Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Squash: Joe beats heat, No1 seed for title

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Tauranga's Oceania Junior Under-13 squash champion Joe Smythe. Photo / John Borren
Tauranga's Oceania Junior Under-13 squash champion Joe Smythe. Photo / John Borren

Young Tauranga squash player Joe Smythe caused the major upset at last month's 2016 Oceania Junior Championships played on the Gold Coast.

The 12-year-old from the Devoy Squash and Fitness Centre won the Under-13 title against all odds and the best players from New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia.

He upset top-seeded Australian Gregory Chan in a pulsating final by 11-4, 14-12, 13-11 to clinch the sole title won by a New Zealander.

The Tauranga Intermediate student says he quickly overcame his initial nerves and the extreme conditions to play in, with no air conditioning and 34-35C on court.

"I was a bit awkward at the start, but I don't think he was concentrating enough. He is quite hard to play because he doesn't rally the ball as much," Joe said.

"It was quite scary once I started hitting the ball on court. I wasn't used to (the heat) and how high the ball bounced on the court but you do get used to it after a couple of hits around.

"I was going for top three as my main goal. It feels good, but it still doesn't feel like I have won it."

Three tests for New Zealand against high quality Malaysian competition later this year is Joe's next big challenge.

Bay of Plenty coaching director and coach of the New Zealand world junior boys' squad, Robbie Wyatt, took the team to Australia.

"It was a great achievement for him because he was not seeded to make the finals and Gregory Chan was physically a lot bigger and a lot stronger.

To be fair we thought he might be a fair bit better at this stage of Joe's squash development but, in the final, he just stepped it up.

"He forced Gregory into a lot of mistakes and the pressure really told on the young Aussie boy in the end. Joe came through and took him out which was fantastic.

"His strengths are he is a determined little guy and he is a real whippet so he is quick around the squash court. He listens to instructions brilliantly and he takes stuff on board."

Tauranga's Alex Revington also competed while clubmate Jamie Oakley missed the event due to a broken finger from the US Open in December.

"Alex lost his quarter-final match in the Under-19 section against one of the top two Malaysian players. At the moment the Malaysians are among the top three junior boys and girls teams in the world," Wyatt said.

"Alex is a hard-working boy and is very fit. He is in the process of trying to make the (New Zealand) world junior team to go to Poland in a few months along with Jamie.

"Jamie was runner-up at the recent Canadian Open in the juniors. He has the ability to go a long, long way with squash. He has just been accepted into George Washington University on a squash scholarship."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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