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Squash: Kobayashi offers Olympic hope after capturing Kiwi crown

Japan No. 1 Misaki Kobayashi (right) beat Megan Craig to win the NZ Southern Open. Photo: c/o WSA.

Japan No. 1 Misaki Kobayashi (right) beat Megan Craig to win the NZ Southern Open. Photo: c/o WSA.

June 22, 2015: Providing an auspicious omen for squash just hours before the sport was shortlisted for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Japan No. 1 Misaki Kobayashi won the Invercargill Licensing Trust NZ Southern Open in New Zealand.

 

The second-seeded Kobayashi, 25, bounced back from losing the opening game to beat fourth seed Megan Craig 3-1 (6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5) in 38 minutes at Squash City Invercargill.

 

It was the first meeting between the record six-time Japanese national champion, the World No. 36, and the reigning New Zealand champion, ranked 13 places lower.

 

“I’m really happy to end the season with a win – and happy with the coolest trophy I’ve ever got too,” Kobayashi said after securing the eighth WSA World Tour title of her career.

 

“This win means a lot to me as squash still has a huge chance to get into the Olympics and I hope my result will encourage the Olympic committee members to know that there is bright future for squash and a real chance for a Japanese athlete to win a medal if it gets into 2020.”

 

Kobayashi beat New Zealand No. 1 Amanda Landers-Murphy 3-1 in the semi-finals of the WSA Challenger 10 event, while Craig reached the final by twice coming from behind to upset top seed Siyoli Waters of South Africa 3-2. Craig, 22, won her first Tour event on home soil only a week earlier.

 

Invercargill Licensing Trust NZ Southern Open, Squash City Invercargill, Invercargill, New Zealand

 

Final

[2] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt [4] Megan Craig (NZL) 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (38m)

 

Semi-finals:

[4] Megan Craig (NZL) bt [1] Siyoli Waters (RSA) 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-2, 12-10 (52m)

[2] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt [3] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (42m)

 

Quarter-finals:

[1] Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt [7] Sina Wall (GER) 11-7, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9 (34m)

[4] Megan Craig (NZL) bt Jessica Turnbull (AUS) 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 (20m)

[3] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt [5] Christine Nunn (AUS) 12-10, 11-4, 11-9 (38m)

[2] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt [6] Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7 (35m)

 

First round:

[1] Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt [Q] Danielle Fourie (NZL) 11-6, 11-6, 14-12 (23m)

[7] Sina Wall (GER) bt [Q] Hwayeong Eum (KOR) 6-11, 11-3, 11-0, 11-8 (28m)

Jessica Turnbull (AUS) bt [8] Lakeesha Rarere (AUS) 11-9, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6 (40m)

[4] Megan Craig (NZL) bt [Q] Yura Choi (KOR) 11-3, 11-7, 11-4 (20m)

[3] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt Selena Shaikh (AUS) 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 (17m)

[5] Christine Nunn (AUS) bt [Q] Hyo Ju Seo (KOR) 11-7, 11-3, 11-1 (17m)

[6] Sarah Cardwell (AUS) bt Jasmine Chan (AUS) 11-4, 11-7, 11-7

[2] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Abbie Palmer (NZL) 11-3, 11-2, 11-8

 

Source: WSA (wsaworldtour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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