Bay of Plenty Squash players have made their mark at a national level, claiming a trio of titles at the New Zealand Junior National Age Group Squash Championships.
Bay of Plenty teams qualify for National Super Champs.
National title for Bay women's team
Bay players who helped New Zealand win their eighth Trans-Tasman comp
New Zealand junior representative, Katikati's Glenn Templeton secured the under-19 Boys' title at the champs in Auckland at the weekend, while nine-year-old Edgecumbe player Zezima Waitai won the under-11 Boys' title. Maiya Hotham from Putaruru, who plays for Squash Bay of Plenty, won the under-11 Girls' title.
For Waitai it was all about maintaining composure.
"I am happy with the win and I had to keep my head together. I kept thinking if the other player gets the point I have to get it back," he said.
Waitai says he has a good team behind him.
"I love squash, I have playing since I was four. I would like to win some more. I want to thank Edgecumbe Squash, Mum and Dad and Nan and Poppa – they were a bit part of me winning."
That family support is well portrayed through his father and coach Campbell Vercoe, who agreed it was Waitai's composure that played a big part in his victory.
"He did awesome, mostly he kept his head strong and stayed focused. You have to be mentally strong to win a final like that and he is pretty driven. He trained three to four times a week and all that hard work paid off.
"It [the pressure] doesn't worry him at all. It was the biggest win of his squash career, but he is a quietly excited kind of person."
For Templeton winning the title is another triumph in a great year, which also included representing New Zealand at the World Junior Champs in Malaysia earlier this year. This was his fifth junior national title and Templeton says he prepared well.
"This is one of my top achievements, alongside being in the worlds team. I was relieved to win, I was a bit nervous before the final but when I got into the game I was fine."
At nearly two-metres tall, Templeton used all of that to his advantage.
"On the backhand volley is where I dominate most, going off the front foot. I had that game plan going in, it suits my height. I had to make sure I stayed in front.
"I was up in Auckland before the tournament, playing in PSA tournaments and training.
"Having that game time playing pros gave me harder games to build up for nationals. I stuck to my game plan and feel like I am fitter and stronger on the court. It just felt like everything was going well."
Templeton was also named New Zealand's most improved junior male for 2019 at the prizegiving. Templeton is still in Auckland to play in the inter-district teams event, alongside Manaia Murphy-Fell, Taylor Bettelheim, Joe Smythe and Jack Niles. The Bay girls' team includes Manaia Peeti, Anika Russell, Ella Hill, Emma Merson and Jaime Mitchinson.
The teams event concludes today and there is little rest for Templeton who also plays in a pro tournament in Auckland, which he will being playing in today at the conclusion of the teams event.
Squash Bay of Plenty winners New Zealand Junior National Age Group Champs:
1st boys' U19: Glenn Templeton, Katikati.
1st boys' U11: Zezima Waitai, Edgecumbe.
1st girls' U11: Maiya Hotham, Putaruru.