NZSS Squash Nationals 2022

Venue: North Shore 

Date: 6-8 August

The team was seeded 19th this year, which was a drop from last year.  However, with the exception of one player, the rest of the team has another two years after this year together.  Hence this was the year of getting the team together and building experience.
Team: Logan Terrill, Jacob Peters, Zach Haynes, Toby Freyria, Ari Laurenson, Hayden Carter (reserve).

Coach:  Hamish Gray Assistant coach:  Kaye Carter TIC:  Kate Kilgour

Round 1 – Cullinane College (14th Seeds)
In this round, everyone was matched against someone of a higher grade.  Jacob was first up – He showed some extreme pace and made his much higher graded opponent really work for the victory.  Ari next and he defied the odds – holding his nerve to win in a tight 5 games.  As is the custom in teams events the number 1’s play 3rd – Logon put up a strong showing against his B grade opponent – but was unable to get the win.  Toby was on 4th and being debut showed a few nerves – this impacted him and he also lost.  With the tie now over last up last was Zach Haynes.  Zach jumped out of the blocks taking the first set (his opponent was a full grade above him).  He then had opportunities in each of the next 3 sets but wasn’t able to win another game.  Overall, a really encouraging first-up performance from the team.

Result Lost 4-1

Round 2 – Macleans College (30th Seed)
Next up for the boys were Macleans – Although seeded below our boys they were a team of older boys who looked to be recruited from Badminton or Tennis.  Hence we knew this might be a close one.  Jacob again led the team out, this time he got the win closing it out in a tight 3 sets.  Hayden Carter was on next, the walls were already showing signs of being damp and Hayden initially struggled against the power servers of his older opponent.  Finding himself 2-1 down Hayden played some inspired squash to take it to a 5th.  The last set proved to be close again, Hayden reached a match ball and was unlucky to not get the win.  He battled bravely and saved 3 match balls before finally succumbing.  Logan was next and made short work on the opposition number 1, with some really accurate hitting.  This put the boys 2-1 and gave Toby a chance to win.  Toby was much improved from the morning but was unable to handle the power of his older opponent this time.  Zach was up last with it all to play for.  Usually, these deciders are a nervous time but Zach showed he has learned from last year and made it look easy as he took a deserved 3-0 win with some really good attacking squash.

Result Win 3-2

Round 3 – Rangitoto College (27th Seed)
The boys were now well into the tournament, with everyone having had a game.  Next up was Rangitoto, a local Auckland team and the local club, that was becoming our second home of Browns Bay.  Being Saturday the playing order was now changed, so up first was Toby.  He was fast improving and the nerves were now gone this allowed him to play much better and he notched his first win for the weekend,  Zach was next his great form continued and he made short work of his game hitting a barrage of winners.  Logan was expected to win and did, it’s not always easy playing lower-graded players but Logan held his nerve and closed the tie out for the team.  Ari was back in the team after being rested in the previous round.  He again showed improvements hitting some great length and also getting the win.  Up last was Jacob, he suffered from a slow start falling 7-0 down in the first.  But after a string of points in a row, he took the first set 15-13.  This set the stage for the rest of the match with Jacob winning the remaining sets 11-2, 11-0.

Result Win 5-0

Round 4 – St Paul’s Collegiate 1 (15th Seed)
We moved clubs for this match, heading down to Devonport to play St Pauls Collegiate’s first team.  On paper, this looked like a tough match and the playing order of 4-3-1-5-2 indicated this might end up at another 2-all match.  Up first was Toby, he struggled to meet his opponent’s power and went down in straight sets, however all credit to Toby he never let his head drop and never gave in.  Zach was upset, in what was really a must-win game.  Zach’s opponent was higher graded and older than him.  Again showing he had learned much from prior years Zach took control early, hitting precision length.  He tied the match at 1-1.  Once more Logan was expected to win and he did.  Closing it out with a solid 3-0 win.  Ari was on 4th with a chance to win the tie for the team.  This was a tough match for Ari but again never gave in and came close to stealing a set or two, but unfortunately didn’t get a win.  Last up was Jacob, with the teams tied at 2-2 Jacob had the chance to get the team into the plate final.  His opponent was a full grade above and clearly a very talented badminton player also.  Jacob showed some amazing speed to take the first set before his opponent started to find his range taking the next two.  Facing defeat Jacob then started his comeback in what was a nervous set to watch he won some amazing points to take it 11-9.  This is as close as it gets, 2 matches each of the 2 sets all in the final game.  The entire viewing area was full of people and each point was cheered.  It wasn’t to be however with the SPC boy playing some great shots to get a lead early, Jacob tried to fight back but it was too little too late and the match was over.  This left us to fight to retain our seeding in the 19-20 playoff.

Result Lost 3-2

Round 5 – Marlborough Boys 2 (16th Seed)
We moved to Sunday but returned to Browns Bay.  Again on paper, with the exception of Logan, we were not expected to win this tie.  However, with the boys improving game on game we knew we could do well.  Up first was Ari, he showed all the grit and determination that was becoming a hallmark of the team, to fight back from 2-1 down and win a 5th set decider.  Over the weekend Ari had adapted his game, improving his length and pinned his opponent deep in the back before playing deft drop shots at the front.  Jacob again showed great speed winning his game in 4 sets.  Logan won again at 1, leaving just Zach and Toby to play.  Zach completed what was a really good weekend for him dispatching his opponent in 3 sets.  He was starting to make squash look easy and seems set for a big grading push in the next 12 months.  Up last was Toby – Toby had been showing improvements but was yet to really make it all click.  However, today that changed, he took the first set of his older opponent.  He then found himself a bit outgunned for the next two.  However, he didn’t give up and executed the game plan expertly in the 4th and took it to a deciding 5th set.  This was a really close game before Toby strung together a series of great points and closed it out on his first match point.  He raised his arms in celebration and rightly so, it was a great effort.  

Result Won 3-2

Overall it was a great effort from the boys, of which they should all be very proud.  In general, they played against older and stronger boys but this didn’t phase them.  We’re looking forward to this team aiming for big things.  I think they have proven to themselves that grades don’t matter and anything can happen on the day.  It was great to see the progression they all made, especially on the mental side of things.  These are the things that will make the biggest difference in the coming years as we push forward attempting to reach our goal.
Hamish Gray (Coach)