Talented Hawke's Bay squash player Belle Kinnear is on a mission to reach A grade status by the age of 16.

"It's a goal uncle Waaka [Wellington-based former Hawke's Bay B grader Watene] and I have set," Havelock North D grader Kinnear explained.

The 12-year-old right hander believes some tips she picked up off Kiwi No 1 Joelle King and fellow multiple Commonwealth Games representative Tesni Evans during coaching sessions before their exhibition match at Napier's Hawke's Bay club last night will go a long way to helping her achieve that goal.

"We worked on driving the ball straight back out of the back corner and drop shots from the back of the court. We also had the opportunity to play rallies alongside both of them and they were both really nice," Belle said.


A Woodford House Year 8 student next term, Belle, a daughter of former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby first five-eighth Richard Kinnear, finished playing in the four-day Hawke's Bay Junior Open tennis tournament before attending last night's clinic.

The ease with which she switched from tennis to squash mode suggests she is on track to achieve A grade status and become a multiple Hawke's Bay representative like her father who also represented the province in cricket and golf.

"I only took up tennis this year because our grandparents have a court. When my older sister Molly decided to play in the Hawke's Bay Junior Open I thought I might as well too," Belle said.

She finished third in the under-14 consolation singles and under-12 consolation singles.

Belle and her sister were third in the under-14 doubles and fourth in the under-12 doubles consolation.

World No 6 King, 31, a beaten quarter-finalist in the last three world championships, and Welsh No 1 Evans, 27, are good friends.

Before last night's fixture in Napier the pair played an exhibition match in Hawera, the home town of Evans' partner Ben Murphy, earlier in the day before travelling to the Bay.

"Because of Tesni's relationship with Ben, Tesni, was the home town favourite in Hawera. The Taranaki hosts stitched Joelle up because when she got out to a 10-5 led in the fifth set they gave her a wooden racket from the 1970s. Joelle didn't get another point when she played with that racket," Squash Eastern board member Dean Remihana said.


Remihana, who organised the Bay visit, said there was a similar light-hearted touch to the fixture at the Hawke's Bay club.

"I was the referee and Ben [Murphy] was the marker. When either Joelle or Tesni asked for a let we asked the crowd for their view and whatever the loudest response was that was our decision."

Evans, who was ranked ninth in the world in November 2018, won the first set 11-8. King won the next two 13-11, 11-5 before Evans won the fourth 12-10.

King won the deciding fifth set 11-9.

Although it was an exhibition match both players still proved why the boast the CVs they do with the quality of play produced.

Youngsters like Belle could appreciate why King, who was ranked fourth in the world in April 2014, has won three gold medals, a silver and two bronze medals at Commonwealth Games level and Evans got bronze in the singles at last year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

While Evans and Murphy returned to Hawera today to prepare for Christmas King travelled to her home town of Cambridge for a break before heading to Perth for Christmas.

Their next major international tournament will be the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York from January 9-17.

Last night's match and coaching sessions were a fundraiser for Squash Eastern's junior programmes and attracted a crowd of 120 which Remihana was delighted with.