The world's top junior squash players carried their national flags into Baycourt tonight for the official opening ceremony of the World Junior Squash Championships.
A representative from each of the 28 countries entered the theatre with their national flag and placed a flag on the stage at the beginning of the ceremony.
Those attending were told it was the first time Tauranga had hosted a world championship event.
Organising committee chairman Wayne Werder said it was exciting to officially open the championships.
"It has been a few years in the making.
"It is the first world sporting event in Tauranga."
A glass court has been set up at the Queen Elizabeth Centre for people to watch the main events. People can also watch games at the Devoy Squash and Fitness Club for free, and Te Puke Squash Club and Mount Maunganui Squash Club will also be hosting games.
Mr Werder thanked the sponsors and host clubs for opening their clubs to the world.
He said 200 volunteers were involved in the big event and he wished the teams and coaches good luck for the 11-day tournament.
"Play hard, but play fair and enjoy your time here."
Team USA coach Scott Devoy said he had brought 12 players - six boys and six girls - to Tauranga for the tournament.
Mr Devoy said his squad had been in Auckland training for a few days and were ready to begin the tournament.
"We have worked hard, and now it is time to get on with it. We are very excited."
High commissioners from India and Pakistan attended, as did Kiwi former world champion Dame Susan Devoy.
Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless welcomed the sports teams and officials to the city.
"It is a great pleasure to welcome you here to Tauranga for the World Junior Squash Championships.
"I trust that you will find ours an attractive and welcoming city."
Dame Susan, who is now the Race Relations Commissioner, told the crowd she first competed in the World Junior Squash Championships in 1980.
She said it was a "real opportunity and privilege" for the Kiwi junior players to play in their home town.
"Some of my favourite memories were in 1987 when we hosted the world champs in Auckland and to be able to play in front of your home crowd and family and friends is something you will cherish for years."
She also gave a shout-out to her nephew Scott Devoy, the USA coach.
"You can say that squash is definitely in our blood."
Dame Susan said it was a privilege to see world juniors play at her Tauranga club and she wished them luck for the tournament.
Performances were given by Tauranga Intermediate's kapa haka group, Maori-fusion hip-hop group JGeeks, and Urban Dance.