How much will the home crowd advantage be worth to Hawke's Bay squash player Winona-Jo Joyce during the North Island junior age group championships?
"I'm hoping the home crowd will get behind me. I've got a point to prove," Havelock North A2 grader Joyce said as she pondered the 128-player tournament which will be played at her club as well as the Hastings Tennis and Squash Club on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The 18-year-old was a member of the New Zealand team at last year's world junior teams champs in Chennai, India but was only named as a non-travelling reserve for next month's world champs in Malaysia.
"It was quite disappointing to miss out. If I can reach the under-19 final on Monday that would help erase some of that disappointment," Joyce said.
One of 13 players in her age group, left hander Joyce, is seeded second behind Waikato's Anika Jackson. Another Waikato player, Georgia Robcke, is the third seed and both Jackson and Robcke will travel to Malaysia. Auckland A2 graders Annemarie Holst and Lowri Waugh will add to the quality in the under-19 girls draw.
"I know I've got to improve each aspect of my play and it would be good to win the North Island under-19 title here at home as I've never won it," Joyce said.
The pack house worker for Rockit Global Limited has won the North Island under-17 title as well as the South Island under-17 and under-19 titles in the past. Last year Joyce missed out on the opportunity to retain her South Island under-19 title as she was in India but will have the chance to win it back when she plays in next week's South Island age group champs in Christchurch.
The Tecnifibre-Focus Health Havelock North-Pay to Play-sponsored Joyce will return to Christchurch as a member of the Eastern team for the August 30-September 1 national senior teams champs. Last year's Oceania under-17 champion, Joyce, will be one of 28 Squash Eastern players in action this weekend and along with the under-19 boys and girls titles, under-17, under-15, under-13 and under-11 titles will also be up for grabs.
Thirty of New Zealand's top juniors will be missing this weekend as they will be competing at the Malaysian Junior Open.
Gisborne A1 grader Willz Donnelly, who has been selected in the New Zealand junior boys team for Malaysia is the second seed in the under-19 boys division. WaikatoA1 grader Temwa Chileshe is the top seed and Gisborne A2 grader Kahn Grayson the third seed.
Northland's Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist from the Manaia club, another member of the New Zealand junior boys team for next month's world championships, is the No 1 seed in the under-17 boys division.
Another Auckland A grader Ella Lash is the under-15 girls top seed.
Wellingtonian Oliver Dunbar is the No 1 seed in the under-13 boys division. He is the son of former Hawke's Bay player Debbie McCarthy and former nationally ranked Wellington representative Steve Dunbar.
Play starts at both venues at 11.40am today. The under-19 finals will be at 3pm (girls) and 3.40pm (boys) on Monday at the Havelock North club. Matches will be live streamed from court four in Havelock North and court three in Hastings on Sunday and all the main finals will be streamed live on Monday from Havelock North's court four.