The youngest competitor at the Golf Croquet Nationals starting in Havelock North on Sunday is keen to test himself against New Zealand's best players for the first time.
Heretaunga Croquet Club is hosting the week-long tournament, and member Thomas Monteith can't wait for it to begin.
"It's the best players that come to these competitions, so I'm expecting it to be a challenge but I'm also really looking forward to it because I like to challenge myself in games," the 15-year-old from Hastings said.
He said he doesn't have a target result in either the singles or doubles championships in mind, more wanting to learn and soak up the experience of the event.
Monteith took up the sport four years ago after going along to a holiday programme just to try something new.
"One of the ladies there saw that I could do quite well, and she told my mum that I should keep playing," he said.
The Hastings Christian School student said he grew to really love croquet, especially the tactical element: "You can make a formula or plan, and you can see it play out. It's such a great feeling when you've got a little scheme and then it works."
The nationals open with the doubles competition, and Monteith said it will give him a good feel for the level before the singles begin.
He is playing with fellow Heretaunga member Tony Stephens, and Monteith said he has already learned heaps off his "amazing" clubmate.
"He's the best player that I've ever played with, he does things that I didn't think were even physically possible."
They are two of the Heretaunga Croquet Club's six entries into the tournament, with players from Thames Valley, Auckland, Manawatu Wanganui, Wellington, Canterbury, Nelson, Hawke's Bay, South Taranaki, South Canterbury and Northland competing.
There are 27 entries in the singles competition, and spectators are welcome to attend the nationals at 341 Napier Rd from January 3 to 10.