Top squash comes to Christchurch with the AON New Zealand Junior Nationals held at Christchurch Squash Club starting tomorrow (Friday 2 October) until Sunday 4 October with the individual events followed by the teams events 5-6 October.
Around 170 players ranging from those in the 11-year-old grades to professionally world ranked competitors in the men’s U19 grade will take part in the tournament.
Elijah Thomas, 17 from the Eden Epsom club in Auckland who has gained from the coaching of former world champ, Carol Owens is the top player in the tournament with a world senior PSA ranking of 259. He was a beaten finalist to second seed Glenn Templeton from Katikati in the Bay of Plenty ranked 355 in last year’s final.
They are expected to meet again for the title if things go to plan in 2020 in what will be quality squash on the finals day. However other players with world rankings such as Northland’s Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist, Auckland’s Leo Fatialofa, and Joe Smythe from Bay of Plenty will want to have their say while Blenheim’s Henry Moran and Jack Condor (Auckland) add extra depth to the strong U19’s draw.
The U17 boys draw is headed by Paul Moran (Blenheim) who has already competed in PSA Satellite tournaments with Mason Smales from Henderson the second seed.
The top names in the women’s U19 draw include Natalie Sayes from Auckland as the No.1 seed with a ranking of 319 in the world despite being just 16-year-old. Second seed is Ella Lash, also from Auckland who turned 15 this week.
Katie Templeton from Katikati is 17 and has a PSA ranking while Southland’s Anna O’Connor is world ranked at 302nd and will be expecting to reach the later rounds of the women’s U19 draw.
Covid-19 has only put a slight dampener on numbers, but those entered are keen to get on court and compete for all national titles ranging from 11’s, 13’s, 15, 17’s and 19’s and to emulate current New Zealand top players Paul Coll and Joelle King.