The NZ Junior Champs this year was held on the 2st – 23rd April, attracting over 190 Players from both New Zealand, Australia and further afield to the Cambridge Racquets Club and Leamington Squash Club to compete in the first National title of 2017.
Many of the players backed up for their second big tournament in a week, after competing in the Southern Cross Travel Insurance Oceania Junior Championships/Trans-Tasman Series with 3 of Waikato's juniors taking home medals (Sophie Hodges U13- Silver, Temwa Chileshe U15 - Bronze and Anika Jackson U19 - Bronze).
Seven courts were in use over the majority of the weekend and two St Peters courts were also used on Saturday, to get through the plethora of matches which were played. Finn Trimble from Whangarei Squash Club claimed the Boys Open final in a hard fought 4 setter against Aucklands Gabe Yam. Kaitlyn Watts from Palmerston North claimed her win in 3 over Auckland’s Anna Hughes. Watts and Trimble claim their second title in 2 weeks having won the Southern Cross Travel Insurance Under 19 Age Group titles over Easter weekend.
Notable mentions from the Waikato include Lwamba Chileshe (A2, Lugton Park Squash Club) who came in the top 8 and Anika Jackson, (A2, Hamilton Squash and Tennis Club) who came third overall. Selectors would have had their eyes on Jackson who at just age 15, played outstanding beating England player Ellie Jones 3 – 0 in the 3rd and 4th play-off.
Temwa Chileshe (A2, Lugton Park Squash Club) was unfortunate to meet championship finalist Gabe Yam (Auckland) who knocked him out in the second round. Georgia Robcke (B1, Thames) managed to make the plate final against one of the U 19 Australian Trans – Tasman girls, where even though beaten, earnt herself a final placing well ahead of her seed. Sophie Hodges (B1, Hamilton Squash and Tennis Club), had a tough feat who at just 11 years of age competed in the main draw at 28th seed with NZ’s best under 19 year old girls, giving it her all after a tough week prior representing NZ at the Oceania Champions/Trans- Tasman Series held at the Henderson Squash Club.
Of all the Juniors playing in the NZ Junior Open, 9 were from the Waikato with 5 girls (Anika Jackson, Georgia Robcke, Leah Hodges, Holly Keen-Oleary and Sophie Hodges) and 4 boys competing. The Chileshe brothers, Logan Webber (Matamata) and Liam McDonald (Te Awamutu) who competed in the main draw, which is very impressive and shows the players in the Waikato are getting stronger and stronger.