The 2019 Bay of Plenty Open has concluded with a pair of hard-fought finals at the Devoy Squash & Fitness Centre in Tauranga over the weekend. The event was sponsored by local business Pak n Save Tauriko, and attracted 160 players of all levels from across the country. With a total prize pool of $7000 as well as sought-after PSA points up for grabs, the open divisions included an incredible 26 A grade players.
In the Women’s final it came down to the top two seeded players. Anika Jackson from Hamilton was recently named in the NZ Junior Girls team to head off to the World Juniors in Malaysia in July. She has a current junior world ranking of 23 and senior world ranking of 163. Her opponent was Emma Millar, who is ranked 148 in the senior world rankings and the top seed for this event. Both players traded blows in the early stages with Emma claiming the first game 13-11. The second game looked like it was going the same way with a tight start as players shared the points in the first half of the game. Emma then switched a gear and the more experienced player never looked back, clinching the next two games and the title. Millar loves coming to Tauranga and is a regular entrant in the BOP Open. “I trained out of this club for a couple of years, so it kinda feels like I am coming home when I play here” said Emma in her victory speech.
The top two seeds also progressed to the mens final. Connor Sheen from Liverpool in England was the second seed and fought through a very strong draw to claim his spot in the big dance. World ranked 217, Connor had to fight off Auckland clubmate Lwamba Chileshe in the semi final to earn the right to face Wellington’s Evan Williams. Williams has 5 PSA titles to his name and is currently 102 in the world rankings. The three-time champion at this event was primed to make it a fourth, and it was all going his way early when he jumped out to a 2-0 lead, 11-7, 11-8. Sheen had other ideas though, as he steeled himself and perhaps Evans concentration lapsed as the Englishman took the 3rd 11-9. The more experienced Williams has been in plenty of finals over the years and it was that experience that helped him finish stronger to take the 4th game and the BOP Open title for 2019.
The tournament has been hailed as a success with the atmosphere buzzing at the club all weekend. Club players at all levels and ages get an amazing opportunity to compete alongside top players.
Pak n Save Bay of Plenty Open 2019 Results:
Emma Millar (Hamilton) beat Anika Jackson (Hamilton) 13-11, 11-5, 11-6
Evan Williams (Wellington) beat Connor Sheen (England) 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6