Shelley Kitchen is trying to be humble about it, but it only takes a quick glimpse at the results to see that the Kaitaia squash professional is in exceptional form heading into the New Zealand national championships in Christchurch this weekend.
Kitchen, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, is out to defend her title which she won for the first time last year. But it will take an upset of monumental proportions for Kitchen to be unseated from her throne as the best female squash player in the country. Especially in the form she is taking into the tournament.
Kitchen has won both the Whakatane women's and Auckland open titles in the last two weeks, marching through her games with such commanding form that she hasn't even dropped a game.
It will be a surprise if she doesn't maintain that momentum this weekend.
"I won both titles in three, but I would not say they were comfortable wins by any means. I mean, I did not drop a game, so it looked like it was easy, but it wasn't really," Kitchen said.
"But I have so many tournaments every year now that you don't really spend much time thinking about the last one.
"Even if I don't win (in Christchurch) it is just going to be 'oh well', then off to the British Open," she said.
Now based in England, Kitchen is currently ranked 13th on the world women's rankings.
As part of her contract to New Zealand Squash she always plays in the national championships.
But her main focus is on the world tour. She will play in the British Open just eight days after competing in Christchurch, before heading to tour events in New York, Hong Kong and Qatar.
"To be honest I would actually like the New Zealand nationals to be later in the year because right now I would prefer to be in England preparing for the (British) Open.
"It is not an ideal lead into it, because I only get a week before the Open starts," she said.
Kitchen and Kashif Shuja are the top seeds for the women's and men's titles respectively in Christchurch.
Shuja heads into the tournament in superb form, having won two of the three PSA World Tour events in New Zealand this month. His main rivals for the title are expected to be Callum O'Brien, Josh Greenfield and Campbell Grayson.
Grayson has already given the kiwi No. 1 a run for his money in the last few days, pushing Shuja to five games in the final of the Central Open in New Plymouth.
The women's title draw includes all four of the New Zealand women's team who head to the World Championships in Canada next month. Kitchen's team-mates Jaclyn Hawkes, Louise Crome and Joelle King are all seeded to make it through to the semifinals.
The first round is scheduled to start tomorrow.
- NORTHERN ADVOCATE (WHANGAREI)