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16/08/2009
NEW ZEALAND OPEN
 

Grinham Grabs New Zealand Open Glory

New Zealand Open 2009
Women's Draw
11-16 Aug, Mt Maunganui, $55k

Round One
13 Aug
Quarters
14 Aug
Semis
15 Aug
Final
16 Aug
[1] Natalie Grainger (Usa)
11-7, 11-8, 11-8
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
 Natalie Grainger
11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-2 (46m)
Madeline Perry
 Natalie Grainger
11-8, 11-5, 11-9
Omneya Abdel Kawy

Natalie Grainger
11-9 11-5 11-8 (28 m)
Natalie Grinham
[6] Madeline Perry (Irl)
11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9 (48m)
Kasey Brown (Aus)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (41m)
[Q] Joelle King (Nzl)
Joelle King
11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8 (36m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
[5] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (28m)
[Q] Lisa Camilleri (Aus)
Annie Au (Hkg)
6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 (40m)
[7] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
Shelley Kitchen
4-11, 15-13, 11-8, 4-11, 11-7 (59m)
Jenny Duncalf
Shelley Kitchen
11-9, 11-2, 11-7
Natalie Grinham
[Q] Engy Kheirallah (Egy)
9-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (58m)
[4] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
[Q] Line Hansen (Den)
11-9, 16-14, 9-11, 5-11, 11-6 (51m)
[8] Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
Line Hansen
11-5, 11-1, 11-9 (28m)
Natalie Grinham
Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
11-5, 11-5, 11-3 (17m)
[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned)

Women's Qualifying - Round 2 (Wednesday Times)
Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (30m)

Joelle King (NZL) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 (46m)

Lisa Camilleri (AUS) bt Kylie Lindsay (NZL) 11-9, 11-4, 10-12, 11-5 (34m)

Line Hansen (DEN) bt Melody Francis (AUS) 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (27m)

Women's Qualifying - Round 1 (Tuesday's Results) 
Engy Kheirallah beat Kozue Onizawa 11/7 11/8 11/2  (20 Mins)
Donna Urquart beat Emma Miller 11/2 11/4 11/5 (17 mins)
Joelle King beat Lana Harrison 11/5 11/1 11/0 (14 mins)
3-45pm    Megan Craig v Lisa Camilleri
4-30pm    Amanda Landers-Murphy v Melody Francis
5-15pm    Jackie Laurenson v Line Hansen

Kylie Lindsay & Joey Chan receive byes.
 

NSC Men's Classic 2009
Men's Draw
11-16 Aug, Mt Maunganui, $10k
Round One
13 Aug
Quarters
14 Aug
Semis
15 Aug
Final
16 Aug
[1] Kashif Shuja (Nzl)
11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)
Alex Grayson (Nzl)
Kashif Shuja
11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (24m)
Jacob Alexander
Kashif Shuja
13-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8
Campbell Grayson
Campbell Grayson
12-10 11-5 10-12 11-7
Martin Knight
[8] Anson Kwong (Hkg)
12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 (44m)
[Q] Jacob Alexander (Aus)
[3] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (32m)
[Q] Leo Au (Hkg)
Campbell Grayson
11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8 (62m)
Zac Alexander
[5] Zac Alexander (Aus)
4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (42m)
Nathan Stevenson (Aus)
Wai Hang Wong (Hkg)
4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (42m)
[7] Justin Beard (Aus)
Wai Hang Wong
11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (21m)
Matthew Karwalski
Matthew Karwalski
11-7, 11-8, 13-11
Martin Knight
[Q] Rex Hedrick (Aus)
v11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7 (36m)
[4] Matthew Karwalski (Aus)
[Q] Evan Williams (Nzl)
12-10, 11-5, 11-9 (23m)
[6] Joshua Greenfield (Nzl)
Joshua Greenfield
11-7, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8 (51m)
Martin Knight
Graeme Wilson (Nzl)
11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (37m)
[2] Martin Knight (Nzl)

Qualifying finals:

Leo Au (HKG) bt Cheng Yao Huang (TPE) 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5 (45m)

Rex Hedrick (AUS) bt Hon Fung Wong (HKG) 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (28m)

Jacob Alexander (AUS) bt Luke Forster (AUS) 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4 (30m)

Evan Williams (NZL) bt Peter Taylor (AUS) 11-4, 14-12, 5-11, 11-8 (55m)

 

Men's Qualifying - Round 1 Results
Cheng Yau Haung   bye
5-00pm  Leo Au (HK) v Chris Lloyd (NZ)
5-45pm Hon Fung Wong (HK) v James Skiffington (NZ)
5-45pm Lance Beddoes (NZ) v Rex Hendrick (AUS)
6-30pm Luke Forster (AUS) v Matiu Te Kani McQueen (NZ)
6-30pm Jacob Alexandra (AUS) v Joseph Watts (NZ)
7-15pm  Evan Williams (NZ) v Brryce Redman (NZ)
7-15pm Peter Taylor (AUS) v Lui Syder (NZ)
 

Official Site


 

Grinham Grabs New Zealand Open Glory

 

Dutch squash star Natalie Grinham grabbed the biggest WISPA World Tour title of her life when she upset top seed Natalie Grainger in the final of the A1 Homes New Zealand Womenís Squash Open at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand.

 

The $55,000 WISPA World Tour Gold event at the Bayfair Shopping Centre marked the first staging of the New Zealand Open since 1993.

 

The world No3 from the Netherlands gained her first Gold star victory of the year with a straight games win over US favourite Grainger in a dominant display 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 in 28 minutes - while, in the all-kiwi final of the New Zealand Menís Classic, third seed Campbell Grayson edged out his training partner Martin Knight, the second seed.

 

Australian-born Grinham finished a successful four-event tour with a superb display over Grainger, her eighth win from 17 head-to-head clashes with the England-born American citizen.

 

The diminutive Grinham never let Grainger into the game, showing lots of deft touches at the front of the court and using her sublime speed around the court to good effect.

 

"At the beginning of the year, I was quite sick," explained 31-year-old Grinham later.   "To get back really fit and to win a gold star event is just great.

 

"The plan was to move Natalie around today.  She loves to dominate the centre of the court although she did put a few balls down today.  I tried to keep it away from her volley.  I was hitting my drops well again today and overall I am really happy with my game.

 

"All the girls are happy with this event.  We have had a great week and been looked after so well.  To come out and win is the icing on the cake for me."

 

Grinham - who now boasts 14 WISPA titles, including three Gold - will bypass the British Open and return to the Netherlands to prepare for the world championships later in the year, where she hopes to come up against world No1 Nicol David who beat her in two finals in Asia before New Zealand.

 

"I wish Nicol had come here actually," added the NZ Open champion.  "I want to keep having another go at her until I get her.  Itís nice to win a tournament but I kind of wish she was here."

 

Grainger, in her first tournament back since May, said she was unable to get into the match today.

 

"She just never let me into the match.  I made some mistakes early and tried really hard but could not get going.  I thought if I could get one game I might be able to put some pressure on," Grainger said.

 

"She has come off three good tournament results and I am just coming back to the game.  Natalie was really far too good for me today.  I am disappointed obviously but pleased with my progress after a layoff."

 

Both Grainger and Grinham said they plan to return next year to the A1 Homes New Zealand Open.

 

New Zealand's four-time world squash champion Dame Susan Devoy believes the successful revamped A1 Homes New Zealand Open can form a crucial part of the sportís future in this country.

 

Dame Devoy said she was delighted to play a role in re-establishing the event which she won eight times in her illustrious career.

 

"The New Zealand Open was a really important part of my squash career. I spent most of the year travelling overseas and it was a great chance to play at home.

 

"The menís and womenís tournament this week on the glass court here at Bayfair, coupled with attracting the worldís best players down here, is great for the profile of the game in this country.  It shows our young players where they need to get to, and itís been a real boost for the likes of Joelle King and Shelley Kitchen who have played so well this week."

 

Earlier Campbell Grayson impressed with his effort in beating Knight 12-10, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7 in a 79-minute battle.

 

It was a top performance from the 23-year-old who had to dig deep after a five-game quarterfinal victory and four-game win over top seed Kashif Shuja in the semi-final.

 

"I felt really good at the start but, as the match wore on, it got tougher.  He is such a good receiver and I missed match ball in the third, and felt really tired," said Grayson, after his second PSA Tour title success.

 

"I just got through on adrenalin.  Iíve worked so hard in the last four months on my fitness and got a second wind and came through with the win."

 

Grayson said the pair, who train together and will travel to Europe together tomorrow night, always have tough battles.

 

"We are good friends and we know each other so well.  But when you step on to the court you are another rival really.  When you have played each other so many times, it feels like normal now."

 

The world No57 was thrilled with what he believes is his best career performance:  "This is the best tournament I have ever played in. I am so happy to win it. This tournament is just so amazing. The atmosphere here, the court, having your friends and family here is just so awesome.

 

"Martin and I are both travelling away for three months, based in Cardiff.  I am confident we can push our world rankings up.  This is a good way to start.  I am in good form and I am fit, so itís exciting."

 

Top-Seeded Natalies To Contest New Zealand Open Final

 

World No3 Natalie Grinham has ended the fairytale run of Shelley Kitchen after beating the seventh-seeded local star to win her way through to the final of the A1 Homes New Zealand Womenís Squash Open at Mt Maunganui.

 

The second seed from the Netherlands will face favourite and world number two Natalie Grainger in Sunday's final of the $55,000 WISPA World Tour Gold event, the first staging of the New Zealand Open since 1993.

 

Grinham was too fast and strong for Kitchen - winning in straight games 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 after US star Grainger earlier won her semi in three games over Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-8, 11-5, 11-9.

 

It was the best career performance from the kiwi in what was only her second semi-final in a WISPA Gold Star event.  Kitchen's performances should see her rise in the world rankings.

 

"I went all-out in that first game and I was quite disappointed not to win that one," said Kitchen, from Auckland.  "A couple of mistakes late in that game proved really costly.  If I had been able to nail that one I think the match would have turned out differently.

 

"She came back really firing and my length was off and I tried to pick things up in the third but that is why she is currently one of the best in the world.  She is so fast so whatever I tried to do she was able to cover it with her speed.

 

"I just wanted to play well in this event and to make the semis here at home is fantastic.  Itís been the best week ever for squash in New Zealand during my time in the sport.  The profile in the media has been great, the support from the fans and the opportunity for our players has been just awesome.

 

"Hereís hoping that all the sponsors have done well and this can continue and build from here in the future."

 

Grinham, in her second WISPA Gold final in a week, was pleased with her form:  "I thought I played really well.  After I hit the first four balls down, I started to find my range and chopped some nice short balls from the back.  It seemed to be working and I stuck with it," said the Australian-born 31-year-old.

 

"The fans were definitely getting in behind Shelley but you just try to block it out and play as good as you can."

 

Earlier Grainger found her best form in dominating Kawy - celebrating her 24th birthday - in her first tournament for more than two months.  "I felt quite sharp today. It was really good," said the former world number one from Greenwich, New York.  "I am making progress this week.  Omneya and I have similar styles so today was always going to be sort sharp rallies.  My focus was a lot better today and I stayed focussed right to the end.

 

"I am really pleased to be in the final.  I havenít had a tournament since May so I am looking forward to it.  Itís going to be a huge battle."

 

The two Natalies boast more than 70 WISPA Tour final appearances between them - with Grainger now looking forward to her 44th, and Grinham her 35th!

 

The final of the one-star New Zealand Menís Classic will be an all-kiwi affair, with second seed Martin Knight taking on Aucklandís Campbell Grayson, who upset No1 seed and New Zealand champion Kashif Shuja in the semi-finals of the $10,000 PSA World Tour event.

 

Grayson edged out Shuja, ranked almost 20 places higher in the world, 13-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 in a 65 minute battle, to continue their rivalry - with the pair training together on a regular basis.

 

"Over the last six years we have trained and played together untold times - we know each other pretty well," said 23-year-old Grayson.

 

ďI have only beaten him five times and Iíve lost count how many times he has won.  But I have managed to beat him each time weíve played this year.

 

"Thatís the first time I have beaten him in a PSA event.  That was a big win for me.  Itís probably my best performance.  I had a really tough match yesterday and so I am happy to back up from that."

 

Earlier Knight, the Wellington-born Auckland-based player, accounted for Australiaís Matthew Karwalski in straight games 11-7, 11-8, 13-11.

 

Kitchen Storms Into New Zealand Open Semis

 

New Zealandís Shelley Kitchen, the seventh seed, produced a stunning performance to claim a surprise place in the semi-finals of the A1 Homes New Zealand Womenís Squash Open after upsetting world number five Jenny Duncalf in a thrilling quarter-final match in the $55,000 WISPA World Tour Gold event at Mount Maunganui which went the full distance.

 

The 4-11, 15-13, 11-8, 4-11, 11-7 victory marks the first time that the world number 10 from Auckland has qualified for the last four of a WISPA Gold world event since the Carol Weymuller Open in 2007 - and takes the Aucklander into the biggest semi-final of her career.

 

Kitchen will take on Natalie Grinham after the Dutch-based Australian-born world number three breezed past Danish qualifier Line Hansen 11-5, 11-1, 11-9.

 

The other semi-final pits USA's top seed Natalie Grainger against Egyptís Omneya Abdel Kawy.  Earlier Grainger was pushed to five games before edging out Ireland's sixth seed Madeline Perry while Kawy proved too strong for kiwi qualifier Joelle King in four games.

 

The hard-earned victory was Kitchen's first over Duncalf in five meetings over the last two years.

 

The English woman started fast, winning the first game with ease after a 6-0 lead.  Kitchen led 8-5 in the second before Duncalf edged to match ball at 10-8.  The kiwi dug deep to level the scores and stave off four match balls before claiming the game 15-13.  While Kitchen dominated the third, Duncalf was much too strong in the fourth.

 

The final game saw Duncalf ahead 6-5 before a crucial run gave Kitchen the lead 9-6 and she finished the match with two deft winners.

 

"That was so pleasing," said Kitchen.  "I really wanted to play well tonight in front of all the people who have made this tournament possible in New Zealand.  To make a semi-final at a gold star event is great. I am really thrilled."

 

The 29-year-old from Kaitaia said she had to dig deep after Duncalf made such a fast start.  "She never let me into the match, broke things up and turned me around.  But as we got into the match, I found my length.  I really think the glass court suits me and I managed to generate some good speed off the walls.

 

"The final game was all about focus. I donít think I made a mistake all game. It was great to have the big crowd here Ė although it would be even better to have them a bit more vocal.  Maybe tomorrow."

 

Earlier the giant-killing run of Joelle King came to an end when the Hamilton 20-year-old lost to world number seven Kawy 11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8.

 

It is the first time that King has qualified for a gold star level world event and her performances should see the kiwi, currently ranked 39, move inside the worldís top 30.

 

"I was naturally disappointed. I really thought I could win today," King said.  "I found it hard to get up again for a second big game in a row.  Iíve never been in a tournament of this level and still need to understand and have the strength to get up day after day and produce your best.

 

"Omneya is a top player and she controlled the rallies. I fought really hard but this is very much part of the learning process for me.

 

ďIíve come a long way in a few weeks and I am proud of what I have achieved. I firmly believe now that I can become a top-10 player in the world and even world number one.Ē

 

Australia's Matthew Karwalski stands in the way of an all-NZ final in the men's New Zealand Classic after the 23-year-old from New South Wales beat Hong Kong's Wai Hang Wong 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 to reach the semi-finals of the $10,000 PSA World Tour event.

 

Fourth seed Karwalski will face New Zealander Martin Knight following the second seed's 11-7, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8 defeat of fellow countryman Joshua Greenfield.

 

Top-seeded Kiwi Kashif Shuja beat Australian qualifier Jacob Alexander 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 and will now face compatriot Campbell Grayson in the semis after the third seed also beat an Australian, fifth seed Zac Alexander, 11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8.

 

King Crowns Grinham In Major New Zealand Open Upset

 

Kiwi qualifier Joelle King secured the "biggest win Iíve had so far" in the opening round of the A1 Homes New Zealand Womenís Squash Open when she upset Australia's former world number one Rachael Grinham, the No3 seed, in the $55,000 WISPA World Tour Gold event at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand.

 

The 20-year-old from Hamilton will join fellow New Zealander Shelley Kitchen in the quarter-finals after the world No10 from Auckland prevailed in four games over Hong Kongís Annie Au on the glass court at Bayfair Shopping Centre.

 

King produced a confident performance to down former world champion Grinham 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 in front of a hearty home crowd.  The world No39 played with confidence and hit with excellent depth to keep the super-fast Grinham in the back court.  The experienced Australian tried to slow the game down in the third game but King was able to show patience to force her way to a brilliant victory.

 

King said her game plan worked well:  "Iíve played Rachael before and knew how she played.  She has been around the scene for a long time and has a brilliant short game.  So I knew if I could keep her behind me and play my game I would come out on top," said the local star. 

 

"I played out of my skin today.  Itís the biggest win Iíve had so far.  She is No4 in the world.  Iíve been having a great time of late and hopefully it carries on."

 

King said the support from friends and family was an advantage.  "I had tons of family and people from my club here to support me. It was huge."

 

Kitchen, New Zealandís top-ranked player and No7 seed at the tournament, overcame the illusive left-hander Au 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5.  Au, ranked 14 in the world, played with deft touch to force the 29-year-old kiwi into a running game but Kitchen showed plenty of patience and dominated the final game.

 

"She has had some good wins on the Tour over the last 18 months," said Kitchen.  "When I saw I had her in the draw I knew I was in for a tough match.

 

"Annie breaks up your momentum.  She cuts a lot of balls really short.  Not many girls play like that and I donít get to practice against that sort of player.  Itís always a bit of a shock to always be going to the front of the court.

 

Top seed Natalie Grainger showed little signs of a player who is playing her first tournament in three months with some outstanding touches and good pace against local player Jaclyn Hawkes, the world No16.

 

The New Zealander had her chances, up 8-5 in the second game and 7-4 in the third but could not convert against the classy US favourite.

 

Earlier Danish qualifier Line Hansen and England's world number five Jenny Duncalf had to endure five-games to progress to the quarterfinals.  Hansen upset world No11 Isabelle Stoehr, the No8 seed from France, 11-9, 16-14, 9-11, 5-11, 11-6 for the best scalp of her career. 

 

"That is the best win of my career, and the highest-ranked player I have beaten, so I am very pleased," said the 26-year-old from Odense.  "I tried to stay focussed.  I lost heaps of five setters so I tried to stay calm and play one rally at a time and focus on good length and good shots and not what the score was."

 

Duncalf came back from two games down against the talented Egyptian Engy Kheirallah who impressed with some outstanding angled winners.  The England player settled in the third game and from that point was too quick at the front of the court for Kheirallah in the longest game of the tournament so far, in just under an hour.

 

"It was pretty difficult in the end.  Even though Engy is ranked 22 now, she is better than that.  She is always difficult to play especially when you give her angles,Ē said Duncalf.

 

All the main seeds progressed to the quarter-finals in the Menís New Zealand Classic with the New Zealand top seeds Kashif Shuja, Martin Knight and Campbell Grayson all through in straight games to reach the quarter-finals of the $10,000 PSA World Tour event.

 

But there were upsets which led to Australian qualifier Jacob Alexander and unseeded Hong Kong player Wai Hang Wong reaching the last eight.  Alexander, a 17-year-old Queenslander, ousted Anson Kwong, the No8 seed from Hong Kong, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, while 32-year-old Wai Hang Wong ousted seventh-seeded Australian Justin Beard 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6.

 

Kiwi King Crashes Into New Zealand Open Main Draw

 

Kiwi Joelle King showed her fighting spirit to come from two games down to qualify for the main draw of the A1 Homes New Zealand Womenís Squash Open at Bayfair in Mount Maunganui in New Zealand today (Wednesday).

 

The 20-year-old from Hamilton is the lowest-ranked of four players to win through from qualifying and will take her place in her first-ever WISPA World Tour Gold main draw, which has attracted seven of the worldís top 10 vying for the $55,000 prize fund.

 

World No39 King overcame talented Australian left-hander Donna Urquhart, ranked eight places higher in the world, eventually prevailing 9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 after 46 minutes.

 

She joins world number 23 Engy Kheirallah (Egypt), world 38 Lisa Camilleri (Australia) and world 28 Line Hansen (Denmark) as the four qualifiers into the main draw.

 

King made a tentative start as Urquhart dominated the opening two games. The kiwi, who won the Australian Open last month, found better length and dominated the rallies to win the next two games to force the match into the deciding fifth game.

 

Both players fought strongly with the lead changing hands six times in the decider before being tied at 9-9.  King dug deep to win the final two points for victory.

 

"Itís great to make it into a main draw of a tournament of this level," said King, who now meets Australia's former world number one Rachael Grinham, the third seed, in the first round.  "I really struggled early on.  I was really nervous playing at home in front of friends and family.

 

"I was very tentative and just did not see the ball well at all right through. So to come back and win is pretty special. To win over a player as good as Donna when you are not playing well gives me real confidence.

 

"I know I will need to step up tomorrow in the first round and will need to play a lot better."

 

Earlier Kheirallah was impressive in despatching Hong Kong's world number 37 Joey Chan in straight games 11-8 11-7 11-8.

 

The 27-year-old from the squash-mad city of Cairo said she was pleased with her performance after struggling with lack of recent tournament play and jet lag. Her last tournament was in June.

 

"I felt much better today.  I struggled yesterday and did not feel that good.  It is a long flight from Cairo. And I have not been in a big tournament for a little while.  This is my first Gold Star this year."

 

Camilleri was made to work hard against Kylie Lindsay, the three-time New Zealand junior champion who is now based in the squash stronghold of Halifax in northern England.  The young kiwi came from two games down to claim the third game but was beaten 11-9 11-4 10-12 11-5.

 

Hansen was too classy for talented young Australian Melody Francis, winning in straight games 11-6 11-9 11-9.

 

There is a further New Zealander in the main draw for the New Zealand Menís Classic, the $10,000 PSA World Tour event.  Evan Williams, from Wellington, won through in his second round match to join the other qualifiers Leo Au (HGK) and Australians Rex Hedrick and Jacob Alexander in the main draw starting tomorrow.

 

The key match tomorrow pits New Zealandís Jaclyn Hawkes, world number 15, against the top seed and world number two Natalie Grainger (USA) - while top-ranked Kiwi Shelley Kitchen meets a tough first-up opponent in Hong Kongís Annie Au.

 

Grainger Marks Comeback At New Zealand Open

 

After being forced to miss recent major events on the international Squash circuit, world number two Natalie Grainger will mark her comeback at this week's A1 Homes New Zealand Womenís Open, the $55,500 WISPA World Tour Gold event at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand from 13-16 August.

 

It is the first time in 16 years that the event, which will be staged on an all-glass court at Bayfair Shopping Centre, has been held.

 

US star Grainger has recovered from a foot injury that has forced her off the Tour since reaching the final of the Texas Open in May. 

 

New Zealand number one Shelley Kitchen is also coming back after illness:  Troubled by a virus and extreme fatigue, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist exited the World Games in the second round.  Kitchen returned to New Zealand, withdrawing from the CIMB Bank-sponsored Malaysian Open and Singapore Masters events.

 

"I had some time out and have bounced back well," said the world number ten from Auckland.  "I think it was a virus and I just had no energy at all.  But after a few days off, I feel fine and have trained well."

 

Kitchen has had training matches against fellow kiwis Jaclyn Hawkes, world number 16, and Joelle King, world number 39, in readiness for the New Zealand Open.

 

She and Grainger will test their fitness when they pair-off in two exhibition matches, in Kitchenís home town of Kaitaia and at Herne Bay Squash Club on the North Shore before heading to Mt Maunganui for the WISPA event.

 

Top seed Grainger lines up against New Zealand number two Jaclyn Hawkes in the first round.  In the final, the three-time US champion is expected to meet Dutch star Natalie Grinham, the in-form world number three who was runner-up in both the World Games and last week's Singapore Masters.

 

Organisers are thrilled with the strength of the field:  "Itís just fantastic.  We were hoping for three or four of the world top 10, but this is as strong as many of the major squash championships around the world - which is remarkable for our first New Zealand Open after so many years," said tournament director Wayne Werder.

 

"We have received tremendous international support since the announcement of the event and New Zealand has a rich heritage in the sport.  We are going to see some absolutely sensational squash."

 

The New Zealand Womenís Open is being staged alongside the Menís New Zealand Classic, a $10,000 PSA World Tour championship.  Both begin tomorrow, with the qualifying rounds to find the final four places for the main draws that starts on Thursday.