It’s two from two from the semifinals for Kiwi players

It’s two from two from the semifinals for Kiwi players, Joelle King and Paul Coll as they both reached the final of the New Zealand Open with the support of 1,000 enthusiastic fans at the Trustpower Arena in Tauranga.

King will play Tesni Evans from Wales for the Murphy Rose Bowl, while Coll is in the dream final against Mohamed ElShorbagy for the Bruce Brownlee Trophy in what is the first co-sanctioned PSA tournament in New Zealand since 1993. 


King booked her place in the final with an emphatic win over the Belgian fifth seed Tinne Gilis from Belgium, to continue her unbeaten run on this state-of-the-art glass court.  


The fired-up Waikato player  tarted strong  and didn’t let up taking the first game 11-5. 


The second game produced the same scoreline in King’s favour, with the world No 5 showing superior spatial awareness.  


Both players strove for more consistent length in the third and this caused traffic issues at times, producing a dramatic dual player collision mid-game.   Towards the end of the third game, King was rewarded for her patient play by forcing loose shots from which she was able to create winners or force Gilis into errors.  


King was delighted to take the match in straight games, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 in 36 minutes, great preparation for her final against good friend Evans.


“It’s a small tour; at these sized events, we tend to play all the same people.  I’m a student of the game, I watch all the matches. even if I’m not at the event, to see who’s improving, who’s doing what.  Tesni has been playing phenomenally in the last couple of months so it’s going to be a tough match for sure.  The final is a new day, a new tournament really, so they’ll be bringing their best and I’ll be bringing my best,” said King.


Meanwhile, Evans ranked 14th took on Nele Gilis and after a battle dropped the first set 8-11, but forced her way back into it with her trademark shotmaking to take the match in three games to one, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5 11-3 in 52 minutes.  


“I’m a slow burner, I get better as I play more matches and last year I didn’t play that many so I got worse!  So It’s really nice to get to play one more match; it’s very special.  Joelle is literally my best friend and it’s always special to be in New Zealand.  I’ll try to win this but, win or lose tomorrow, that’s OK with me,” said Evans. 


Their head-to-head record favours King 4-3.  However they haven’t played in Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments since 2019.


The crowd continued its raucous support for Greymouth’s Coll against Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd al Tamimi.  Al Tamimi, the victor against Coll in Qatar in September, once more brought his sublime racquet skills to the proceedings.  Coll, however, was not to be outdone by the underdog on the bounce, and brought his reknowned athleticism to the fore in a flawless display of determination under pressure. 


“I have a gameplan for every opponent but there’s always something that can disrupt your play, so I had to reset every rally.  There was no flow in the match, he’s got some outrageous feel, so if you go wandering [mentally] you can lose some very quick points.  I was very happy with that today.  I felt good, felt sharp, the best I’ve felt in a while,” said 30-year-old Coll.


“His deception is what makes him so hard.  He kept peppering me with the bloody boast then a volley drop and I was wondering what the hell was going on here.   Luckily I warmed up well, but it’s more mentally you’ve got to be sharp for that.  It was a tough one and I thought I was very good today.”


Coll now faces long-time rival Mohamed ElShorbagy who has won the majority of their 16 matches; however in the past year they are 2-2 in PSA events. 


ElShorbagy defeated French third seed  Victor Crouin 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 in 40 minutes in a comprehensive effort which saw the former world No 1 keep the tenth ranked Crouin, 23, guessing at times. 


“It’s my duty to make it tough for these guys when they challenge me.  When I beat the next generation for the first time I don’t want them to have it easy, they need to do it the hard way.  I don’t want my name to be in the draw to make up the numbers, I want to be in the draw to be a contender,” reflected El Shorbagy.



Sunday 13 November Finals:

2pm: (1) Joelle King  (NZL) v (6) Tesni Evans (Wales)

3pm: (1)  Paul Coll (NZL) v (2) Mohamed ElShorbagy (England)