Whangārei squash player Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist triumphed over his on-court arch enemy - but favourite fishing companion – to win the AON New Zealand Junior Open at the end of April.
The 18-year-old, from Manaia Squash Club in Whangārei Heads, was ranked third in the country when he defeated second seed Joe Smythe, from the Bay of Plenty, in the trophy-deciding match.
"The final was a really tight game against one of my good mates. It was pretty satisfying to beat my arch enemy, he beat me last time," Vette-Blomquist said, before he added that Smythe was a good fishing buddy.
The tournament's status as the biggest national event in the country for juniors under-19 was a step-up, the Auckland University of Technology student said.
Vette-Blomquist already had an under-17 national title in the bag but said the open was more of a premiere event than his last national win.
The trophy for the three-day event, where competitors play a total of five games, is engraved with past winners who have carried on to prestigious squash successes – such as Kiwi Paul Coll, who is currently ranked fifth in the world.
The tournament is also the only national junior event, organised by Squash New Zealand, that seeds players solely on grade rather than age.
Vette-Blomquist credited his squash upbringing at Manaia Squash Club with a lot of the success he has experienced in the six years he has pursued the sport.
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Achievements that include competing in the 2019 World Junior Squash Championships in Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia.
"That has been my home club since I started playing – the whole way through starting at junior and up to now," he said. "I just want to give a big thank you to everyone for supporting me along the way."
Vette-Blomquist had a few days off after the tournament before getting back to work at the North Shore Squash Club – where he trains while studying paramedicine at the Auckland University of Technology.
He has his sights firmly set on the Auckland Open in a few weeks' time, followed by the Northland Open.
But much bigger goals are on his mind as he works to compete at the 2021 World Junior Squash Championships which were originally scheduled for August this year in Cairo, Egypt, but have been postponed due to Covid-19.
December will also see Vette-Blomquist compete for a top finish in the Oceania Championships.