The pinnacle of Bay of Plenty squash will play out at Devoy Squash and Fitness Centre this weekend.
The Pak'nSave Bay of Plenty Open squash tournament begins on Friday night and will include 160 players contesting titles from J to A grade. More than 80 come from the Western Bay of Plenty and six from Rotorua's Geyser City Squash Club, including third seed Camden Te Kani-McQueen competing in the open women's division.
On top of the local talent, the tournament has attracted top players from around the country.
Squash Bay of Plenty regional manager Marcus Niles said it is one of the best quality draws the tournament has seen.
"This is our pinnacle event and we have added a PSA satellite status to the tournament, which will have players chasing PSA [Professional Squash Association] points. We also have $7500 in prizemoney across the whole event.
"The club [Devoy] is one of the best in the country in terms of facilities and we have a history of running good events in the Bay of Plenty," Niles said.
Tauranga is no stranger to big events and will also host the 2021 Men's World Teams Squash Championships.
This weekend, there will be national-level referees and an army of nearly 50 volunteers behind the tournament.
"Players' expectations are higher at the top level and it is the little things that the players appreciate," Niles said.
"It is making sure games are on time, there is good food and that they are looked after as much as they can be."
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The men's draw includes 17 A grade players with New Zealand No 3 Evan Williams, also ranked 102 in the world, as the top seed. Williams is a three-time Bay of Plenty Open champion.
Tauranga 17-year-old Glenn Templeton is the ninth seed and is building towards the World Junior Championships in Malaysia in July.
"Having such a good draw at my local club is great as it means I get the kind of matches I need to take the next step in my game," Glenn said.
The top seed in the women's draw is defending champion Hamilton player Emma Millar and the 27-year-old is looking forward to playing at the Tauranga club.
"It is close and I trained out of Devoy for a couple of years. It is quite a homely club and one it is nice to be a part of. Being a satellite event is a driving factor as well as getting some play in ahead of upcoming events."
The primary school teacher said playing at this level requires strict time management.
"At the moment for me it is juggling fulltime work with coaching and trying to play. It is finding time to play and put time into my squash and enjoying that aspect of my game. School is my escape from the sport side of my life."
Millar is also in somewhat of a recovery period. She was out for the better part of eight months in the past year after enduring recurring symptoms from a concussion she suffered in 2017 and after taking time away from the game, had to deal with Achilles tendonitis.
She came back to win the Eastern Bay Open in Whakatāne in mid-March, which was just her second event of the season. Since then she hasn't taken on too much but won the Waikato Open last week.
"This year is about playing the New Zealand season and playing nationals. I would like to play a few Australian PSA tournaments as well but it is really just getting myself into position and getting my body right. It is day-to-day with how the body is feeling and how hard you can push it.
"At the moment it is what is best for my overall health. I want to get right for next year to go and play overseas tournaments to lift my ranking and make the New Zealand women's team. The bigger picture is the Commonwealth Games in 2022."
The Bay of Plenty Open begins on Friday night. After playing through three rounds, the final will be played on Sunday afternoon.
Bay of Plenty Open:
Devoy Squash and Fitness Centre