The Panmure Tecnifibre Open is one of two events on the Challenger Tour this weekend, with action coming from Auckland, New Zealand, from Friday through to Sunday.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Challenger 5 level event has been restricted to cross-border participation meaning only those based in Australia and New Zealand can play.
The women’s draw features 16 Kiwis aiming to win on home soil, and once again, Emma Millar and Kaitlyn Watts could meet in the final, having done so at the last two events on the Challenger Tour.
Watts, who is currently World No.234, has gotten the better of World No.97 Millar at the Royal Oak Open and the Waikato Open, claiming the silverware on both occasions. The 20-year-old will be aiming to make it three from three this week.
The men’s draw features a pair of Australians, in Benjamin Ratcliffe and Damon Macmillan. The former is the No.8 seed for the tournament, and will be aiming to cause upsets later on in the tournament.
World No.84 Evan Williams will be the top seed for the men’s events, with each of the top four seeds already having an appearance in a final to their name in 2021. Joel Arscott made the final of the Henderson Rochelle Hobbs Open, where he played Williams, while the Chileshe brothers, Lwamba and Temwa, met in the final of the Morrinsville Open.
We spoke to the younger of the Chileshe siblings, 20-year-old Temwa, ahead of this week’s event, who comes off the back of reaching his last two finals.
“I feel like I’m starting to play some of my best squash since joining the tour in 2019,” the Kiwi said.
“I’ve had a great start to my 2021 season in winning two satellites and making the final of two Challenger Tour events so hopefully I can continue this good form going into the next event.”
“I think having confidence in my game and believing in myself is something that I’ve struggled with in the past, and it’s something I’m currently working on. Making these two finals have reminded me I’m good enough to get there and I’ve learned a lot from both losses.
“I think this experience that I now have should help me going into my next final. I’ve also been working closely with my team (TeamXLPro) to make subtle tactical changes in my game. So hopefully I can grab my first PSA Challenger Tour title soon.”
In his first Challenger Tour final, Chileshe came up against older brother Lwamba, unfortunately losing out to his elder sibling in a five-game battle in Morrinsville. He may have lost the match, but he admits he was proud of his brother’s achievements.
“It was my first Challenger Tour final so I was really nervous, but I was also excited. I’ve played my brother countless times and we’ve been reasonably even in terms of our record against one another this year so I knew it would be a close match,” the Kiwi said.
“It’s always tough playing him, we know each other’s game so well and also how to get in each other’s head, so of course there were some mind games going on before the match. But it was great to play him in the final, I was obviously gutted to lose that one but really happy for him to win his first Challenger title.”
Chileshe currently occupies the World No.206 spot, and has been as high as World No.202. He believes he is ready to take the next step and break into the top 200, before pushing even further.
“I think my latest results are a sign that my level is continuing to rise which is what I’m after at this stage in my career. I have had both four and five-game matches against top 100 players recently so I believe I’m playing top 200 level squash,” he explained.
“Hopefully I can break inside the top 200 in the next few months. My goal is to be inside the top 150 by the end of the year and after that I will look to break into the top 100.”
Action from the Panmure Tecnifibre Open will be streamed throughout the week on the Panmure Squash Club Facebook page, with the club showing live action across the weekend.
Men’s Draw: Panmure Tecnifibre Open
 Evan Williams (NZL) v Chris van der Salm (NZL)
Mason Smales (NZL) v  Benjamin Ratcliffe (AUS)
 Sion Wiggin (NZL) v Lance Beddoes (NZL)
Apa Fatialofa Junior (NZL) v  Temwa Chileshe (NZL)
 Joel Arscott (NZL) v [WC] Gabe Yam (NZL)
Finn Trimble (NZL) v  William Donnelly (NZL)
 Zac Millar (NZL) v Damon Macmillan (AUS)
Glenn Templeton (NZL) v  Lwamba Chileshe (NZL)
Women’s Draw: Panmure Tecnifibre Open
 Emma Millar (NZL) v Dora Galloway (NZL)
[WC] Tyler Duberly (NZL) v  Sophie Hodges (NZL)
 Winona-Jo Joyce (NZL) v Kayti Carrick (NZL)
[WC] Mala Smales (NZL) v  Ella Lash (NZL)
 Kaitlyn Watts (NZL) v [WC] Anne Leakey (NZL)
Ashlee Pepper (NZL) v  Grace Hymers (NZL)
 Katie Templeton (NZL) v [WC] Maiden-Lee Coe (NZL)
[WC] Luka Unger (NZL) v  Abbie Palmer (NZL)