Kashif Shuja defends title with walkover in final

TONY BIRD
Last updated 05:00 15/07/2014
FULL SWING: Palmerston North’s Rebecca Barnett returns a shot on her way to beating Danielle Fourie,  left, in a close women’s open final of the Squash Central Open at the Kawaroa courts in New Plymouth on Sunday.
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ
FULL SWING: Palmerston North’s Rebecca Barnett returns a shot on her way to beating Danielle Fourie, left, in a close women’s open final of the Squash Central Open at the Kawaroa courts in New Plymouth on Sunday.

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Manawatu-based professional Kashif Shuja successfully defended his Squash Central men's title at New Plymouth's Kawaroa courts in New Plymouth on Sunday without playing a shot in the final.

Shuja, ranked No 4 in New Zealand, won the title with ease, brushing aside his three opponents without dropping a set. He won the final in a walkover default after the other finalist, Waikato University student and nationally ranked No 9 Zac Miller, pulled out with a calf injury.

Earlier Shuja easily defeated Palmerston North's Ben Calvert in his semifinal, while Miller was pushed to the limit by Whanganui's national Masters rep Rod Bannister, winning an hour-long battle in five sets but sustaining a leg injury in the process.

Bannister finished the tournament in third place beating Calvert in four sets in the third versus fourth playoff.

The women's title was much closer with Palmerston North team-mates and national junior reps Rebecca Barnett beating Danielle Fourie in four sets - 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4.

Earlier Barnett beat Kaitlyn Watts in three sets in one semifinal, while Fourie beat Central team-mate Taihape's Jacke Tapp.

Tapp, the third seed and a newly promoted A grader, won the third versus fourth playoff, beating Watts in five sets.

A total of 130 players competed in the Jane's Gallery-sponsored event at the weekend which doubled as the Taranaki Open and was a closed satellite PSA world tour event, where PSA ranked men's players gained tour ranking points towards their world ranking.

Taranaki players had success in both division one draws. Kawaroa Park's Michelle Habib and Nick Stretton won their respective finals.

Plate winners in the open included Corbin Faint who won the special plate (5th place). Faint, a 14-year-old old B grader from Palmerston North, looks to have a promising future as he defeated two A graders.

The plate went to Faint's clubmate Brandon Keenan (10th place), while New Plymouth's Harald Askevold won the consolation plate (12th place).

Squash Central spokesman Grant Smith said that, after a successful hosting this year, the Kawaroa Park club will also host the 2015 Central Open.

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