This year’s Tarra Kia Bega Squash Open is set to become one of the richest squash events in Australia.
The Bega event alone will offer $15,000 for the PSA tournament, a prize almost 10 per cent of the entire Squash World Series prize and one of the richest in NSW.
The Open – to run on August 8-12 – will now match the Australian Squash Open for prizes and will be a massive draw card for visiting international players.
Club president John Stylianou said it was “a massive coup for the small Bega club” and said it was great to have Kia Australia sign on for a three-year sponsorship deal.
“They have a fantastic approach to sponsoring sport, and through the connections with Tarra Kia they agreed to match our prize pool with the Australian Open,” Mr Stylianou said.
“We’re now the biggest tournament in NSW and because of that already have a full house of players.”
To say the prize pool has generated good interest would be an understatement with players from more than 10 countries registering and more players seeking entry than will fit on the 24-player card.
The biggest tipping point for Mr Stylianou is that the top seeds will be the same top contenders as those in the Aus Open just a week before.
“I’m just so tickled pink by that, to be able to put this on in Bega and host this thrills me, it’s so wonderful,” he said.
Australian Commonwealth Games contender Rex Hedrick will be the top seed, while the tournament also features four players in the top 100 of the global rankings.
Returning players also included last year’s winner, the now Swedish national representative Dmitri Steinmann and the ‘local’ contender in Josh Larkin from Canberra.
Mr Stylianou said it had been a bit of a “mad scramble” to lock in the deal, but the response from Squash Australia in supporting the Bega event had been overwhelming.
The Bega event is recognised as one of the stops on the Australian Squash Tour coordinated by Squash Australia.
The Tarra Kia Bega Open will run from August 8-12, but also feature the 80 player local tournament for people of all abilities.
Mr Stylianou said Squash Australia’s Kay Kendall and ACT Squash president Michael Nuttall would also be visiting to talk about progressing the tournaments with Bega locking in rights to hold the PSA event until 2020.
“With the support of Kia Australia, this has really become quite a big deal,” Mr Stylianou said.