Water polo: Youngsters reach new heights at world U18s


Four local teenagers have returned home happy with their performances for New Zealand at the 2012 World U18 Water Polo Champs held in Perth.

Cameron Hayes and Matt Hansen (Tauranga Boys' College) and Danny Kayes (Mount Maunganui College) were all in the Under-18 men's team, while Simone Couvee (Mount Maunganui College) was in the women's team.

Both teams achieved best ever results in a very competitive world champs event.

"We're lucky in that New Zealand and Australia basically automatically qualify from Oceania, but in all the other regions there are fiercely contested qualifying tournaments," said Johnathon Ware, New Zealand men's coach.

"For example some of the best European countries didn't qualify for Perth.

"The water polo world champs are like a soccer World Cup - highly competitive.

"The men's team placed 10th, which meant we achieved our goal of a top 12 finish, which is the best result a New Zealand men's team of any age has ever had at a world champs.

"We had excellent wins over Columbia (11-10), South Africa (14-6) and Canada (14-11) and lost against Croatia (4-17), Romania (4-5), Australia (6-10) and Brazil (9-12).

"The Tauranga locals all had great tournaments with Daniel Kayes scoring 14 goals in the tournament. "What's really exciting is Cameron Hayes and Matt Hansen are still just 16 and can go to the next world champs too."

In the women's section, Spain withdrew at the last minute and the effect was not good from New Zealand's point of view, as it meant they had one less game.

But the Under-18 women's team played superbly and produced a best ever finish for them of sixth place at a world championship event.

In pool play they lost to Brazil 10-13 and Canada 7-14, beat the Czech Republic 18-6 in a cross over game, then lost to the US 7-16 in a quarter-final.

A key win was against Brazil 11-10 in a playoff semifinal before they lost to Canada in the play-off for 5th-6th, ending up in sixth place overall. Both New Zealand teams were strongly supported by parents and other family members. Ware said it was amazing to watch the international water polo talent on show.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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