The inaugural meeting of the Waikato Squash Rackets Association was held on Tuesday, 25th May 1965, after a meeting of Waikato Club delegates in April that year tabled correspondence from the NZ Association with the wish that the Waikato S.R.A be formed, and to include the area ‘south of Auckland and north of Taupo’. The early days of the Waikato S.R.A, led by Ack Malcolm, Murray Day, and Alan Griffiths, amongst others, were instrumental in encouraging the formation of clubs and supporting them with the building of courts. In 1972, the clubs in the Bay of Plenty region encompassed by the Waikato S.R.A broke away and formed their own Association and governing body.
In the late 1980’s, Life Member Butch Gifford developed a portable Microcourt, which was eventually adopted by Squash NZ and other squash districts. Twelve years later, Mark Devoy, who as Squash Development Director had operated the court since the pilot project began, re-designed and re-created a new look Perspex Microcourt, and in 2007 a second court was added to the fleet. Around the same time, the district changed its name from the Waikato Squash Rackets Association to Squash Waikato Incorporated, to be in line with a Squash NZ re-branding.
After the appointment of Mark Devoy as the first Development Director, the strength of squash in the Waikato grew considerably. Junior Squash in particular, which had ebbed and flowed dependent on the people available to devote their time, became revitalised through the introduction of development squads, coaching, a junior grading list, and the Black Knight Ashaway player series. More schools began participating in competition programmes and our top juniors competed in the Oceania Age Group Championships. The junior scene was enhanced further in later years when the District employed Robbie Wyatt as its first part-time Coach.
The late 1990’s saw the Interclub competition change from fortnightly to weekly, and a Regional Development Programme covering Coaching, Refereeing, Kiwi Squash, Juniors & Squash in Schools was implemented.
The new Millenium saw three major changes – a new Constitution (which took two years to complete), a new governance structure (based on the knowledge that the District would be stronger if given the ability to search out the necessary skills and knowledge required, at any one time), and a new 5-year Strategic Plan. The Plan was based on building strong club culture, club development and support around growth, and a more professional approach by clubs.
The Plan very quickly identified that the Squash Waikato Board had to lead by example and this realisation led to the employment of a part-time manager in Vicky Fabling. The office based transferred from Morrinsville after 18 years, to the Hamilton Club and which remains the primary site to this day. Our SportsForce Development Officer is also based out of the Sport Waikato complex at Wintec. This has enabled our teams to interact with other sports and share resources.
Waikato is a very strong District which has produced large numbers of representative players, top coaches, top referees, and top administrators over the years. This strongly signals the great work that has been done, and is still happening to provide the pathways for squash players, administrators, and supporters in the game of squash we all love.