2018 Awards Dinner

The annual Squash Central Awards were held last weekend at the Whanganui Squash Club to wrap up the years fantastic achievements across the District (criteria period from 31st Oct 2017 - 31st Sept 2018).  Covering all the districts territory from New Plymouth to Ohakune through to Dannevirke, Tararua and Levin. It was the first in many years that all categories were filled up.  A total of 42 nominations were submitted from the clubs, showing that there are some fantastic people doing wonderful
things for the sport of Squash in the region.  Three of the winners, the Club, Volunteer and Coach of the Year will now go forward for the Squash NZ
Awards which are being held in Auckland this weekend.

Hall of Fame Inductee and Player of the Year Central Squash Trophy - Kaitlyn Watts - Squashgym Palmerston North - A special award was announced on the night and that was young Kaitlyn Watts from Squashgym Palmerston North who was inducted into the Central Hall of Fame.  Along with that she also took out the Player of the Year award. Watts has had huge year competing all over the world.  She currently has a world ranking of 117 and is the #1 ranked NZ Junior along with #3 in the Senior Rankings.  This year she was sent as NZ's representative to the Youth Olympics in October and also represented NZ at the Junior Worlds in Chennai.  It was however her selection in the NZ Senior Women's team that went to the World champs in China this year that earned her the right to join the exclusive club and be the 13th person inducted.  Watts was part of the team with Joelle King (Waikato), Amanda Landers-Murphy (Bay of Plenty) and Abbie Palmer (Auckland).  They were seeded 7th and advanced through pool play to the quarters where they played the power house Egyptian team, losing 2-1. Eventually they ended up in 8th spot but Watts got a taste of what it's like to play at that top level as she came up against some top 10 players in the world, all very exciting for a 17 year old!

Another special announcement was the introduction next year of the "Leevey Shield" which will see a Shield put up for grabs when the Central Senior side take on its counterpart Squash Waikato in its annual Senior Rep One Day fixture.  The Shield is being donated by Tamsyn Leevey and her family who have strong ties with both districts.  Leevey a former Commonwealth and WorldDoubles medallist started out as a Junior in Taumarunui and along with her family were a big part of the local Squash scene.  She represented Waikato as a Junior and now in her later years as she lives in New Plymouth, playing out of the Kawaroa Park Club, has also represented the Central Senior team, being part of the winning team back in 2016 that took out the NZ National Women's team title.  The clash which will be into its 5th year in 2019 will have the shield unveiled at the event (scheduled for Kawaroa Park) and will no doubt see a legacy left along with adding longevity and purpose to the
annual fixture.

Squash Central Awards Winners:

Referee of the Year - Acknowledgement Award - Mike Jack - Kawaroa Park Squash Club - Mike Jack from Kawaroa Park took out the Referee of the Year award and was acknowledged for his tremendous work he does in this area.  This year he has been assessing 3 potential Central District referees and has done a huge amount of work with them.  He was the appointed Tournament referee for the Palmerston North PSA in June and refereed at the Senior Nationals and North Island Junior Age Groups.  Mike is also on the N.Z Squash referees Panel which oversees appointments and ongoing performance of referees and he has a passion for the sport which is a huge asset to Kawaroa Park and to the Central District. 

Services to Womens Masters - Lois Mills Tray - Kaye Carter - Kawaroa Park Squash Club - Kaye competed and won the Central Masters this year at
Inglewood.  She was again selected for the Central Masters Rep team that attended the NZ National Masters in Tauranga.  She was also part of the
Kawaroa Park B grade women's team that competed at the Superchamps Nationals. On the court she is also busy coaching, in particular many ladies
and Juniors, as a results her clubs numbers are growing.  She helps the District Coach with the running of the Taranaki Zone Squad which is aimed at
up and coming players just below the HP level.  

Services to Mens Masters - Merv & Jean Tapp Trophy - Rod Bannister - Whanganui Squash Club -  Rod won the 2018 NZ Doubles Title - Mens 50+ in Auckland at the start of the year.  He represented Central at the Newbigin Shield One Day Senior fixture, NZ Masters individuals and teams in Tauranga where he earned a #3 placing in the individuals.  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! 

Most Improved Junior - Sansom Family Trophy - Anabel Romero-Gemmell - Squashgym Palmerston North - Anabel has had a fantastic year where she
finished it off in great fashion by taking out the NZ U13 title at the Junior Nationals.  Her movement on the grading list for the year was huge as
she climbed from E1 to B2.  It was at the National Junior event where she was able to withstand the pressure of playing two older and higher ranked
players, beat them both in 5 - therefore win the U13's as an 11 year old. She also was awarded Most Improved Junior at the event - the youngest player to ever win this award.  

Coach of the Year - Donna Wilson Trophy - Pete Arnott - Tararua -  Through his passion for squash coaching, particularly in the areas of technique, movement and psychology, a signature imprint is coming through in his players that you can tell which players Peter has been working with on a regular basis.  In the districts Prince Junior Squash Series 7 out of 16 highest points earners for the series were coached by Peter Arnott.  He coached Brody Bennett to reach the Boys U11 final in the NZ National Junior Age Group Championships this year.  Peter coaches about 20 players on a weekly or fortnightly basis.  His motto is "that no child should miss out, especially due to financial reasons". It truly demonstrates Pete's aspirations and passion for Squash and his enthusiasm and passion for the sport is second to none. 

Most Improved Senior Player - Paula & Kent Darlington Trophy - David Grant - Whanganui -  David had a massive year moving through D Grade and into C Grade, having 100% win 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 & D Grade Cups. 

Administrator of the Year - Sharon & Warren Patterson Trophy - Caroline Kuklinski - Hawara Tennis & Squash Club -  Caroline has been involved with the Hawera Squash Club for the last 16 years.  She is currently the Secretary for the club.  When tournaments or championships are run, Caroline spends all her spare time helping with coordinating the events.  In the past 12 months she has been fully involved and committed and was an integral part of the running of an exhibition match which brought two Commonwealth games players to Hawera.  She is a keen squash player and tennis player and has been a team captain for both Tennis and Squash, more than anything she is like an "unofficial club manager". 

Volunteer Contributor to Squash - Central Squash Trophy - Melville Holmes - Hawera Tennis & Squash Club -  Melville has been involved with the Hawera Lawn Tennis and Squash Club for many years and is currently the Men's Squash Captain.  He is a keen player himself but most importantly in his role he takes on more than what a full time job could offer all for his passion for the sport.  Amongst organising business house squash, interclub squash, tournaments and championships Melville organised and ran an exhibition match with Lance Beddoes Management at Hawera which was a sell-out.  It was such an outstanding evening that he has been approached again as a first option to run another exhibition match between Paul Coll (World #8) and Diego Elias (World #12) in December, which only 5 exhibitions will be played throughout the whole of New Zealand.  Melville also managed the C Grade Men's team in the Central Superchamps along with running the clubs Squash Open which he has done for many years in a row.  If he isn't running around sorting teamsand games, he's continuing to get sponsorship and members.  

Personality for the Year - Barb & Mike Jack Trophy - Allan Bailey - Squashgym Palmerston North -  Allan is a familiar face around the District and NZ.  His values, vibrant personality, and the way he carries himself on and off the court, and his overall general manner with people is exceptional.  Amongst his many outstanding traits is the time and energy he spends on court with the younger juniors.  At the end of every tournament you will find Allan down on a court hitting with any child of any age and
ability.  Allan's smile is contagious and it is very challenging to find the motivation to get fired up against him on the squash court.  His on-court demeanour is calm and composed with the odd cheeky grin to win the crowds over.  On the court Allan has represented Central at the Newbigin shield, Senior Nationals, B Grade Nationals and was also selected and played for the first NZ University Team this year that travelled to the UK.  Allan has played a total of 86 games - that is close to 30 weekends of squash tournaments this year!

Team of the Year - Central Squash Trophy - Central Junior Girls 2017 Team - The team won for their efforts after they took out the title at the Christchurch event at the end of 2017.  They were seeded 1st at the event and went one step better than the previous year to take out the National title by beating Waikato (2nd seeds) in the final 3/0.  This is the first time Squash Central have won this title since 2005, and it was a great reward for many of the girls who have been in the team for the last 2/3 years.  The Girls team consisted of Kaitlyn Watts, Courtney Trail, Annalesie
Faint, Genevieve Bell (all SquashGym) and Tia Pauro (Hawera).

Club of the Year - Carson Family Trophy - Kawaroa Park Squash Club -  The Club has had an outstanding year this year and hosted a national squash event for the third consecutive year.  Membership numbers have soared this year to a credible 336 members, up 17% from the 2017 season (288). Broken down further, the club has seen a 17% increase in graded members and an astonishing 34% increase in the number of Junior members.  They also had a team in every division of the district Superchamps, a total of 10 full teams in every grade of both men's and women's divisions.  Further to this, 9 of the 10 teams finished in the top three (2 in third place, 6 runner's up and 1 outright winner).  They had good numbers at their B grade and Open tournaments and the club also hosted 16 teams from around the nation for the National B Grade Superchamps and the district B grade Superchamps 5 weeks prior to this.  They continue to have a strong ladder league interclub competition with 60-80 entrants, fortnightly club nights which can attract up for 40 people and also two full rounds off business house squash where teams play in a 6 week competition.