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Club pride is on the line this weekend in Palmerston North as the national squash Cousins Shield and Mitchell Cup take place at the SquashGym Club.
Both competitions have plenty of history and plenty of top players taking part in the 2019 edition of the event.
The Cousins Shield men’s competition has 12 teams. The top seeded club is Lugton Park in Hamilton with the Chileshe brothers, Lwamba and Temwa as well as 2018 Commonwealth Games team member, Zac Millar and Finn Trimble the fourth of the A graded players in the side.
Second seeds are Hutt valley with New Zealand No.3 and also Commonwealth Games player Evan Williams top ranked alongside Scott Galloway and Jonathan Barnett. Herne Bay are third ranked with a solid team which has plenty of depth while fourth ranked are host team SquashGym with Luke Jones as its top player.
Of the other sides Henderson Squash Club in Auckland has two New Zealand junior team members in the form of Leo Fatialofa and Bay of Plenty’s Glenn Templeton.
Eden Epsom from Central Auckland has young pro Anthony Lepper leading the charge and Australasia’s top U17 player and New Zealand junior team member Elijah Thomas.
The other clubs taking part are Auckland clubs, North Shore, Remuera, Royal Oak, Titirangi and Waikato clubs Hamilton and Cambridge.
In the Mitchell Cup women’s event there are seven teams including top seeds Hamilton Squash Club who have plenty of depth. Hamilton have Emma Millar (ranked 148 in the world) as top ranked player, followed by New Zealand No.2 junior Anika Jackson then Lauren Clarke along with highly regarded junior Sophie Hodges.
The North Shore Squash Club featuring Abbie Palmer (ranked 104 in the world) are second seeds, followed by Remuera who have plenty of depth throughout their side.
Taupo Squash Club are fourth seeds and are led by top Australasian junior Kaitlyn Watts ranked 112 in the world who was also in the New Zealand senior team last year. Watts is usually a Palmerston North local but turning out for Taupo as there is no women’s side from the SquashGym Club.
Play starts at 1pm on Friday with initial Cousins Shield matches followed by Mitchell Cup from 4.30. The grand finals are at 1.30 on Sunday.
International play then hits Palmerston North at the same venue with the Inspirenet International PSA Challenger tournament starting on Wednesday. The US$11,000 men’s event and US$5,500 has a large number of nations represented, some ranked inside the world’s top 100.