New Zealand and Australia's rivalry in sports spreads across many codes and has done so for many years. This week, that Trans-Tasman rivalry was seen and felt in Tauranga as part of the annual Trans-Tasman Secondary School Squash Series. The competition is an annual event that sees New Zealand's top secondary school squash players battle it out with those from Queensland, New South Wales and a combined Australian team. While there was plenty of talent on display and some close matches between the countries, it wasn't enough to break New Zealand's eight year winning streak.
After five days of competition New Zealand's top secondary school squash players have once again proven they are stronger than their Australian rivals, winning the Trans-Tasman Secondary School Squash Series for the eighth year in a row.
Tauranga's Devoy Squash and Fitness hosted the annual competition, which sees selected New Zealand Secondary School players take on players from New South Wales and Queensland in individual and doubles competitions. Instead of playing for individual points, players play for team points and hosting duties are shared between the two countries.
For the eight years since the tournament started New Zealand has won every series and this week's Trans-Tasman battle ended with the same result.
New Zealand team manager and competition organiser Aaron Webb said there were three competitions within the series - interstate singles and doubles competitions between New Zealand, Queensland and New South Wales and a test between New Zealand and a combined Australian team.
The New Zealand team is selected from players nominated based on their performances at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships, which were held earlier this month.
Among those selected were three Western Bay of Plenty players - Tauranga Boys' College's Joe Smythe and Taylor Bettelheim in the Senior Boys' and Katikati College's Katie Templeton in the Senior Girls' teams. All three locals won their final games against Australian representatives yesterday.
"It's the pinnacle of secondary school squash," Webb said.
This year was Joe's second competing in the Trans-Tasman competition and went through unbeaten as an individual, winning all seven matches. He said being able to play on his home courts was a highlight.
"We've done pretty good. It's been cool, especially at the club I play at, you know what the courts are going to do," Joe said.
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The 15-year-old, who found squash about nine years ago through his father who played socially, said there was a lot of talent from both countries on show during the five days with the highlight being experience international competition in the sport.
Taylor, 18, won six of his seven individual games during the event, and enjoyed his first experience at the series.
"I thought it was a good opportunity to represent the country."
Western Bay squash players:
Joe Smythe (Tauranga Boys') - Senior Boys.
Taylor Bettelheim (Tauranga Boys') - Senior Boys.
Katie Templeton (Katikati College) - Senior Girls.