10:17 am
20 Jun 2024

Paul Coll & Nele Gilis Delight In Dream NZ Open Success

10 Dec 2023

Soon-to-be husband and wife Paul Coll of New Zealand and Nele Gilis of Belgium have been crowned the New Zealand Open champions after beating England's Marwan ElShorbagy and sister Tinne Gilis, respectively, today in the PSA World Tour Silver event finals in Tauranga.

In front of a packed crowd at the Mercury Baypark Arena, Coll exorcised the demons of his defeat in last year's final to Marwan's brother, Mohamed ElShorbagy.

The home favourite started brilliantly, covering the court well with his trademark relentless energy as he took the lead with an 11-6 win in game one before doubling the lead by the same scoreline in game two.

ElShorbagy, who last night fought back from two games down in a brutal 83-minute battle with Joel Makin, struggled to match the top seed's intensity as the match wore on, with Coll powering on to victory in front of the raucous home crowd with yet another 11-6.

Afterwards, Coll said: "It feels so good, the atmosphere was wicked with so many family and friends. It was absolutely buzzing in the stands.

"I was very happy to do it in three so the nerves didn't start to kick in too much and I'm ecstatic to get my name on the NZ Open trophy."

Meanwhile, in the women's event, Nele Gilis put in a crushing performance against younger sister Tinne in the siblings' fourth successive meeting in a Tour final.

The No.1 seed - considered an honorary Kiwi by many in the Tauranga crowd thanks to her engagement to Coll - made a strong start to the match, edging a number of punishing rallies in a 17-minute 11-8 game one win.

Game two was a more straightforward affair for the 27-year-old, with Nele doubling her lead with an 11-3 win as Tinne appeared to struggle with an injury.

Tinne improved in game three as she looked to launch a comeback, but was unable to consistently beat her sister's impeccable defences, with Nele sealing her second title of the year with an 11-8 victory to bring the contest to a close.

Afterwards, Nele said: "It feels absolutely amazing, pretty much in front of a home crowd and my mum.

"Honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better end to the year.

"It's so difficult and emotional [to play your sister]."

For Coll and ElShorbagy, attention turns to the WSF Men's World Team Championship, which begins tomorrow in Tauranga.

For Nele and Tinne Gilis, attention turns to the Platinum-level JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, which takes place in New York between 17-25 January.