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03-Aug, Finals:

[1] David Palmer (Aus) bt [3] Kashif Shuja (Nzl)         11/7, 14/12, 11/8 (40m)
[7] Annie Au (Hkg) bt [1] Kasey Brown (Aus)             6/11, 7/11, 11/6, 11/6, 12/10 (80m)

It's Palmer - finally
Andrew Dent reports

David Palmer finally righted one of Australian squash’s greatest anomalies when he took out the Australian Open squash title with a straight games win over New Zealand’s Kashif Shuja in Clare, South Australia on Sunday.

Palmer had won four British Open and two World Open titles heading into the tournament but had never managed to win his home championship in what has been a glittering career.

But in a highly entertaining final he beat Shuja 11-7, 14-12, 11-8 to put his name on the trophy alongside players such as Geoff Hunt, Chris Ditmar and Ross and Brett Martin.

“I was pretty confident coming in but rankings aside you obviously still have to win,” the world number five said.

“I was much higher ranked than the other guys here and I wasn’t at my best because I’m in my off-season.

“But at the end of the day I’m happy to win and finally get my name on the trophy with those other great Australian players.”

Palmer said winning the title was one of his main career goals when he first started playing.

As a junior learning the game in the New South Wales town of Lithgow, he targeted the Australian junior and senior titles, the British Open and the World Open.

“I just didn’t think it would take me this long to win the Australian Open,” the 32-year-old said.

Shuja, the world number 41, pushed Palmer hard and played some stunning squash in the final, surprising Palmer with some of his shot making.

“He’s a talented player – he’s number 40 in the world and after this he’ll probably go to number 30, so he can play,” Palmer said.

“But I thought I was on top for most of it. He had me running around a bit, but that’s part of the game. When my attacking shots aren’t working I can rely on my retrieving ability.

“He hit some really nice shots – I thought he might fall off in the third because I thought after the second he was pushing pretty hard, but I couldn’t quite pull away in the third.”

Shuja was left ruing his lack of self-belief on important points.

“I’m happy with the way I played today – it was a much better game than the last time I played him,” Shuja said.

“He absolutely dominated me the last time we played. Obviously because of who he is and the way he plays he has a presence about him and I think I doubted myself at the end of each game and that made a huge difference.”  

Au comeback stuns Brown

Hong Kong’s Annie Au came from two games down then saved two match balls to beat top seed Kasey Brown in a thrilling women’s final.

The seventh seeded Au looked headed for defeat when Brown took the opening two games, but fought back magnificently to overcome the world number 13 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 in 80 minutes and become the first Hong Kong player to win the Australian Open.

In a match deserving of the final, Brown and Au thrilled the crowd with their never-say-die attacking styles. Brown, who won the title in 2008, had match balls at 10-8 in the fifth, but Au refused to concede and won the next four points to close out the match.

Both players scrambled for every ball in the opening stages of the first game, but Brown’s superior strength and speed gradually began to tell as she opened up a vital break.

Au tried to bring the taller Australian forward, but Brown countered by pushing Au to the corners and comfortably took the first game. Au said she had trouble adapting to the pace of Brown in the opening games.

“In the first two games I couldn’t match her speed in the back court and I kept thinking I could not play my favourite shots,” she said.

“In the third game I think she slowed down and I was able to go on the attack, and it was the same in the fourth.”

The decider became a war of attrition and Brown looked likely to claim her second title when she led 10-8 before Au rallied again.

“I was just thinking ‘I still have a chance’ so I didn’t give up and I just relaxed. I think because I had already made it to the final I didn’t have anything to lose,” she said.

A disappointed Brown said Au had just played too well over the closing stages. “She hit some amazing shots – I just couldn’t do anything with them,” she said.

Seeded seventh heading into the tournament, Au claimed the scalps of the top three seeds on three consecutive days to become a worthy champion.

“This summer I didn’t have any school so I was able to do more training and today I didn’t feel tired,” she said.

She said getting her name on a trophy that also featured some of the greatest names in the history of women’s squash would give her enormous confidence going forward.

“I think I will get a lot of momentum for my career,” she said. “I also think it will get our sport a lot of publicity in Hong Kong and encourage more people to start playing.”


Palmer heads
back to NSW

Australian Open 2008
Clare, 29-Jul-03 Aug $26k
Round One
31-Jul
Quarters
01-Aug
Semis
02-Aug
Final
03-Aug
[1] David Palmer (Aus)
11/9, 11/5, 11/7 (32m)
[Q] Martin Knight (Nzl) 
[1] David Palmer
11/9, 11/4, 11/8 (29m)
[8] Adil Maqbool
[1] David Palmer

11/4, 11/6, 11/4 (29m)

Robbie Temple

[1] David Palmer

11/7, 14/12, 11/8 (40m)

[3] Kashif Shuja

[8] Adil Maqbool (Pak)
11/9, 11/6, 12/10 (28m)
[Q] Zac Alexander (Aus) 
[4] Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
11/6, 11/5, 11/8 (35m)
[Q] Justin Beard (Aus) 
[4] Aaron Frankcomb
11/8, 11/6, 11/8 (52m)
Robbie Temple
[7] Bradley Hindle (Aus)
7/11, 11/6, 11/8 (43m)
Robbie Temple (Eng) 
Steve Finitsis (Aus)
11/9, 11/9, 11/9 (44m)
[5] Scott Arnold (Aus)
[5] Scott Arnold
5/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/7 (45m)
[3] Kashif Shuja
[3] Kashif Shuja

11/9, 9/11, 7/11, 11/5, 11/6 (61m)

[Q] Campbell Grayson

Mike Corren (Aus)
11/7, 3/11, 11/8, 14/12 (38m)
[3] Kashif Shuja (Nzl)
[Q] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
11/6, 11/9, 13/11 (56m)
[6] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
[Q] Campbell Grayson
14/12, 11/6, 5/11, 8/11, 11/9 (79m)
[2] Chris Ryder
Matthew Karwalski (Aus)
11/9, 11/7, 11/7 (43m)
[2] Chris Ryder (Eng)


Qualifying:

30-Jul, Finals:

Zac Alexander (Aus) bt Dick Lau (Hkg)                        8/11, 11/8, 11/4, 11/9 (36m)
Martin Knight (Nzl) bt Steve Robinson (Aus)                 11/5, 6/11, 11/5, 11/4 (39m)
Justin Beard (Aus) bt Max Lee (Hkg)                   4/11, 11/8, 3/11, 11/7, 11/7 (41m)
Campbell Grayson (Nzl) bt Joshua Greenfield (Nzl)     11/7, 9/11, 11/5, 12/10 (42m)

29-Jul, Round One:

Dick Lau (HKG) bt Carl Hampson (RSA)                  11/6, 12/10, 10/12, 11/7 (44m)
Zac Alexander bt Nathan Kam                                           11/5, 11/3, 11/5 (22m)
Steve Robinson bt Brent Dunkley                                       11/5, 11/5, 11/1 (18m)
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Nathan Stevenson                            11/5, 11/3, 11/6 (27m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Josh Cardwell                                         11/2, 11/9, 11/2 (22m)
Justin Beard bt Joseph Desira                                            11/6, 11/7, 11/8 (34m)
Joshua Greenfield (NZL) bt Luke Forster                             11/8, 11/9, 11/8 (24m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Anson Kwong (HKG)                11/6, 11/3, 11/6



28-Jul, Pre-Qualifying:

Luke Forster (Qld) bt Courtney West (Qld)                13/11, 11/7, 11/13, 11/6
Nathan Kam (NSW) bt Tim Cowell (WA)                       9/11, 11/5, 11/3, 11/8
Nathan Stevenson (Qld) bt Peter Taylor (Qld)                       11/5, 11/3, 11/5
Brent Dunkley (SA) bt Neeraj Aggarwal (Vic)                    11/8, 12/10, 13/11
 

 
Australian Open 2008
Clare, 29 Jul-03 Aug $16k
Round One
31 Jul
Quarters
01 Aug
Semis
02 Aug
Final
03 Aug
[1] Kasey Brown (Aus)
11/6, 11/6, 11/7 (29m)
Joey Chan (Hkg)
[1] Kasey Brown
11/7, 11/8, 11/6 (41m)
[5] Amelia Pittock
[1] Kasey Brown

11/6, 11/9, 11/1 n(28m)

[8] Joelle King

[1] Kasey Brown

6/11, 7/11, 11/6, 11/6, 12/10 (80m)

[7] Annie Au

[5] Amelia Pittock (Aus)
11/8, 11/6, 11/5 (21m)
[Q] Melody Francis (Aus)
[4] Christina Mak (Hkg)
11/6, 11/3, 11/9 (29m)
[Q] Sarah Cardwell (Aus)
[4] Christina Mak
5/11, 11/6, 11/5, 11/7 (34m)
[8] Joelle King
[8] Joelle King (Nzl)
11/3, 11/7, 11/2 (21m)
Jenna Gates (Eng)
Kylie Lindsay (Nzl)
11/3, 11/3, 11/2 (16m)
[7] Annie Au (Hkg)
[7] Annie Au
11/5, 6/11, 11/6, 11/3 (30m)
[3] Donna Urquhart
[7] Annie Au

11/9, 12/10, 11/5 (28m)

[2] Jaclyn Hawkes

Adel Weir (Rsa)
11/9, 11/4, 11/4 (27m)
[3] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
[Q] Shin Nga Leung (Hkg)
11/9, 11/5, 11/5 (22m)
[6] Lisa Camilleri (Aus)
[6] Lisa Camilleri
11/5, 11/6, 11/2 (18m)
[2] Jaclyn Hawkes
[Q] Zoe Petranovsky (Aus)
11/5, 11/0, 11/4 (17m)
[2] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)


Qualifying:

30-Jul, Finals:


Sarah Cardwell (Aus) bt Jackie Laurenson (Nzl)        11/8, 8/11, 11/9, 11/9 (38m)
Zoe Petrovansky (Aus) bt Maggie Marshall (Aus)             11/4, 11/5, 12/10 (23m)
Melody Francis (Aus) bt Bonny Wu (Aus)                          11/4, 11/5, 11/5 (19m)
Shin Nga Leung (Hkg) bt Kimberley Bessell (Aus)     11/3, 11/9, 9/11, 11/7 (29m)

29-Jul, Round One:

Sarah Cardwell bt Paige Inia-McGarvey                          11/4, 11/7, 11/2 (13m)
Kimberley Bessell bt Alma Kushartanti                  15/13, 3/11, 11/9, 11/4 (27m)

Brown to play surprise
packet Au in final

Andrew Dent reports

Top seed Kasey Brown will take on surprise packet Annie Au of Hong Kong in the women’s final of the Clare Valley Australian Open squash championships after both recorded straight games wins in the semi-finals in Clare, South Australia on Saturday.

Brown beat New Zealander Joelle King 11-6, 11-9, 11-1 to move into her third consecutive final, while in the first semi-final the 19-year-old Au kept the upsets coming with an 11-9, 12-10, 11-5 win over second seeded Kiwi Jaclyn Hawkes.

Both matches followed similar patterns, with the winners taking tight first games, coming back from precarious positions in the second then running away with the third.

The seventh seeded Au played aggressively to down the more defensive-minded Hawkes in the first semi-final.

It was Au’s second major scalp of the tournament, following her quarter-final victory over third seeded Donna Urquhart.

Au is considered one of the brightest juniors to come out of Hong Kong in recent years. She was a member of the team that won the World Junior Women’s Teams’ Championships in 2006 and has already won two titles since turning professional in 2007.

She attacked against Hawkes from the start and was rewarded with a tight opening game. Hawkes came back immediately and took an early lead in the second, then had four game balls at 10-6, but Au refused to concede and she fought back superbly to take the second in a tiebreak.

The second seed’s head dropped and Au comfortably won the third to reach her first major final.She conceded the second game was crucial.

“I think if I didn’t win the second game the match would have been a lot tighter,” Au said. “When I was losing in the second game I just relaxed – I just tried to attack her because she is ranked higher than me and I had nothing to lose. I just tried to do my best and not think too much about the game.”

Brown also had to come back in the second game after King shot out to lead 6-0 and then 7-1.

Where many other players may have conceded the game, Brown dug deep and refused to give in, clawing her way back to claim it 11-9.

“With this scoring if you’re 7-1 down most people write the game off, but after the first game which I won comfortably I decided to dig in and get better length and hang on,” Brown said. “Fortunately I was able to scrape out that second one, which helped me mentally in the third.”

Brown, 23, and Au have never met, but the taller Australian said she was wary of the number of times Au brought both Hawkes and Urquhart forward in their matches.

Brown won the Australian Open in 2006 and was runner up to New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen in 2007.

If she wins on Sunday, she will become the first multiple winner since Sarah Fitz-Gerald won the last of her four titles in 2003.

Palmer stays on track ...

World number five David Palmer remained on track for his first ever Australian Open squash title when he beat Robbie Temple of England in straight games 11-4, 11-6, 11-4 in the semi-finals.

Palmer has won the British Open four times and the World Open twice but has never won his home title. The last time he played the event, in 2006, he finished runner-up to Stewart Boswell and he said earlier in the week he hadn’t come all the way from his base in Boston to finish second this year.

Palmer will play New Zealand’s Kashif Shuja in Sunday’s final following Shuja’s thrilling 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6 over fellow Kiwi Campbell Grayson.



The two New Zealanders left the court to a standing ovation after a see-sawing match which ended when Grayson, who was on court for 78 minutes on Friday, ran out of steam in the fifth game.

Palmer goes into the final as one of the hottest favourites imaginable. He only arrived in Australia on Tuesday and has played better and better as the tournament’s gone on.

Temple tried hard but couldn’t find an answer to the tall Australian’s shot making. “I’m pretty disappointed – I felt like I was trying too hard,” the 21-year-old Englishman said afterwards.

Palmer said he was satisfied with his play, but said he needed to lift against Shuja, a clever player who tries to take the pace off the ball. It wasn’t too bad,” he said.

“I’m probably not moving as well as I would like to, but I was fairly in control of the match. It’s important to create that three or four point lead and obviously I did that pretty well today.

“He was trying to attack a lot and made some winners, but obviously he missed a lot more than he made.”



Shuja earlier ended Grayson’s run, which started in qualifying on Tuesday and included the dispatching of sixth seed Ryan Cuskelly on Thursday and second seed Chris Ryder yesterday.

Shuja, the third seed, said he always knew he would be in for a tough match.

“I train with Campbell every day and I’ve played some really tough matches against him in the past,” he said. “We know each other’s game so it makes it extra hard.” The 29-year-old said he was looking forward to playing Palmer.

“What a great opportunity – playing David Palmer in the final of the Australian Open,” he said.
  


Palmer heads
back to NSW

01-Aug, Quarter-Finals:
Temple & Grayson
forge on in Australian Open

 

Top seed David Palmer now leads domestic interest in the Clare Valley Australian Open Championships exclusively after England's Robbie Temple and New Zealander Campbell Grayson continued their giant-killing ways in the men's $26,000 event in its second year at the Valleys Lifestyle Centre in Clare in South Australia.

 

Top seed Kasey Brown is also the only home player who survived the quarter-finals of the women's $16,000 event after the demise of three Australians.

 

Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson caused the biggest shock when he beat second seed Chris Ryder in a marathon quarter-final.  Grayson, who had to win two rounds of qualifying just to make the main draw, beat the Englishman 14-12, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9 to record a win he rated as the most important of his career.

 

He now plays fellow Kiwi Kashif Shuja in the semi-finals.  Third seed Shuja beat Australian Scott Arnold 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 - guaranteeing a New Zealand presence in the final of Australia’s most prestigious squash tournament.

 

The second men's semi-final will be between former world champion Palmer and English surprise packet Robbie Temple.  Palmer beat Pakistan’s Adil Maqbool 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 while Temple ousted fourth-seeded Australian Aaron Frankcomb 11-8, 11-6, 11-8.

 

Annie Au of Hong Kong and New Zealand’s Joelle King shocked their higher-ranked opponents in the women's quarter-finals.  Au upset third-seeded Australian Donna Urquhart 11-5, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, while King surprised fourth-seeded Christina Mak of Hong Kong 5-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7.

 

King, a 19-year-old from the town of Cambridge in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island, will play top-seeded Australian Kasey Brown.  Brown celebrated her 23rd birthday in style with a tough 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 win over fifth-seeded compatriot Amelia Pittock.

 

The two Australians know each other’s games well and it showed as they fought tenaciously for every point.

 

Annie Au will take on second seed Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand - an impressive 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 winner over Australia's Lisa Camilleri, the sixth seed.
   

31-Jul, Round One:
Brown begins campaign in style
Andrew Dent reports

Top seed Kasey Brown’s bid for a second Australian Open title got off to a good start when she beat Hong Kong’s Joey Chan 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 in the first round of the championships being played in the South Australian town of Clare on Thursday.



Brown, from Taree in New South Wales, won the Australian Open in 2006 and finished runner-up to New Zealander Shelley Kitchen in 2007.

She looked comfortable throughout her match against left-hander Chan, who at 68 in the world was a potentially tricky opponent.

She now goes on to a tougher assignment against fellow Australian Amelia Pittock, winner of her past two tournaments at the Melbourne and South Australian Opens. who beat Victorian qualifier Melody Francis 11-8, 11-6, 11-5.

"It was a bit scrappy so it was good to just get on there and get through the first round. Being left-handed she’s got a good forehand so I was a bit wary about it. I kept going to her backhand but I probably need to play a bit straighter.

"I'll have to lift my game against Amelia, she's in some good form at the moment so I’m a bit wary of that – I’ll just have to go out there tomorrow and give it my all."

Pittock became the first woman through to the quarter-finals with her win over Francis, whose next assignment is the World University Championships in Cairo. Pittock beat Francis to win the Melbourne Open two weeks ago but said she was a different player on Thursday.

Pittock has been training in New York and said that that work had paid off with her good recent results, but she conceded Brown was a step up in class from her recent opponents.

Second seeded Jaclyn Hawkes gave notice she would be a serious threat for the title when she beat Queensland qualifier Zoe Petrovansky 11-5, 11-0, 11-4.

Despite starting the match with a fault – for the first time in her career – Hawkes always looked in control against the 18-year-old from Brisbane.

“She played pretty well in the first game,” Hawkes said. “But then I think I started to get a better length than her and she started to make a few mistakes.

“I don’t know how many times she’s played on the glass court before (it was Petrovansky’s first time) but it’s quite a different experience. The first time you play on it it’s quite hard.”

Hawkes faces Lisa Camilleri in the quarter-finals following the Queenslander’s 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 win over Hong Kong qualifier Shin Nga Leung.

Leung’s compatriot, Christine Mak, had too much experience for Victorian junior Sarah Cardwell, winning in straight games 11-6, 11-3, 11-9. The fourth seeded Mak said she was wary before the game because Cardwell is coached by her mother, Vicki, a former world champion.

“She’s a good player and I know her mum told her how to play against me,” Mak said. The Hong Kong-based Mak controlled the match and moved her younger opponent all over the court. “I know she’s fast, but I think because I’m older and I’ve played the tour for a long time, I had too much experience for her.”

Mak now plays New Zealander Joelle King, who used a mix of blistering power and deft shot making to defeat Englishwoman Jenna Gates 11-3, 11-7, 11-2.

New South Wales’s Donna Urquhart celebrated making the world’s top 30 with a straight games win over South African Adel Weir. After winning a tight first game, Urquhart eased away to an 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 victory.

The 21-year-old Urquhart, who found out Thursday she had reached a career-high 29 in the world, plays Annie Au from Hong Kong, an 11-3, 11-3, 11-2 winner over New Zealand’s Kylie Lindsay.

Palmer shows his class

World number five David Palmer showed he meant business when he dispatched New Zealander Martin Knight in the opening round. Boston-based Palmer only arrived in Clare on Thursday afternoon and was tested by the New Zealander before winning 11-9, 11-5, 11-7.

The four time British Open and twice World Open champion has never won the Australian Open and said he was determined to get his name on the famous trophy this year.

He will play Pakistan’s Adil Maqbool in the quarter-finals after the eighth seed stylishly ended Zac Alexander’s tournament with an 11-9, 11-6, 12-10 win.

Fourth seed Aaron Frankcomb ended qualifier Justin Beard’s giant-killing run when he beat the young South Australian in straight games 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 to set up a quarter-final against England’s Robbie Temple, who earlier caused the first upset of the tournament when he ousted seventh seeded Queenslander Brad Hindle 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5.

Beard had upset two higher ranked players in the qualifying tournament but admitted Frankcomb was a step up. “It was a lot tougher than I’m used to,” Beard said. “Every time I hit the ball up the middle of the court he put it away. “Technically I’ve got a lot to learn from that.”

Frankcomb said he was confident heading into the next round.
“I was pretty happy to get away with a 3/0 win,” he said. “I thought I was hitting the ball okay – there’s a few things I can work on for later on but all in all I’m quite happy.”

Hindle had looked in control when he took the first game 11-7 against Temple, but the Englishman found a good length and went on the attack with immediate effect.

“Brad started well, his length was a lot better than mine in the first game but after that it was much better,” he said. “There were patches where I lost it but I gradually got on top of him by attacking short, which is what I like to do.”

Second seeded Englishman Chris Ryder also looked impressive as he beat wildcard Matthew Karwalski 11-9, 11-9, 11-7. Ryder said he knew Karwalski would attack from the word go so he tried to be more patient than his young opponent.
 
New Zealand qualifier Campbell Grayson caused the second upset when he beat sixth seed Ryan Cuskelly in three hotly contested games 11-6, 11-9, 13-11. Grayson was more consistent than his higher ranked opponent and kept his composure in the second and third games as Cuskelly began to argue with the officials.

“I think it helped me because I was able to concentrate on what I was doing, and I realised he was getting rattled,” Grayson said.

Sydney’s Scott Arnold was the first player through to the quarter-finals when he edged Queensland’s Steve Finitsis in three tight games 11-9, 11-9, 11-9. Arnold and Finitsis demonstrated how tight the Open is this year during their match and Arnold acknowledged there are no easy matches this year.
“It’s first round but I’ve played Steve enough times to know I’m never going to get off quickly,” Arnold said.

“He’s always going to hit some amazing shots – you’ve just got to hope he’s having one of those days when he’s missing them more than he’s getting them.”

Arnold said he had been putting in some quality training at the AIS in Brisbane over the past few months and that had helped him close the crucial points out.

“You can’t put in all that work and not feel confident,” he said. “I’ve been working with the sports psychologist back In Brisbane and he’s helped me on the big points.”

Earlier New Zealand’s third seeded Kashif Shuja defeated an in-form Mike Corren 11-7, 3-11, 11-8, 14-12 in a high quality first round match.

“The glass court rewards squash rather than just fitness, which is why it was such a good match” he said. “I was glad to get through actually – it shows you that in the first round the matches are going to be tight. It shows you the depth of competition this year.”

   

"Melody played a lot better today than she did in Melbourne so I was really happy to get away with the first game.

"I didn’t want to give her any confidence. You give these young players confidence and you can suddenly find yourself at 2/2 and in a real battle.

"I just wanted to get on there and get the job done."

"I wouldn’t have come this far if I didn’t intend to win it.

"I’ve gone close a few times and had match points, but never seemed to finish it off.

"It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t win, but it would be good to get my name on the trophy this year."

30-Jul, Qualifying Finals:
Beard's run continues in Clare
Andrew Dent reports

Adelaide’s Justin Beard continued his giant-killing run when he beat Max Lee of Hong Kong to move into the main draw of the Australian Open squash championships in Clare, South Australia on Wednesday.

Beard, who at 224 is more than 100 places below Lee on the world rankings, outplayed his opponent in the closing stages of a tight match to win 4-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7, 11-7 and make the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time.

21-year-old Beard, who rated his qualifying win as the best of his career, has drawn fourth seeded Aaron Frankcomb in the first round.

Rising Queensland star Zac Alexander caused the day’s other upset when he beat another Hong Kong player, Dick Lau.
Alexander lost the first game but came back to win 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9.

He drew eighth seeded Pakistani Adil Maqbool and has a great chance of a possible quarter-final against top seed and world number five David Palmer.

"I felt pretty good – a lot better than Dick did I think. I didn’t feel too bad physically, keeping it together mentally was the hardest part. It was really tight though.

"I have a problem with guys I haven’t played before and the first game’s a little bit iffy for me. But once I got used to the lights and the ball I started to get my confidence back."

Palmer’s first round opponent will be New Zealander Martin Knight, who scored an impressive 11-5, 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 win over Melbourne’s Steve Robinson. Knight always looked in control apart from a lapse in the second game.

“I was moving alright today which for me is the key,” he said.
“My form’s been pretty good lately, I’ve won my first two PSA tournaments and my ranking’s gone up.”

He has played Palmer once before, in Germany four months ago where he lost in straight games, but said he was looking forward to the challenge. “I’ll just go out and give it my best and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

The final qualifier was New Zealander Campbell Grayson, who beat fellow Kiwi Joshua Greenfield 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10.
“It was very tough – Joshua’s a fellow Kiwi so it’s always tough,” he said. “Last time we played it was a marathon so I knew it would be close today.”

Grayson drew New South Welshman Ryan Cuskelly in the first round and said he thought he had a good chance of moving through the draw.

Cardwell fights way to main draw

Seventeen-year-old Sarah Cardwell made the main draw of the Australian Open squash championships when she surprised top qualifying seed Jackie Laurenson of New Zealand.

Cardwell, the daughter of former Australian great Vicki, slugged it out with Laurenson before winning 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9.
Her reward for qualifying is a first round clash with fourth seed Christine Mak of Hong Kong on the all glass court.

“It’s my most important win. To qualify for the main draw was pretty much my main goal for the tournament, so I’m pretty happy with it.

"I’ve had a hit on the glass court before, but this will be my first match ever on an all glass court. I don’t know whether it suits me or not, but it will be interesting to find out ..."

Cardwell was joined in the main draw by Hong Kong’s Shin Nga Leung, Queenslander Zoe Petrovansky and Melbourne’s Melody Francis.

Petrovansky ousted AIS training partner Melody Marshall in three games 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 and said she found it hard to play against someone she knows so well.

Francis will fly to Egypt in August to represent Australia in the World University Squash Championships and she said this tournament was good preparation for that event. She beat Adelaide’s Bonny Wu 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 and will play fellow Victorian Amelia Pittock in the first round.

"Bonny’s pretty tough – I was actually pretty apprehensive about playing her. I was happy to get away with winning in three.

"Hopefully I’ll be nice and fresh for tomorrow. You don’t often get the chance to play people at that level very often so you’ve got to take those opportunities when you get them."

Shin outlasted the power hitting of Australian junior champion Kimberley Bessell but said she was struggling to adapt to the new scoring being used in the women’s game, where the games go to 11 with points won whether serving or receiving.
She now takes on Queensland’s Lisa Camilleri in the first round.
 

Brown targets second title
Manning River Times

TAREE’S Kasey Brown is fit and determined to regain the Australian open ...



"It was completely unexpected. The first game he just dominated me and I was running all over the place, but I slowly got into it. I wasn’t getting any length on the ball and he took full advantage."

"I felt like if it had gone a bit longer, like to five games, I might have struggled a bit.

"I’m pretty happy with it – it’s the first time I’ve played the Australian Open and I’ve done pretty well so far.

"Joining the AIS has definitely made a difference – just the amount of training you put in. I was never able to do that much training before."

 
30-Jul, Qualifying Finals:

Beard causes
Clare surprise ...

Andrew Dent reports

South Australia’s Justin Beard caused the only surprise on the opening day of qualifying for the Australian Open squash championships in the South Australian town of Clare when he beat eighth seed Joseph Desira in straight games on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old from Adelaide won 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 on a day when the other seeded players all progressed relatively smoothly.

It was Beard’s first time on the all glass court and he said he was almost overwhelmed by the experience. “I was a bit taken aback by all the lights and colour,” he said. “But I got into it midway through the first game and after that it was just like playing on a normal court.”

Beard now plays Hong Kong’s Max Lee for one of four places left in the main draw.

“I’ve seen him a few times and he looks pretty good – I’ve no idea how I’ll play him,” Beard said. “I’ll just get on the court and have a bash.”

Top seed in qualifying, Hong Kong’s Dick Lau, was taken to four games by in-form South African Carl Hampson before prevailing 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-7.

He will now play up and coming Queenslander Zac Alexander for a place in the main draw following Alexander’s comfortable 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 win over New South Welshman Nathan Kam.

“It wasn’t too bad, especially because I could get used to the glass court,” Alexander said of the win over a player he has met many times in the junior ranks.

He is yet to meet Lau.

“But I’ve seen him play a few times and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “I have to be confident because he hits the ball really well and plays quite fast.”

Victorian Steve Robinson and Martin Knight of New Zealand both cruised past their opponents.

Seventh seeded Robinson beat New South Welshman Brent Dunkley 11-5, 11-5, 11-1 and Knight, the fourth seed, was too strong for Queenslander Nathan Stevenson 11-5, 11-3, 11-6.

“I was feeling alright out there --- I think he was a bit nervous to start with and was hitting the ball short, which allowed me to get in front and get my momentum going.” Knight said.

Hong Kong’s Max Lee also had a straight games win, over Josh Cardwell of Victoria, 11-2, 11-9, 11-2 and said he was happy with his form.

“But in the second game I lost a bit of concentration and let him back into it,” Lee said. “His forehand is much stronger than his backhand so I put more effort into his backhand, and that worked.”

Campbell Grayson beat Hong Kong’s Anson Kwong and will meet fellow Kiwi Joshua Greenfield in the next round.

In the women’s qualifying, Victoria’s Sarah Cardwell defeated an out of sorts Paige Inia-McGarvey 11-4, 11-7, 11-2 and will now play top seed Jackie Laurenson for a place in the main draw.

Australian junior champion Kimberley Bessell fought off a strong challenge from South Australian Alma Kushartanti, while Adelaide’s Bonny Wu was handed a place in the second qualifying round when her opponent, Pakistan’s Nadia Aziz, failed to show.
 

Brown targets second title
Manning River Times

TAREE’S Kasey Brown is fit and determined to regain the Australian open ...

29-Jul, Qualifying Round One:
Open dream continues for four players

The Australian Open dream continued for four squash players after the completion of pre-qualifying in Adelaide on Monday.

Toowoomba’s Luke Forster, fellow Queenslander Nathan Stevenson, Nathan Kam from New South Wales and Adelaide’s Brent Dunkley all won their pre-qualifying matches and now move forward to the main qualifying tournament beginning in Clare on Tuesday.   Pre-qualifying results


Four players from each of the men’s and women’s qualifying tournaments then progress to the main draw, which gets underway at the Valleys Lifestyle Centre on Thursday.

15-Jul-08:
Clare buzzing ahead of
Australian Open

Preview from Andrew Dent

The wine growing town of Clare in South Australia is a hive of activity this week as it prepares to welcome some of the world’s best squash players for the Clare Valley Australian Open later this month.

This year’s Open, from July 28-August 3, is shaping as one of the best in years, with a large men’s field headed by four-time British Open champion David Palmer and the women’s draw featuring top 20 players Kasey Brown of Taree in New South Wales and New Zealander Jaclyn Hawkes.

Australian Open spokesman Grant Norman said a team of workers and volunteers was putting the final touches to the all-glass court in the town’s indoor stadium, while another team would be erecting the seating later this week.

“We’ll be ready for our first lead-in tournament (the South Australian Country Championships) starting Friday,” he said.

This year’s Open has attracted a far larger field than the 2007 event, which was the first time in history the Australian Open was held outside a capital city.

The women’s draw has a full 12-person qualifying field, while such is the interest in the men’s event that organisers have been forced to organise pre-qualifying in Adelaide for four places in the main qualifying tournament in Clare. Four players from each qualifying event will progress to the main draw.

Norman said the Australian Open would benefit the town of Clare economically, with motels already heavily booked for the duration of the tournament.

“The town has really got behind the Australian Open again this year,” Norman said.

“We’ve got a group of volunteers ready to go into the schools next week to organise player visits, which were really popular last year. We’ve also organised for the school classes to come down during the day to watch the matches.”

Norman said the South Australian Government had given organisers some funding for local promotional activity, while the Clare and Gilbert Valley Shire Council had also given the tournament the use of the Valleys Lifestyle Centre as a venue, as well as a substantial cash grant.

But he said the most lasting benefit was the upsurge of interest in squash in Clare, which experienced a surge after last year’s tournament and which now has 49 juniors in its program.

“We noticed more people playing after last year’s tournament and our junior program is now the equal of anything in Adelaide,” Norman said.


All about Clare Valley


 

04-Jul-08:
Palmer aims
to end Aussie Anomaly

Preview from Andrew Dent

David Palmer will try to end one of the great anomalies of Australian squash later this month when he heads to the South Australian wine making centre of Clare for the Australian Open.

Palmer has won four British Opens and two World Opens in an illustrious career that has already seen him labelled as one of the sport’s all time greats.

But strangely the 32-year-old from Lithgow in New South Wales has never won an Australian Open.

He said getting his name on the trophy alongside players such as Geoff Hunt, Chris Dittmar, Rodney Eyles and Rod and Brett Martin was the prime reason for returning home from his base in the US city of Boston.

The Australian Open will be played on an all-glass court in Clare from July 29-August 3.

Palmer has been seeded number one in the men’s draw, while former champion Kasey Brown is the women’s top seed.

“Clare hosted the championships for the first time last year and did an outstanding job,” Squash Australia chief executive officer Gary O’Donnell said. “The glass court was set up in the town’s newly developed sports stadium and the people really embraced the tournament.”

The 2008 field boasts a large international contingent, with Australian players being joined by those from New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Pakistan, India, England, Ireland and Wales.

“It’s pleasing to see so many international players coming out this year,” said tournament organiser Des Panizza. “The field is stronger than last year and features a host of top class players in the main draw, and also in qualifying.

“It really shows to us that the Australian Open is on the way up in terms of the overall quality of players it attracts.”

While Palmer is the obvious favourite in the men’s draw in the absence of defending champion Stewart Boswell, his challengers are all evenly matched.

England’s Chris Ryder is the likely second seed ahead of New Zealander Kashif Shuja and Hobart’s Aaron Frankcomb.
Hot on their heels will be New South Wales pair Scott Arnold and Ryan Cuskelly and Queenslander Bradley Hindle, while Pakistan’s Adil Maqbool should round out the seedings.
Dangerous floaters in the draw will be resurgent Queenslander Steve Finitsis and Englishman Robbie Temple, while Hong Kong’s Dick Lau could cause havoc if he wins his way through qualifying.

The women’s draw is wide open, with Brown certain to face stiff competition from second seeded Kiwi Jaclyn Hawkes, only five places below the Australian on the world rankings.

Rising Australian star Donna Urquhart is the third seed with Hong Kong’s Christina Mak rounding out the top four.
The rest of the seedings are Victoria’s Amelia Pittock (4), Queenslander Lisa Camilleri (6), Annie Au of Hong Kong (7), and Kiwi Joelle King (8).

There will also be a new women’s champion in 2008 with New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen committed to a tournament in Singapore and unable to defend her title.

Brown, who won in 2006 and was runner-up to Kitchen last year, said she was hoping to become the first multiple winner of the Australian Open since Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who won the last of her four titles in 2002.

“I’m not taking anything for granted,” the 22-year-old from Taree in New South Wales said. “There are a lot of girls in the field who are a similar standard, so anyone could win it.

“There are also a lot of players coming who are now starting to make their mark on the professional game after good junior careers. Hopefully I’ll have a bit too much experience for them and I can win my second title.”

The UK-based Brown has already won twice on the professional tour this year, taking the Atwater Cup in Canada in March and the Crocodile Challenge Cup in Hong Kong last month. She also took out the Australian Closed Championship in June, beating Urquhart in the final.

 

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