce, Carol Owens, Shelley Kitchen and Joelle King. The men’s winners from 2000 feature Anthony Ricketts, Paul Coll and a host of well-known New Zealand players.