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
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.
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
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
Grainger, in her
first tournament back since May, said she was unable to get into the match
"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.
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."
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
"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."
Natalies To Contest New Zealand Open Final
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
"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
"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
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."
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.
Into New Zealand Open Semis
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.
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.
victory was Kitchen's first over Duncalf in five meetings over the last two
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
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."
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."
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
"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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
"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.
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
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