King, queen of the court at NZ Open, Coll falls to ElShorbagy

Joelle King and Mohammed el Shorbagy have won the New Zealand Squash Open to give the home crowd half of the fairytale ending they wanted.

Waikato’s King ran out a relatively comfortable winner in straight games, 11-4, 11-6 11-5 to improve her head-to-head against Evans to 5-3. King showed the greater composure on the big points, having the edge in tour finals experience.

“She’s fun, she can make jokes and can switch in and out but I’m the opposite.  I have to stay in my zone and avoid laughing when she makes jokes on court.  

King, 34, from Cambridge but based in Bristol, England, was emotional to lift the Murphy Rosebowl on which her name will be etched alongside illustrious squash greats in Vicki Cardwell, Michelle Martin and eight-time winner, Susan Devoy. 

Speaking of her opponent, King reflected, “We’ve been through some tough times, it’s a lonely sport, so when you find someone you get along with, you stay tight.  We’re in each other’s corner and I’m very happy to come off the winner today.”

“It was a tournament I’ve been waiting for so long to play in front on my fans and family who haven’t seen me play since I was a little girl,” said King.

Meanwhile Evans gave some humour to her loss.

“I had 500 people on court against me.  It was really fun, it’s been a great week so thanks to everyone who made this possible.  To play this week in front a crowd like this was really special.  Joey is such a legend, not only an amazing player but an amazing person who has helped me so much, so I need to thank her, although maybe not for the beating today.”

The men’s final was at times brutal as two of the world’s best went at it for the title. 

Coll, 30, from Greymouth who has had two stints heading the world rankings this year faced formidable opposition from the multiple title winning Mohamed El Shorbagy, seeded second and ranked four in the world.  

El Shorbagy used all his experience to put on an impressive display of attacking squash to win in four games, although Coll made him work hard for his points, displaying attacking flair and incredible reach.

The raucous crowd sensed it was in the Kiwi’s grasp after a sensational rally at 7-9 in the first game lasting several minutes to take it to 8-9 after which El Shorbagy’s concentration was lost and the game went Coll’s way on the first time of asking.

El Shorbagy, however, played a more disruptive game in the next three stanzas, often  finding the nick, and doing just enough in each to protect the leads he had crafted for a 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 victory in 62 minutes. He became the first British player to lift the Bruce Brownlee trophy on his 500th Professional Squash Association match.

“Paul is one of the most inspiring players on tour, he’s a big champ, he’s won two golds for his country and deserves all the respect he gets.  It’s an honour for me every time I go on court with him.

“I have two great superstars in Joelle and Paul standing behind me.  Paul is a great rival and we have had great matches over the years and as good rivals we don’t get to win every time.  I might win sometimes, he might win sometimes.  The crowd support has been amazing, you’ve given the players such great memories and I will be back next year,” said ElShorbagy.

Commonwealth Games singles and mixed champion, Coll was disappointed with his loss, but could see some positives in the sport returning to New Zealand.

“It’s not my moment but I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, everyone who made this happen…Getting squash back to New Zealand is amazing.  It’s not how I wanted the two weeks to go but I want to thank all my family and everyone who came to support me.

The players now fly within 24 hours to the PSA Gold tournament in Singapore this week.


Barfoot and Thomson New Zealand Open (1) Joelle King (NZL) beat (6) Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-4, 11-6, 11-5, 

Robertson Lodges New Zealand Open (2) Mohammed el Shorbagy (ENG) beat (1) Paul Coll (NZL) 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7,  62 minutes