9:13 am
16 Jul 2024

Clare To Host Australian Open

4 Jul 2007

Australia's world number 12 Stewart Boswell is confident of defending his Australian Open title when the 2007 tournament gets underway in the South Australian wine-producing centre of Clare, near Adelaide, this week.

The Clare Valley Australian Open, the country's most prestigious squash tournament, will be played on an all-glass court in the basketball stadium at the Valleys Lifestyle Centre in Clare.

Qualifying for both the PSA Tour men's event and women's WISPA World Tour women's championship, begins on Wednesday, with the tournament proper beginning on Thursday - leading to finals on Sunday.

Boswell upset the then world number two David Palmer in a five-game classic to claim his second national open title when the tournament was held in Adelaide this time last year. The former world No4 also took the title in 2002.

The 28-year-old from Canberra said he was looking forward to defending his title in the new setting of Clare. "It should be good - obviously they've made a big effort down in South Australia to get sponsors and get the glass court up," said the top seed. "So I'm looking forward to playing there."

Boswell's main challenge will come from New South Welshman Cameron Pilley, the second seed ranked 22 in the world - as well as New Zealand number one Kashif Shuja and Tasmania's Aaron Frankcomb, the third and fourth seeds, respectively.

The field includes a mixture of youth and experience, with promising newcomers Scott Arnold and Ryan Cuskelly looking to notch upsets over older and higher-ranked players such as Mike Corren and Paul Davis.

New Zealand's Martin Knight and Tom Hoevenaars of the Netherlands add to the international flavour of the men's event.

Despite being the tournament favourite, Boswell was not underestimating the rest of the field. "Cameron (Pilley) beat me the last time we played each other so he's been playing well," Boswell said. "Then you've got some of the younger guys who are coming through pretty quickly as well, so it's not going to be easy."

Boswell added that it was disappointing Australia's two top players could not make the tournament, with Palmer unable to leave his Belgian base because of family reasons and Anthony Ricketts currently out with an elbow injury.

"When we're back here, we normally try and support the Australian Open, especially this year when they've put such a big effort into getting it up and running," he said.

After the Australian Open Boswell heads to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Open, then returns to the AIS in Brisbane to prepare for the major European tournaments, which begin in August.

New Zealand's Shelley Kitchen is making her first appearance at an Australian Open and has been seeded number one for the women's event ahead of the host country's defending champion Kasey Brown.

Amelia Pittock, who won the South Australian Open on Sunday, is third seed, with Elise Ng of Hong Kong rounding out the top four.

Kitchen, winner of the North Shore Open in New Zealand last month, is pleased with her form heading into the Open. She said her goal was to break into the top 10 by the end of the year and the increased ranking points on offer at the Australian Open convinced her to head to Clare this month.

"I've done well so far this year - I've made the quarter-finals in the bigger tournaments, so yeah, the points (at the Australian Open) are a factor," she said.

Kitchen's partner is Australian number two Anthony Ricketts, so she knows many of the Australian players well.

"When we're in Brisbane I play with the girls a lot there, and also in New York when they're based in New York with (AIS coach) Rodney Martin," she said.

"I played with Amelia Pittock a few times there and Lisa Camilleri, and also with Kasey so I guess we know each other really well."

Kitchen's only recent loss in New Zealand was in the final of the Central Open, where she was beaten in straight games by Brown.

But Pittock, Lisa Camilleri and reigning Australian junior champion Peta Hughes also head into the Open with recent tournament victories under their belts.