Many of the state’s best players were given an on-court tutorial from one of the world’s top players in claiming the prestigious Wollongong Open squash tournament.
Australian professional Matt Karwalski has a world ranking of 61 and showed his class in not dropping a set in winning three matches to clinch the title at Dapto Squash Courts.
With a total purse of more than $3000 plus prizes, the tournament attracted about 90 players from as far south as Canberra and Bega, west to Bathurst and north to Newcastle, plus a host of local stars.
The championships featured several divisions, with top Bathurst player Alysha Pollard beating Canberra’s Lorraine Rae in the open women’s decider.
Karwalski, 28, dominated the men’s division, beating NSW No 4 Brett Hyland – who plays for Lakeside Eagles in the Illawarra competition – in a competitively fought final.
Australian representative Karwalski is based in Orlando, Florida, while on the world tour and last December held a career-high world ranking of 49.
Having the international star play in the Wollongong Open was a boost for Illawarra squash, with a packed house for the final.
Karwalski beat Bathurst’s Daniel Pollard and Lakeside Eagles’ Troy Mountford en route to the final, while Hyland had a comfortable path to the decider, beating Sydney-based Dane Sephton and Canberra’s Ray Payne in straight games.
‘‘Matt showed what it takes to play at the next level as a pro and it was great to get him here for our big event,’’ tournament spokesman Peter Bullman said.
Squash is enjoying a resurgence in the region with the Illawarra spring competition beginning in a few weeks.