A Trans-Tasman test series will be the feature attraction of the New Zealand Masters squash championships which begin in Napier on Monday.
The series began in 1984 and continued annually for 10 years until the frequency was altered to biennially. The first test will be played at the Hawke's Bay club in Onekawa on Monday night, the second on Tuesday night and the third on the following Thursday.
"This is the first time the series has been hosted in the Bay and to get international players of this calibre will be huge for the code in the province," club manager Jeff Silvester said.
Over-35s age-group player Kashif Shuja of Auckland will spearhead the Kiwis' assault. He has been a professional for 10 years, has won five national senior championships and 11 PSA World titles. Other Kiwis tipped to perform well include Willie Bicknell in the 45-plus age group and Kathryn McKay in the 50-plus age group.
McKay has finished third in the World Masters twice, won 10 New Zealand titles and one Australian title. Bicknell's Aussie opponent Tony Whackett boasts three Australian Masters Championship titles on his CV.
Aussie's 45-plus woman Sarah Nelson has had an impressive career. She has won five Australian Masters Championship titles since 2006 and one world masters title in the 40-plus age group in Christchurch in 2008. She has been runner-up in the world masters 45-plus on two occasions, once to Michelle Martin and once to another Aussie, Sarah Fitzgerald, who are international legends.
In addition to the test series, individual championships will be played from October 16-18 and teams championships from October 19-21. Players as young as 35 and old as 75 will be in action.
Several Hawke's Bay players are expected to be named in the Squash Eastern team next week.
Teams for the test series:
New Zealand: Kashif Shuja, Scott Gardiner, Willie Bicknell, Gary Duberly, Mark Waldin, Lawrence Skurr, Mikayla Kerr, Nadine Cull, Lisa Cowlard, Kathryn McKay, Karen Walton, Fred Walker.
Australia: Craig Brann, Jeff Bond, Tony Whackett, Warren Miller, Kelvin Smith, Michael Brown, Janelle Scobie, Sue Davis, Sarah Nelson, Sue Hillier, Tracey Partridge, Gaye Mitchell.