Northland's young squash players have made their mark on the national stage with a number of top 10 finishes at the national junior individual competition which ended on Sunday.
A standout in the Northland strip was Whangārei Boys' High School student Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist who took out the under-17 boys' division, winning in four sets over Auckland's Jack Conder in the final at the National Squash Centre in Auckland.
Playing as the top-seeded player for the first time at nationals, Vette-Blomquist managed to get through his four games to take out the title, but not without some nerves along the way.
"It was definitely a lot of pressure having to maintain that seeding," he said.
"In the last game it got pretty close, it was pretty tight the whole way through and it wasn't until the last couple of points when I managed just to push through luckily."
The 16-year-old's win was the latest success in a great year after he was picked for a six-strong New Zealand junior boys squash team who played in Malaysia earlier this year at the World Junior Squash Championships where he won four out of seven games.
Vette-Blomquist wasn't the only Northlander to earn a spot on the podium as Zac Laing, 10, made it to the final of the under-11 boys where he put up a great fight but eventually went down in four very tight sets to Bay of Plenty's Zezima Waitai.
Six other Northland players featured in the top 10 in their respective divisions. Annmarie Holst finished fifth in the under-19 girls, Shea Ferguson finished seventh in the under-17 girls, Chelsea Traill finished seventh in under-15 girls, Josh Laing finished eighth in the under-13 boys, Cam Griffin finish 10th in the under-15 boys and Tane Traill finished 10th in the under-13 boys.
The group had little time to rest after the four-day individual tournament as on Monday, the Inter-District Junior Teams Championships began for Northland's boys and girls teams.
Both the boys (Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist, Devlin Gurr, Maz Saunders, Flynn Venmore, Cam Griffin) and the girls (Annmarie Holst, Shea Ferguson, Pippa Saunders, Chelsea Traill, Tamara Marshall) were seeded seventh out of nine teams at the three-day competition.
Coached by Nicol Bekker and Paul Hornsby, both teams improved on their seedings to finish sixth. The Northland boys team had three losses against Canterbury, Auckland and Eastern but beat Midlands to give the side a chance at a top four finish.
"That was our goal, both the boys and the girls goal moving into [the competition] was to beat our seeding and we both did that so pretty happy with that," Vette-Blomquist said.
Former Northland player Natalie Sayes also saw success last weekend as she won the under-17 girls division in four sets as the first seed.