Awards Night a Success

The annual Squash Central Awards/Dinner was held at the Whanganui Squash Club on Saturday night, saw a bumper crowd attend to see out the year by acknowledging the winners throughout the district for 2017.  With 90+ attendees,  it was fantastic to see people together to congratulate the talent there is around the Central District and this was evident in the number of nominees which were up from 35 (2016) to 47 this year.  


A special award was given out on the night, that being a Life Membership to Grant Smith, currently the Palmerston North Mayor, for his dedication he has given to Squash Central over a span of 30 odd years.  Smith was a decent Junior back in his day playing for Central in the 80’s and was part of the impressive 84’ Central Junior team that won the NZ Teams title beating Wellington in the process.  In 83’ and 84’ he was in National Development Squads and made the NZ Development Selection team that played the Australia Junior Mens team in 85’.  He got as high as No.2 in the District Senior Rankings, was part of the Central Triangular teams that battled Wellington and Hawkes Bay/Gisborne for 8yrs and played for the Central Senior Mens team at the NZ Nationals for 7yrs.  Smith is well known for his roles in Administration and held the Marketing Director and President Roles at Central for a total of 7yrs also.  He has been Event Director at the 2006 World Junior Boys Champs and the 2010 World Women’s Teams Champs, both held at Palmerston North.  Smith has won the Sport Manawatu Administrator of the Year 4 times 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and was awarded a Special award for Long Service of Sport in 2011.  In 2004 and 2013  he won the NZ Squash Chairman’s Award which was in recognition of outstanding contribution to Squash.  Smith is still on the NZ Squash Hall of Fame board and was one of the founding committee members which started it in 2009.  A man who did a lot of roles outside of Squash Central but with the Central colours underneath his shirt and the Squash District has certainly reaped his benefits.


Central players were also in the mix picking up World and National titles throughout the year.  Kashif Shuja (SquashGym Palmerston North ) won the World Masters Gold Medal in the 35-39 yr age Group. The Central Junior Girls team won the Junior Inter-district Teams title.  At the NZ Junior Individuals event Anabel Romero-Gemmell (SquashGym Palmerston North) and Reece Homes (Hawera) both won the NZ U11s.  Kaitlyn Watts (SquashGym Palmerston North) took the U19 trophy at the same event and also won the NZ Junior Open title.  Watts again was in the mix as she paired up with Shuja to win the NZ Doubles Mixed title.  The Palmerston North Girls Team won the NZ Secondary Schools Title, the Hawera D Grade Ladies Team took out the National D Grade Super Champs title and the Central team won the National Champion of Champions team trophy.  Four players also won Individual National Champion of Champion Grade titles, A Grade Women - Courtney Trail (SquashGym Palmerston North), B Grade Women – Gina Bailey (SquashGym Palmerston North), C Grade Women – Sarah Ratcliffe (RiverCity Squash Club) and F Grade Men – Eddy Henry.


Four Central Players were ranked No 1 nationally in their respective age groups.  Romero-Gemmell and Holmes in the U11s, Watts in the U17s and Shuja in the 35-39 Master Age Group.


Special mention goes to a couple of Central’s Juniors that won awards.  The young Reece Holmes (Hawera) who took out the Most Improved Junior award.  Holmes who is just 10 yrs of age, is the Central U11 and U13 champ, North and South U11 winner but more impressively the NZ U11 champ.  He has shown he has got the commitment, determination and self-drive of someone many years older.  In the past 12 months he has moved from E2 to D1.  


Also impressive was SquashGym Palmerston North’s Kaityln Watts who took out the Player of the Year award and continues her rise in the sport.  This year she got to her A1 grading at the age of just 16.  She was selected to represent NZ in the 2017 World Junior Champs in Tauranga and played #1 in the team which place 8th overall.  At the same event in the individual competition she finished in the top 16.  She won the Australasian Junior tournament, the Australian Junior Open title and as mentioned the NZ Doubles Mixed  Champs.  Watts was #1 for the Central Senior Women’s team in the NZ Teams event where they were placed 3rd and in the NZ Individual champs she keep her seeding of 4th in NZ at Senior level.  Watts will be busy over the Christmas break as she heads overseas for a month to the USA and British Junior Opens to test herself against the worlds best.


A couple of other awards that are the heart of Squash in the region were the Volunteer Contributer to Squash and the Club of the Year awards.  


Mike and TeArani Davie from the Waitara Squash Club took out the Volunteer Contributor to Squash trophy. They were a couple that came to the club never having played the game before and got themselves involved by both joining the committee at a time when the club was unsure of its future.  They brought buckets loads of enthusiasm and in this past year they both took the roles of club captains.  Along with doing a host of other jobs whether it’s was on the court or off the court, winning or losing the pair were always positive and giving it their all.  Not only have they been awesome volunteers but they are great role models for excellent sportsmanship.  Their positivity and enthusiasm for the club and for squash rubs off on the everyone and people can’t help but feel motivated by these two.  The Waitara club conceded it would be lost without their positive energy and can-do attitudes.  


The Club of the Year award when to the Inglewood Squash Club.  The proud South Taranaki Club has continued to increase its membership through the year.  During the year many club activities have been organised, involving all grades and ages.  Two club nights a week, two sponsored interclub type team challenges, two ‘B Grade and Below tournaments’ and a Sunday Junior Prince Tournament just to name a few.  They helped out fellow New Plymouth club, Kawaroa Park during the NZ Masters which they hosted and also held the Squash Central Champion of Champions tournament which saw them host to about 60+ players from around the Central areas.  This year to improve their facilities a grant of approx. $20,000.00 was received with the club adding approximately $6000.00 to the amount to complete the job of removing old pinex.  They also held on May 6th their 40 years celebrations with 141 visitors from all around NZ enjoying a buffet meal, speeches, drinks and lots of reminiscing.


Winners on the Night were:

Coach of the Year

Donna Wilson Trophy

Doug Croukamp

Ashhurst-Pohangina Squash Club


Personality of the Year

Barb & Mike Jack Trophy

Melville Homes

Hawera Squash Club


Team of the Year

Central Squash Trophy

Hawera D Grade Ladies



Most Improved Junior

Sansom Family Trophy

Reece Holmes

Hawera Squash Club


Most Improved Senior Player

Paula & Kent Darlington Trophy

Josh Hooper

Taihape Squash Club


Services to Womens Masters

Lois Mill Tray

Marilyn Dolan

Foxton Squash Club


Services to Mens Masters

Merv & Jean Tapp Trophy

Kashif Shuja

SquashGym Palmerston North


Player of the Year

Central Squash Trophy

Kaitlyn Watts

SquashGym Palmerston North


Administrator of the Year

Sharren & Warren Patterson Trophy

Sheryl Hooper

Taihape Squash Club


Volunteer Contributor to Squash

Central Squash Trophy

Mike & TeArani Davie

Waitara Squash Club


Club of the Year

Carson Family Trophy

Inglewood Squash Club