By DAVE WORSLEY – Squash Mad Correspondent
Evan Williams and Emma Millar emerged triumphant after two dramatic, five-game finals in the Henderson Rochelle Hobbs PSA Open tournament in Auckland.
The women’s contest featured top-100 ranked Emma Millar winning 12-10 in the fifth against Henderson club captain and former top ten pro Shelley Kitchen, who at 41 showed plenty of power and fitness as if she was ready to play in the British Open once again.
Kitchen won the first game 10-12 after an initial struggle, but then found herself well beaten by current New Zealand national champion, Millar from the Waikato. However, the tables were turned in the third game with Kitchen again winning, this time 11-9.
Into the fourth the style of play became a little bit less frantic and the two players varied the pace more and Millar equalled the games.
In the fifth and final it was difficult to pick a winner as Millar, 12 years the junior of Kitchen chipped away to eventually win 12-10 in an enthralling and powerful contest.
The men’s final had Joel Arscott ranked 248 in the world in his first PSA Challenger tournament final take an early lead and look-odds on to score a victory over the much more experienced Evan Williams from Wellington.
Arscott was up two games and had a total of four match balls before Williams ranked 89th somehow edged his way back into the match on each occasion scrapping his way into the contest to fight for another point.
Going into the fourth game 1-2 down, Williams used all of his experienced to take the set 11-8 and then with renewed vigour hit the fifth game with energy as Arscott appeared zapped of energy to win the fifth and final game 11-1 for an overall score of 9-11, 10-12,16-14, 11-8, 11-1 in well over an hours play.
For the left-handed Williams, a Commonwealth Games rep at the Gold Coast games, it was his seventh pro Challenger title and one of the harder fought tournaments having played a five game quarter-final win, four games in the semis and then five in the final.
The next tournament in the Summer Series of events in this week at Eden Epsom with two PSA Satellite events.
Surprises in semi-finals
Top seeds Evan Williams and Emma Millar are through to their respective finals at the Henderson Rochelle Hobbs PSA Open in Auckland after a busy day of matches featuring plenty of interest, but they will face surprise finalists.
Williams ranked in the world’s top 100 will be looking to defend his title at Henderson, but didn’t have it all his way to make the final. He was taken to five games in his quarter-final earlier in the day by Temwa Chileshe and then to four games in his semifinal.
His opponent for the title, Joel Arscott is ranked 248 in the world and known for his competitiveness on court. For 21-eyar-old Arscott it will be his first PSA final and came after two straight game wins, one over Finn Trimble in the quarters and then Elijah Tomas in the semis.
Earlier, teenager Tomas scored the upset of the tournament with a five game victory over second seed and world No.149 Lwamba Chileshe.
In the women’s draw Millar, who is 98 on the PSA rankings, beat teenager Sophie Hodges in her quarter-final and then had a dramatic struggle to overcome Lana Harrison in five games in the semis.
A 5-5 in the fifth Harrison copped a racket in the forehead from Millar and needed a blood timeout. She’s now sporting a large lump and a nasty gash after the accidental hit to the head. Millar eventually won 8-11 9-11 11-4 11-3 12-10.
Millar will take on former top-ten ranked Shelley Kitchen for the title. The now 41-year-old Kitchen, who is the club captain at Henderson, displayed plenty of power to defeat second seed Lauren Clarke in straight games. Earlier Kitchen beat Katie Templeton in straight games in the quarters.
Kitchen continues to look like she could still match it on the PSA circuit and will now doubt give national champion Millar a competitive match.
Henderson Rochelle Hobbs PSA Open, Auckland, New Zealand.
 Evan Williams bt Joel Arscott 9-11, 10-12, 16-14, 11-8, 11-1,
 Evan Williams beat Lance Beddoes 11-3 8-11 1-5 11-4,
Joel Arscott beat Elijah Thomas 11-5 11-6 11-9
 Evan Williams beat Temwa Chileshe 11-3 10-12 11-7 12-14 11-6
Lance Beddoes beat  Sion Wiggin 8-11 11-4 5-11 12-10 11-5
Joel Arscott beat Finn Trimble 11-6 11-3 11-6
Elijah Thomas beat  Lwamba Chileshe 11-8 9-11 5-11 11-8 11-8
 Emma Millar bt Shelley Kitchen 10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10.
 Emma Millar beat Lana Harrison 8-11 9-11 11-4 11-3 12-10,
Shelley Kitchen beat  Lauren Clarke 11-3 12-10 11-8
 Emma Millar beat Sophie Hodges 11-4 11-5 11-3
Lana Harrison beat  Ella Lash 8-11 11-4 11-1 11-4
Shelley Kitchen beat  Katie Templeton 11-9 11-5 11-1
 Lauren Clarke beat Grace Hymers 11-4 11-8 11-4
Pictures courtesy of Jonathan Zouch (Squash NZ)