auranga's Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre will host its second top-level age-group basketball tournament in three weeks today and tomorrow when Basketball New Zealand's under-19 zone 2 premiership comes to down.
The QEII will host some of New Zealand and the region's best young basketball talent, with a small but quality field of four boys' teams from Counties (2), Waikato and Tauranga City fight it out on court.
Two girls' teams - Waikato and Tauranga City - will play off to decide who qualifies for the under-19 national tournament being held in Tauranga over Queen's Birthday weekend, June 3-6.
For the Tauranga teams, qualification for the nationals is already guaranteed as hosts.
However, the tournament is good chance to get a look at some of competition and improve their seeding for the New Zealand champs.
Both boys' and girls' teams come up against some great opposition in Counties and Waikato, with both teams (male and female) boasting national age-group players.
Tauranga City under-19 women are a composite team made up of players from Tauranga and Rotorua, as initially there were not enough girls from Tauranga to make up a team.
The merging of the two regions has created a talented lineup that has the potential to do well against a strong Waikato team which is one of the top rep teams the country.
Games begin today at 9am and go through to 9pm, with tomorrow's game starting at 9am, with the finals taking place at 5.45pm.
Otumoetai Swimming Club's Tayla Clement has come home from the New Zealand Open championships in Auckland with a full house of medals.
Clement is a paralympic swimmer with an S9 provisional classification.
At the nationals, competing alongside Commonwealth Games athletes, the 13-year-old won open age-group gold in the 50m freestyle, silver in the 200m individual medley and bronze in the 100m freestyle.
She trains alongside able-bodied swimmers under the guidance of Otumoetai head coach Stefan Swanepoel.
Clement was born with a rare congenital condition which also gave her bi-lateral club feet (talipes equinovarus).
Just over a week out from tournament, Midlands high performance coaches Hymie Gill and Lincoln Churchill are hard at work training the region's top talent for national honours at the New Zealand under-21 hockey tournament in Dunedin from May 7-13.
Midlands' under-21 teams include a number of former NZ Tiger Turf players - Kim Tanner, Lydia Velzian, Kayla Wilson, Matt Rees-Gibbs and Zac Woods, with Hillary Scholars Brooke Neal (Northland) and Kate Kernaghan (Otago) bringing their talent to the region.
Each team is also bolstered by Black Sticks squad members - Nick Ross for the men and Tauranga's Sam Charlton for the women.
After a few years of disappointing results for the Midlands under-21 teams, Gill and Churchill are expecting medals from both teams this year.
"We've got a core group of players in both teams who have played together for a number of years, and 2011 is the year for everything to gel and both our teams to end up on the podium," Gill said.
Midlands under-21 men:
Gurav Correa (Waikato), Luke Coxhead (Tauranga), Sam Greenhill (Tauranga), Cam Hayde (Waikato), James Linehan (Waikato), Tom Lysaght (Waikato), Abir Murkherjee (Waikato), Keegan Payne (Counties Manukau), Matt Rees-Gibbs (Waikato), Nick Ross (Waikato), Tim Seifert (Waikato), Jamie Stones (Waikato), Trent Summers (Thames Valley), Kyle Ostenfeld (Waikato), Chad Whitehead (Counties Manukau), Zac Woods (Waikato). Head coach: Lincoln Churchill
Midlands under-21 women:
Bronte Angell (Waikato), Sam Charlton (Tauranga), Natasha Cotton (Waikato), Okeroa Douglas (Bay of Plenty), Oriwa Hepi (Bay of Plenty), Tori Horsley (Waikato), Natasha Jaques (Waikato), Rose Keddell (Tauranga), Kate Kernaghan (Waikato), Rachael Lecky (Waikato), Dani Maunder (Tauranga), Hannah Marshall (Tauranga), Brooke Neal (Waikato), Kim Tanner (Waikato), Lydia Velzian (Waikato), Kayla Wilson (Waikato). Head coach: Hymie Gill.
The Eastpack Bay of Plenty Rippa Rugby World Cup has a big prize at stake for the winner of the Year 5 and 6 final scheduled for Paengaroa on June 8.
The New Zealand Rugby Union has recognised the value that Rippa Rugby delivers in the introductory game.
For the first time, a NZRU National Rippa World Cup will bring together the regional winners of the Year 5 and 6 competitions to find the best team in the country.
Kane Hames, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union development officer, said: "Rippa Rugby is outstanding in that it teaches the two fundamental skills of evasion and passing the ball."
In a three-week period kicking off on Wednesday May 18, the Bay of Plenty Rippa Rugby World Cup takes centre stage, with 1600 rugby-mad youngsters competing in three Bay of Plenty RRWC regional tournaments.
A total of 80 schools have entered the Bay of Plenty RRWC, with each school having a team of 10 players in each of the Year 3-4 and 5-6 divisions.
Blake Park at Mount Maunganui will host the first tournament on May 18, where a capacity field of 32 schools will chase promotion to the Baywide RRWC finals.
Another big line-up of 24 schools will be at Rex Morepeth Park in Whakatane the following Wednesday (25 May), with 24 schools attending the Rotorua tournament at Boord Park on June 1.
While each individual tournament will find a regional champion in the two grades, the semi-finalists from the Western Bay, Eastern Bay and Rotorua RRWC will be rewarded with berths at the Bay of Plenty RRWC finals.
BOPRU Eastpack Rippa Rugby World Cup
May 18: Western Bay @ Blake Park, Mount Maunganui (32 schools).
May 25: Eastern Bay @ Rex Morepeth Park, Whakatane (24 schools).
June 1: Rotorua @ Boord Park, Rotorua (24 schools).
June 8: Eastpack Bay of Plenty Rippa Rugby World Cup finals @ Paengaroa.
August 7-9: New Zealand Rugby Union Rippa World Cup @ North Harbour Stadium.