Hawke's Bay squash player Winona-Jo Joyce heaped kudos on the home crowd support after finishing second in the North Island under-19 girls championship on Monday.
"I couldn't have asked for more from the home crowd. I had lots of support and I played pretty well the whole weekend," Joyce said.
The 18-year-old Havelock North A2 grader, who was a member of the New Zealand team at last year's world junior teams champs in Chennai, India, wanted to prove a point after only being named as a non-travelling reserve for next month's world champs in Malaysia. Left hander Joyce, the second seed, beat one of the players who will travel to Malaysia, Waikato's Georgia Robcke, the third seed, 11-7, 11-0, 11-5 in her semifinal.
In her final Joyce was beaten 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 by the top seed and another member of the Kiwi team for Malaysia, Anika Jackson of Waikato. She said reaching the final helped erase some of the disappointment of missing out on the Malaysia trip.
This weekend Joyce will play in the South Island championships in Christchurch where she will attempt to win the under-19 title she won in 2017. She didn't play in the South Island championships last year as she was in India.
"Obviously it will be colder in the South Island so I will have to make the necessary adjustment with my length," Joyce said.
She was one of 128 players who played in the three-day North Island champs hosted by her club and the Hastings Tennis and Squash Club. Another Squash Eastern representative, Gisborne's Willz Donnelly, the second seed, was beaten 11-7, 11-2, 3-11, 11-4 by fellow A1 grader and the top seeded Temwa Chileshe of Waikato in the under-19 boys final.
Wellingtonian Oliver Dunbar, the top seed in the under-13 boys, beat the second seed and fellow C1-grader Riley McCracken of Auckland 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 in his final. Dunbar is the son of former Hawke's Bay player Debbie McCarthy and former nationally ranked Wellington rep Steve Dunbar.
Oliver's older sister and B2 grader, Hannah Dunbar, was the third seed in the under-15 girls. She was beaten in straight sets by the Auckland A2-graded top seed Ella Lash in her final after earlier beating Joyce's sister, Rakairoa, the B2-graded second seed in their semifinal.