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World Class Squash returns to Palmerston North

2011 Martin & Campbell

This weekend InspireNet SquashGym, Palmerston North hosts the Fitzherbert Rowe Lawyers New Zealand International Squash Classic. This is the second consecutive year the event has included a PSA section but the 2013 edition has attracted a higher quality field than the 2012 tournament.

SquashGym tournament Director Grant Smith is pleased with the calibre of player that includes world number 33 Alan Clyne from Scotland. ‘We have a superb field and the best we could have hoped for, it builds on the start we made with the 2012 event and previous years,” Smith said. Smith is no stranger to organising top level Squash having bought two World Championships to Palmerston North over the past eight years.

The tournament which has $18,000.00 prize money also doubles as the regions Central Open. A truly international flavour will be seen at SquashGym with players from Australia, Pakistan, Japan, Scotland, Poland, Finland, Hong Kong as well as New Zealand taking to the courts.

Clyne will be the top seed and is the best player to hit New Zealand’s shores for a professional event in a number of years. Boasting a World ranking of 33, the Scotsman will be hard to beat this week. He has four main tour titles and six runner up finishes while competing all over the world. He is expected to meet Hong Kong’s Leo Au in the final. Au is currently ranked 46 in the world and has met Clyne twice in 2013 for two losses. The most recent of those was less than a month ago in Colombia with Clyne winning 3 – 1.

The top seeded New Zealander is 2013 National Champion Martin Knight. Knight is the third seed and is on course for a second round clash with Palmerston North based and defending champion Kashif Shuja. Knight defeated Shuja in the semi-finals of the recent New Zealand Champs and Shuja will be out to avenge that result. Shuja is an experienced PSA player and has now slipped to 210 in the world with Knight at 53. Shuja is a much better player than his ranking indicates and the winner of this match will be New Zealand’s best hope of a player making the final.

The other local hope is Joseph Watts who has been granted the wild card by tournament organisers and has drawn fellow New Zealander Paul Coll in the first round.

Qualifying for the final four spots in the Men’s PSA draw begins Wednesday lunchtime with the main draw underway Thursday evening. Players looking to qualify for the main draw have come from Japan, England, Australia and all over New Zealand for their chance to compete against the likes of Clyne and Au. The final starts at 3.00pm on Sunday.

The tournament has attracted 136 players throughout the grades which will make for a busy weekend at the SquashGym Club. Entry to the tournament for spectators is free.

Keep an eye out on our facebook page for results.

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