Invercargill Licensing Trust NZ Southern Open
Invercargill, New Zealand
Craig For NZ Crown
Providing the perfect omen for Squash just hours
before the sport was shortlisted for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020
Olympic Games, Japan's top-ranked player Misaki Kobayashi
won the Women's Invercargill Licensing Trust NZ Southern Open
in New Zealand against expectations.
It was after upsetting top-seeded South African
Siyoli Waters in the semi-finals of the WSA Challenger 10
event at Squash City Invercargill in Invercargill that
second seed Kobayashi, the record six-time Japanese national
champion from Yokohama, lined up against Kiwi hope Megan Craig,
the No.4 seed from Blenheim, in the final.
It was the first meeting between world No.36
Kobayashi and the reigning New Zealand champion, ranked 13 places
lower (both pictured above).
Craig, winner of her first Tour event on home soil
only a week earlier, took the opening game. But the Japanese star
bounced back to take the next three to record her 6-11, 11-9, 11-6,
11-5 title triumph in 38 minutes.
"I'm really happy to end the season with a win - and
happy with the coolest trophy I've ever got too,"
exclaimed 25-year-old Kobayashi after securing the eighth WSA World
Tour title of her career.
"This win means a lot to me as squash still has a
huge chance to get into the Olympics and I hope my result will
encourage the Olympic committee members to know that there is bright
future for squash and a real chance for a Japanese athlete to win a
medal if it gets into 2020!" md