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Whiteside, Ho win squash meet

Arin Kumar
Wednesday, September 03, 2014

FORMER champion Justin Ho marked his return to local competition with a hard fought win at the National Squash Championship.

The current national number three beat number one Marika Matanatabu 3-2 in the final of the Fulton Hogan Hiways-sponsored event at the Defence Club on Saturday.

Ho got off to a good start in the final winning the first two sets 11-2 and 11-4.

Lautoka's Matanatabu rallied back to win the next two sets 12-10 and 11-8 but Ho stunned the top seed 11-3 in the decisive set to win the A-grade title.

Ho has taken a year and a half off local competition for his trip to Australia and said he was slowly returning to peak fitness.

"It was a tough and challenging final and I never underestimate any opponent," he said.

"I left the country for a year and a half and now came back to try and make the national squad for next year's Pacific Games.

"I have only been back for the two months and even though I did compete a little in Sydney, I am still not at peak fitness but expect to get there soon."

Meanwhile, national badminton rep Andra Whiteside won the ladies competition in her first major squash competition.

She beat Sharon Wild of Savusavu's Planters Club 3-0 in the final to show her intention of playing squash at the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea next year.

National coach Isimeli Cerelala said Whiteside and other badminton convert Gabriella Wong were impressive and could make the Pacific Games squad.

"A squad of 17 players have expressed their interest to play for Fiji at the Pacific Games next year," he said.

"We will review the performance of players after the National Championships and then name the training squad."

Cerelala won the B-grade of the competition while Mia Cusack won via walkover against Alipate Vakamocea in the C-grade final.

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