International players head to Invercargill
Squash players from all over the world will compete in an international event in Invercargill next week.
Squash City is hosting the New Zealand Southern PSA Open. It will be the third Professional Squash Association (PSA) world tour event in the country this month.
Martin Knight is the highest ranked New Zealander attending next week's open, which is a men's knock out competition. Knight, ranked No 2 in New Zealand, is second seed for the open behind Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (33rd in the world).
Twelve players, including Kiwi wildcard Lance Beddoes, are confirmed and they will be joined by another four from qualifying rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday. Total prizemoney is $15,000.
Players knocked out early have the opportunity to compete in the South Island champs, also hosted by Squash City next week. The champs' matches will be held at either Squash City or Stadium Southland.
Having international players at a world-ranked event in Invercargill was a huge boost for Southland squash, Open organisers Simon Flett and Grant Smail said.
"It's been a 12-month project," Flett said. "It's classy and very exciting."
The idea of hosting a PSA event in Invercargill was floated by player Knight at the South Island champs two years ago.
Squash City, with help from Squash New Zealand, was added to the PSA's world tour venues' list 12 months ago. The Invercargill club will host three annual PSA events.
Smail went to a PSA event in Palmerston North last year to get an insight into how it was run. Knight won this year's PSA event in Palmerston North on Sunday, but is not competing at the Christchurch edition this week.
Squash City, Invercargill Licensing Trust and Community Trust of Southland each put up $5000 to secure the Southern PSA Open for Southland fans.
Flett and Smail said without the funding, the open would not have gone ahead.
Free livestreaming of all Open matches next week will be available on the internet: http://new.livestream.com/NBLlivestreaming/events/3072393
Meanwhile, multiple world champion squash player Geoff Hunt will be at the Open. The retired star is the coach of the open's seventh seed, Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, of Qatar. email@example.com
- The Southland Times