The annual Whanganui Squash Club Championships were held over the last two weeks with a strong turnout of 61 players have a crack at championships across multiple grades.

Doubles, masters and juniors events were contested in the first week, which was followed by the single graded matches, culminating in finals day and club prizegiving last Saturday.

Kent Darlington defended his Men's Open crown again, defeating Matt Ratcliffe in three sets, which mean's Darlington has now equalled Dennis Sharrock's 13 titles.

His focus shifted to the Central Masters in Feilding at the weekend, hoping for selection in the team heading to Timaru for the New Zealand Masters in October.


The Women's Open title again was also retained by Ngakuira Osborne, as she beat Laurie Hill 3/0 in a final that also doubled as the B Grade title.

Open champions Kent Darlington and Ngakuia Osborne at the recent prizegiving.
Open champions Kent Darlington and Ngakuia Osborne at the recent prizegiving.

Other matches of note included the Men's D Grade, where the third seed Shandon Scott upset top seed Lee Tuhiwai in the final.

Scott, a Wanganui rugby representative, rolled an ankle half way through, but toughed it out to eventually get there in four sets.

Sam Power, one of the club's promising juniors, continued his great year by winning the Men's E Grade title against a second seed he knew very well in his own father Matt Power, 15/5, 9/15, 15/5, 15/4.

Sam Power also took out the Junior Boys division, cementing his top seed by beating third seed Thor Darlington in that final.

Sam Power
Sam Power

The Women's D Grade saw a countback situation to determine the eventual winner.

Marama Cameron, Donna Harold and Steph Durning were all locked up with one win each, it was third seed Cameron who came out on top with a +12 points differential, ahead of Durning's -7 and Harold's -5.

There was also a minor upset in the Women's E Grade, when second seed Sharon Grant came back to defeat top seed Rose Cox in a close fought four-set match, 9/15, 15/13, 15/12, 15/6.


The Men's Veteran final saw a titanic battle between fourth seed Michael "Smudge" O'Connor and third seed Alistair White.

O'Connor dug deep to eventually win 15/13, 13/15, 15/12, 12/15, 15/9.

All the graded trophy winners will be able to enter the Central Districts Champion of Champions tournament against their regional counterparts in Inglewood, September 6-7.

The winners from there will enter the National Champion of Champions tournament later on in the year.

There were four doubles titles up for grabs, which continue to highly sort after every season.

In the Men's grade – D1 and above – singles finalists Ratcliffe and Darlington retained their title by beating Barry Touzel and Jared Perkins 3/1.

The Mixed title this year went to Osborne and Shane Stone, who as third seeds who won all their matches 3/0 and beat the top seeds in Darlington and Aria Bannister 3/1.

The Woman's Doubles title went to Osborne and Bannister as they beat the Hill and Pauline Slovak combination in a big five set match, 16/14, 11/15, 15/8, 14/16, 15/7.

The Mens D1 and below trophy was claimed by the top seeds Aaron Toy and Lee Tuhiwai.
Two annual club awards were given out at the prizegiving.

The Best All Round Club Member went to Josh Haapu, for all the countless hours put in behind the scenes work at the club and the bar area role The The The Achievers Award went to Bannister, as the young junior moved from E2 to C1 on the grading list, climbing over a whopping 800 points.

Bannister also won Best Junior Girl and the Most Improved Junior Girl on the night.

She is currently ranked No 6 in the New Zealand Under 13 girls August for August.

Bannister won the Under 13 South Island title as a 11-year-old in her first year competing at that age group, while earlier in the year she won the Central Districts Junior Girls Under 15 title and was runner-up in the U13 Girls.

Aria Bannister.
Aria Bannister.

The Most Promising Junior award – chosen on qualities like attitude, determination, guts, and passion – went to a worthy Mac O'Connor.

O'Connor also took out the Best J Grade Boy trophy, while Harper Bannister won the Best J Grade Girl.

Sam Power won the Best Junior Boy cup also took out the Most Improved Junior Boy trophy.

He was the Central Junior Under 17 Boys winner from fourth seed, beating all three of his competitors for the title, remarkable considering the year before he was just starting out in the sport.

The club had a number of representative honours for the year as Darlington, Ratcliffe, Osborne and juniors Aria Bannister and Max Matthews were part of Central teams competing against Waikato, Wellington and Eastern Districts, where Central swept all the titles on offer.

Ratcliffe and Osbourne have also been selected to represent Central at New Zealand Senior National teams event in Christchurch coming up this week.

Open – Winner: Kent Darlington; Runnerup: Matt Ratcliffe. B Grade – Winner: Matt Ratcliffe; Runnerup: Brett McKenzie. C Grade – Winner: Shane Stone; Runnerup: David Grant; Plate: Ross Kinnerley. D Grade - Winner: Shandon Scott; Runnerup: Lee Tuhiwai; Classic Plate: Glenn Toy; Special Plate: Sam Power; Plate: Max Mathews; Consolation Plate: No contest. E Grade – Winner: Sam Power; Runnerup: Matt Power; Plate: Thor Darlington. F Grade –Winner: Kees Robbertsen; Runnerup: Mac O'Connor.

Open & B Grade – Winner: Ngakuira Osborne; Runnerup: Laurie Hill. C Grade – Winner: Pauline Slovak; Runnerup: Aria Bannister. D Grade – Winner: Marama Cameron; Runnerup: Donna Harold. E Grade – Winner: Sharon Grant; Runner Up: Rose Cox.

Men – Winner: Kent Darlington; Runnerup: David Grant. Women – Winner: Pauline Slovak; Runnerup: Daena Peters.

Men – Winner: Michael O'Connor; Runnerup: Alistair White.

Girls – Winner: Aria Bannister; Runnerup: Harper Bannister. Boys – Winner: Sam Power; Runnerup: Thor Darlington. Classic Plate: Max Matthews. Special Plate: Ethan Darlington. Plate: Jaiden Toy. Consolation Plate: Luke Heerdegen.

Mens – Houia Cup (D1 & Above) Winners: Kent Darlington, Matt Ratcliffe; Runnerup: Barry Touzel, Jared Perkins. Classic Plate: McKenzie, Scott. Special Plate: John Rostenburg, Paul Kenny. Plate: Kevin Austin, Mark Tunbridge. Consolation Plate: Vance Wilson, Josh Haapu. Presidents Cup (D1 & Below) Winner: Tuhiwai, Aaron Toy; Runnerup: Michael O'Connor, Ritchie Campbell. Womens – Hawea Cup Winner: Osborne, Bannister; Runnerup: Hill, Slovak.

Mixed Doubles
Mair Cup — Winner: Osborne, Stone; Runnerup: Kent Darlington, Bannister.