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New Zealand Squash Championships: Day One

It was an action packed first day of competition at the New Zealand Squash Championships with more than 50 matches played at the Devoy Squash and Fitness Centre in Tauranga.

International star Paul Coll (world #5) breezed through his first matches to qualify for tomorrow's quarterfinals.

Coll beat youngster Flynn Venmore 11-1, 11-4, 11-2 in his first match before notching up another comfortable victory against Keidah Bungard 11-2, 11-4, 11-3. Coll will meet Mason Smales in his quarterfinal tomorrow. 

For 17-year-old Venmore, it was the match of a lifetime getting to take on his idol Coll.

“It was pretty special, he’s all class and was definitely just cruising while I was really puffing,” said Venmore. 

“He was giving me tips as we played which was really cool.”

Coll didn’t take it easy on Venmore and says the teenager has a great future in squash. 

“He’s a good player and he stuck in there well, he really wanted to learn and we had a good chat afterwards which I really enjoyed,” said Coll.

Nine-time national champion Joelle King had a bye first round before meeting Maiden-Lee Coe where she took a comfortable 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 win in the round of 16. 

“It was good to blow the cobwebs out, I haven’t moved since I got home a few days ago so I’m definitely going to need to stretch tonight,” said King.

“She was a good opponent, she played some great shots and I really enjoyed that match.”

King will play ninth seed Anne Leaky in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

2014 and 2016 National Champion Megan Graham also advances to the quarterfinals in her first New Zealand Championships since starting a family and rupturing her achilles. Graham’s experience and precision proving the difference as she beat Lily Rae in the round of sixteen, 3-11, 5-11, 11-9, 5-11.

“It’s really nice to see everyone and get back on court, I was a little nervous but it’s good to get that first win under the belt,” said Graham.

Apa Fatialofa won one of the closer games in his first match, the 18th seed beating 15th seed Allan Bailey, 4-11, 11-4, 8-11, 4-11. Fatialofa gave it his all in a hotly contested match against second seed Lwamba Chileshe in the round of 16 but Chileshe pulled through 11-13, 8-11, 11-13.

Temwa Chileshe also advanced to the quarterfinals. The 22-year-old kept his cool in his first match against Matthew Ward who looked threatening early. Temwa controlled the pace of the game, executing some beautiful drop shots to win the match 11-7, 11-8, 11-2. 

The match of the day was between Matthew Ward (seeded 30) and Paul Moran (seeded 14) as they played off in the 17th-32nd place category. Moran won the first two games 13-11, 11-6, before Ward took the next two 9-11, 9-11. In the final game Ward’s fitness and composure saw him home, 11-4.

“That was brutal, the bottom of my feet are absolutely burning right now. It was great to get that win and jeeze it was a battle,” said Ward.

The New Zealand Squash Championships quarterfinals will be contested tomorrow morning (1/7/23) with semifinals to follow in the afternoon. The full draw and schedule is available here and the event programme is available here. Athletes will be available for in person and remote media in between matches all weekend.

The glass court matches will be livestreamed all weekend at this link: New Zealand Squash Championships – Digital Vision Live. Please note, you will need to free subscribe to the Squash NZ TV Channel if you haven’t already. 

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