Whanganui Squash Club hosted the Squash Central Awards last weekend with the largest number of nominations in several years from around the territory.

In total, 42 nominations from New Plymouth, Ohakune, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Dannevirke, Tararua and Levin meant every category was filled up, covering achievements from October 31, 2017 through to September 30 of this year.

Three of the winners – the Club, Volunteer and Coach of the Year will now go forward for the Squash NZ Awards being held in Auckland this weekend.

From the locals, Whanganui's national champion David Grant won the Paula & Kent Darlington Trophy for Most Improved Senior Player.


In his report on the awards, Kent Darlington said Grant had a massive year, moving through D Grade and into C Grade, having a 100 per cent winning rate for all 24 matches played.

"He competed at the Central Districts Champion of Champions event and then represented Central at the National Champion of Champions in Ohakune, where he won both D grade titles.

"He also took out the Whanganui club champs C and D grade cups."

The Merv & Jean Tapp Trophy for Men's Masters went to Whanganui veteran Rod Bannister.

Bannister won the 2018 New Zealand Doubles Title for the Mens 50+ grade in Auckland at the start of the year.

"He represented Central at the Newbigin Shield One Day Senior fixture and NZ Masters individuals and teams in Tauranga where he earned a No3 placing in the individuals," said Darlington.

"He continues to coach and manage Central Senior teams with a passion and is still representing the district amongst team members 30 years his junior."

Rod Bannister with the Services to Men's Masters award.
Rod Bannister with the Services to Men's Masters award.

Squashgym Palmerston North's talented teenager Kaitlyn Watts became the 13th inductee for the Central Hall of Fame, on the same night as she won the Player of the Year award.


New Zealand's No1 ranked junior with a world ranking of 117, Watts went to the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in OCtober, and also represented the country at the Junior World Championships in Chennai.

Watts stepped up to the Senior Women's team at the World Championships in China, where they came eighth.

It was also announced at the awards ceremony that next year's Central vs Squash Waikato senior matchup will be for the new "Leevey Shield".

The Shield has been donated by former Commonwealth Games and World Doubles medallist Tamsyn Leevey and her family, who has strong ties with both districts.

Leevey started out as a junior in Taumarunui, representing Waikato, and now lives in New Plymouth, playing out of the Kawaroa Park club, from where she was part of the Central Senior team who won the 2016 NZ National Women's team title.

Squash Central Awards Winners:

Referee of the Year: Mike Jack (Kawaroa Park).

Services to Masters – Women's: Kaye Carter (Kawaroa Park); Men's: Rod Bannister (Whanganui).

Most Improved Junior: Anabel Romero-Gemmell (Squashgym).

Coach of the Year: Pete Arnott (Tararua).

Most Improved Senior Player: David Grant (Whanganui).

Administrator of the Year: Caroline Kuklinski (Hawera Tennis & Squash).

Volunteer Contributor to Squash: Melville Holmes (Hawera Tennis & Squash).

Personality for the Year: Allan Bailey (Squashgym).

Team of the Year: 2017 Central Junior Girls.

Player of the Year: Kaitlyn Watts (Squashgym).

Club of the Year: Kawaroa Park.

Hall of Fame Inductee: Kaitlyn Watts (Squashgym).