Palmerston North player Kashif Shuja continued his dominance in the region winning The Dentist and Doyle & Associates 2018 Wanganui Squash Open at the weekend.
Hosted by the Whanganui Squash Club, the competition attracted huge numbers springing club members into action to ensure things ran smoothly.
Players travelled from far and wide and the club had a huge 120 entries to contend with. Working with its neighbour, the Rivercity Squash Club which helped out with some matches on the Saturday, it certainly has been the best tournament in a few years for the club, orgainser Paula Darlingrton said.
This year the Men's Open title went to SquashGym's Kashif Shuja, the top seed. Shuja, who is a five-time New Zealand champion, 2017 World Master winner in the 35-39 age group and still ranked No 10 in New Zealand senior ranks, wasn't troubled as he beat all his rivals in three sets.
The original six draw had changed to a four after former Commonwealth medallist Tamsyn Leevey (KP) had to pull out with work commitments and also local player Matt Ratcliffe through injury.
This ensured it would be a tough weekend for Whanganui club member Kent Darlington who was seeded second, Masterton's Malcolm Wyeth third and SquashGym's Allan Bailey fourth in a round robin format.
The first round went the way of seeding's with Shuja beating Bailey 11/2, 11/8, 11/6 and Darlington winning against Wyeth 14/12, 13/11, 11/4. In Saturday's second round Shuja continued in the same form beating Wyeth 11/5, 11/2, 11/4 while the in-form Bailey pulled off the upset of the round by beating Darlington.
Bailey, who has been playing a lot of the local tournaments and needed a couple more wins heading into this tournament to propel him up into A grade, took his chance when it arose. After being down 2-1 in sets he came back to win in five 11/8, 6/11, 2/11, 11/6, 11/5.
Into the final round Shuja clinched the title by beating Darlington 11/9, 11/9, 11/8 to secure another win for this season's trophy, while Bailey beat Wyeth 11/7, 14/12, 11/6 to secure the runner-up spot and move up into the A grade ranks for the first time.
The Women's top draw this year was Div 1 which was a six draw of B Grade ladies from all around the district.
Whanganui player Ngakuria Osborne and top seed won the title from Red Star's Jannah Wyeth with New Plymouth's Michelle Habib winning the plate.
Men's Div 1 had a number of big matches throughout the draw and it was two Central junior reps playing off in the final where Jordan Bell (PN) who was the first seed defeated the second seed Dylan Budge of Ohakune 11/9, 5/11, 11/4, 11/4. Bell also received the Peter Vine Memorial Trophy which goes to the winner of the B Grade draw.
Vine, a tough B Grader in his day was a treasured member who passed away 10 years ago and his trophy is presented every year in memory of him.
One player also to stand out for her effort and form was Holly Shuja (PN). As the only A Grade women in the event she decided to play in the Men's Division One for the weekend and certainly pushed the guys hard. She lost her first match in five, won her second 11/9 in the fifth and lost narrowly in four sets to the eventual Plate winner Bryce McKenzie (Rivercity) 11/9, 11/5, 4/11 11/7 showing spectators some unbelievable court craft and skill.
Another draw that had a strong Whanganui flavour to it and it's starting to grow momentum through the Whanganui Squash Club was the Junior J Grade. Of the eight competitors, seven were from Whanganui. J Grade allows young kids get into the sport and onto the grading list and playing tournaments like the Whanganui Open or the local districts Prince One Day Series.
They start off at J4, go through to J1 and then move straight into E grade, which at this stage they are ready to take on the adults.
Some great battles occurred and it was the top seed Thor Darlington (WG) who beat the third seed Aria Bannister (WG) in the final.
Special Plate went to Maximus Matthew (WG), the Plate was won by Mac O'Connor (WG) and Consolation Plate by Zoe Rapson (Rivercity).