Boswel and King Triumph in Australian Open

July 20, 2009

Australian Stewart Boswell claimed his fourth title — and New Zealander Joelle King her maiden crown — when the pair emerged triumphant after today’s (Sunday) finals of the Clare Valley Australian Open at the Valleys Lifestyle Centre in Clare, South Australia.

In the marathon climax of the men’s $30,000 PSA World Tour tournament, Boswell beat fellow Australian Cameron Pilley, his doubles partner, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9 in a thrilling 98-minute match to move to fourth place on the men’s all-time list of Australian Open winners.

The clash, a repeat of the 2007 final, was full of high quality squash as the two Australian team-mates traded shots for over one and a half hours, both refusing to give an inch in a drama-charged final.

There was nothing between the two players for the whole match as first Boswell, then Pilley gained the ascendancy, each game being won by the barest of margins.

Going into the fifth there was still no indication as to who would end on top until, at six-all, Boswell stepped up a gear and opened a three-point break.

Pilley clawed it back to 9-9, but Boswell regrouped to win the next two points and the championship.

The 30-year-old from Canberra added the 2009 title to wins in 2002, 2006 and 2007 and will now defend his title when the Australian Open moves to his home town in 2010.

“It had a bit of everything,” Boswell said of the final. “It was a decent match as far as both grinding it out – I just probably got a bit lucky with the calls towards the end.”

Boswell said it was difficult playing Pilley, from New South Wales, because of the amount of time they had spent playing and training together.

“We practice together all the time and we both know each other’s games very well so it means the matches are always pretty tight,” he said.

The two have now met six times on the professional tour, with Boswell winning five of those, and four going the full distance.

Boswell, who was once ranked number four in the world before a severe back injury put him off the tour for almost two years, said he was surprised he had done so well.

“I am in the twilight of my career and I’m surprised at how I played this week,” said the world No20, who now boasts 18 PSA Tour titles. “I thought I might sneak through a couple of rounds but I’m really happy – I will try and build on that form throughout the new season.

“I played better as the week went on. I stuck to my tactical plans better than I have done.”

Boswell now moves on to Chinese Taipei where he represents Australia in the World Games, the squash event of which gets underway in Kaohsiung on Tuesday (21 July).

Joelle King became the second New Zealand winner in three years when she beat defending champion Annie Au 11-6, 11-13, 14-12, 11-7 in the final of the women’s $18,700 WISPA World Tour event.

The 20-year-old from Cambridge was seeded sixth heading into the Open, but downed top seed Kasey Brown in the semi-finals before accounting for Au, the second seed from Hong Kong, in the final.

Her power and speed proved the difference against Au, a player who relies more on placement than sheer force.

The Kiwi also showed enormous determination as she saved five game balls in the crucial third game, which would have given Au a 2/1 lead.

“I think if I had won that third game the result would have been different,” Au said. “But I lost concentration and she didn’t give up – I think maybe she was more eager to win than me.

“She played more shots and I felt like I was under pressure all the time.”

King’s countrywoman Shelley Kitchen won the Open in 2007 in its first year in Clare, while King and fellow Kiwi Jaclyn Hawkes both made the semi-finals last year.

“This is just huge for me – this is a big step in my career and I’m just absolutely over the moon,” said King, ranked 53 in the world. “I knew that if I could keep on top of her with my pace I would be okay but it’s hard to do that against a class player like Annie.”

King agreed that winning the third game from so far behind had been crucial: “I don’t know where that mongrel in me came from,” she said. “It was just a kind of blur from 5-10 down and then a few quick easy points and you’re back in the game.

“I think winning the third got me up for the fourth.”

King was always in control in the fourth as she took the match to join fellow New Zealanders Kitchen, Susan Devoy and Leilani Joyce on the Heather McKay Cup.

“This is by far the biggest title I’ve ever won,” said the new champion. “At the end of last year I got to a certain point on my natural talent and ability and I knew that I had to put in some big work physically and mentally to take me to the next step, and I’ve done that this year.

“I’ve always thought I could be a top 20, top 10 player and now that I’m starting to beat these girls I definitely know it’s possible.”


Men’s final:

[2] Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt [3] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9 (98m)

Women’s final:

[6] Joelle King (NZL) bt [2] Annie Au (HKG) 11-6, 11-13, 14-12, 11-7 (48m)

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