Commonwealth Games team members set for action in Auckland

Tuesday 16 May 2023, 1:14PM

By dave worsley



International squash returns to Auckland with the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland & Oceania Open including the PSA Challenger tournaments where several Commonwealth Games players will compete against a number of up-and-coming professionals.                                                             

Top seed in the men’s draw is Lwamba Chileshe at an entry ranking of 88 while younger brother Temwa is second seed with a ranking of 113. Both competed for New Zealand at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year.

Lwamba , 24, has won five PSA Challenger tournaments including the 2022 Auckland Open where he beat brother Temwa, 22 in the final in four games.

Third seed Joseph White from Australia always loves competing with the Chileshe brothers and has won in New Zealand with a title at the PSA Challenger the Howick Open in 2021.

Fourth seed is Darren Rahul Pragasam from Malaysia at 130 followed by Japan’s Tomotaka Endo 24 places lower in the rankings while Auckland’s Anthony Lepper is sixth seed at 169, Hong Kong’s Andes Ling is next and another Aucklander Elijah Thomas rounds out the top eight seeds with an entry ranking of 175.

There are a number of other overseas players giving the draw a real international feel to it, while players from Northland such as Flynn Vemore and Freddie Jameson as well as Wellington’s Olivia Dunbar, who are all still teenagers give the tournament real depth among the six different nations in the field.  

For Lwamba the return home after several months away is always good as he tries to defend his title.

“It’s always exciting being back in New Zealand after being overseas training and competing for months. It’s especially exciting seeing a few other Kiwi players basing themselves overseas in the last six months, so I’m looking forward to seeing their improvements,” said Lwamba.

“This year the Barfoot & Thomson Auckland Open has a strong field with some players from Australia and Asia so it should be great to watch with some good quality play. It’s going to be a good challenge for me.”

The women’s draw is head by Australian Commonwealth Games rep, 21-year-old Alex Haydon with a PSA world ranking of 86. After numerous PSA Satellite wins and a couple of runner-up finishes in Challenger events Haydon is looking to rise up the world rankings with a win in Auckland.

Second seed is  Bay of Plenty left-hander Winona Jo-Joyce ranked at 167 in the world, New Zealand team member at Birmingham Abbie Palmer is fourth seed at 178 and at her home club, North Shore.

Other seeds of note in the women’s draw are Lana Harrison a previous winner of the Auckland Champs on two occasions including last year as well as top juniors Ella Lash, the tournament third seed at 174 on the PSA rankings. There’s also improving teen Anne Leakey from Auckland, the Waikato’s Sophie Hodges, Maiden Lee Coe from Mana and Anabel Romero Gemmell (Manawatu).

The Barfoot & Thompson Auckland & Oceania Open PSA Challenger tournament runs from Thursday 18 May to Sunday 21 May, with main court matches streamed on Squash Auckland facebook. Over 130 players taking part in the numerous graded champs, all at the North Shore Club in Takapuna.