There's been plenty of joviality in the Hawke's Bay Squash Club's women's team at the national E grade Super Champs in Hastings this week.
Most of it is related to the team's attire and coach Don Matthews' guesswork with it. The majority of the team's playing tops are too tight and their sweatshirts too big.
"It's all about the squash ... not the way we look," quipped No1 Jessica Ennor after maintaining her unbeaten run and helping her team secure a semifinal berth at the 16-team Tumu ITM-sponsored event hosted by the Hastings club.
Ennor, a 15-year-old Sacred Heart College year 11 student, is one of four players unbeaten in their first three fixtures. On Wednesday Hawke's Bay beat Wellington representatives Red Star and top seeds Ngaruawahia 4-1 and yesterday Whangarei 5-0.
Her older sister Ashleigh, playing at No4, No2 Rosemary Mair and No3 Rebecca McIntosh are also unbeaten.
"A few of us were in the F grade team which got second in Taumarunui last year and are keen to go one step better this week," Ennor said.
The E1 grader won her first two matches 3-1 and her third 3-0.
"I usually have slow starts because of nerves but after the first set I'm sweet," Ennor explained.
A competitive player for the past three years, Ennor, also plays hockey and soccer in the winter and is a surf lifeguard for Westshore in the summer. The daughter of former Magpies midfield back Russell Ennor wants to emulate her mother Sandra and gain C grade status.
Ennor is thrilled with the coaching the likes of Matthews and Murray Sutherland have given her and the other junior development squad members at her club.
"We've got 30 players in the squad. Some of the teams here at the nationals come from clubs with 25 members," Ennor said.
However Ennor, who is eyeing a career in medicine, pointed out this doesn't mean there will be any complacency come this morning's semifinals or tomorrow's final should her team qualify. Manager Scott Applegate said having three juniors in the team will boost the stamina and fitness levels come the business end of the tournament.
"Opposing teams have commented on the good conduct, attitude and temperament of our juniors. They are having fun and giving the coach stick about his ability to purchase clothes is part of that fun," Applegate added.
Applegate and Matthews' troops will play Hawke's Bay Lawn in this morning's semifinals. Hawke's Bay Lawn, who were late entrants after a team withdrew, snuck into the semifinals on countback following 3-2 losses to Rangitikei and Devoy Squash and a 4-1 win against Henderson. The other women's semifinal will see Rangitikei take on Ngaruawahia.
Havelock North's men had to beat North Shore last night and hope other results go their way in their quest for a semifinal finish. On Wednesday Havelock beat Red Star 4-1 and in their first fixture yesterday lost 4-1 to Te Puke.
"We shouldn't have lost to Te Puke and three of our losses were five-setters. Those blokes are eager to redeem themselves," Havelock manager Scott Fergusson said before their clash with North Shore began.
The Hawke's Bay Lawn men, who were also late entrants after a team withdrew, were winless going into their match against Whangarei last night. On Wednesday they lost 5-0 to Palmerston North and earlier yesterday 4-1 to Mitchell Park.