Awards Night Success Wraps up 2020 Season

The 5th July saw the last event on the Squash Central Calendar take place at Whanganui Squash club.  The evening kicked off with he AGM where we welcomed 3 new faces to the the Central committee Pauline Waite (Levin) as Treasurer, Ngakuira Osborne (Squashgym) and Shaun Dyer (Stratford) as committee members.  We farewelled our current President Christine Rukuwai who now lives in Wellington, Treasurer Sheryl Hooper (Taihape) and committee member Brayden Bryce (Ashhurst Pohangina).  Our incoming president is Jeff See of Waitara, Jeff has been on the committee for several years so has a good understanding of the District.

After the AGM the Awards Dinner kicked off with MC Mitch Careswell leading the celebrations. The 2020 awards winners were:

 Referee of the year Winner Mike Jack of Kawaroa Park Squash Club - Even though Mike Jack had hip surgery this year, it was not slowing him down. Mike has been part of the SNZ refereeing panel for 2020 of which he has been a member since 2016. During Covid lockdown in April Mike participated in two SNZ online Club Referee webinars and he also hosted a Rules and Refereeing night at KP in May. Mike continues to do refreee assessments when possible and is always available to discuss rules and refereeing with anyone.

Most Improved Senior Player of the Year - Jacob Brunton of Levin Squash Club - Jacob had a point increase for the season of 660 points taking out the award over runner up Kirsten Seaver of KP who increased by 520 points.

Most Improved Junior Player of the Year - Jayden Bailey of Ohakune Squash Club - Jayden had a massive year of improvement even with two months of no squash due to COVID 19,  Moving up the grading list by a massive 1130 points to take out the award for 2020.  Jayden also took out the NZ D grade men Champion of Champion Title back in October.  The runner up Bradley Hopkins  was hot on his heals only 20 points down on 1110 point increase for the season.  Definitely two rising starts in our midst.

Mens Masters Player/Services in Squash - Kent Darlington of Whanganui Squash Club -  Kent fits not just one but all criteria for the Men's Master Award.  Firstly contributing as a player, he continues to be top in his game in the Central Districts senior ranks, ranked 2nd in Central as well as being the top Central Men’s Master on points and holding his A2 grade amongst much younger peers. Kent has won the Central Masters for the past 2 years and competed in the team at Nationals.

As administrator and manager Kent continues to support Central off court through roles such as being on the dispute committee for Superchamps 2020 and MC for the Central awards 2018 -2019  Manager/coach Whanganui E grade Mens team to Oamaru for the national teams event.  He also coaches the NuiJuniors on Monday nights at the club and continues his important role as one of the NZ Junior Selectors, selecting young talent nationally, to represent NZ in teams events. 

Womens Masters Player/Services in Squash - Tamsyn Leevey of Kawaroa Park Squash Club - Tamsyn lent her hand to our tournament control, in attracting and inviting a higher calibre of players to our local tournaments, opening her home to them as a form of free accommodation as incentive for making the trip. She also worked with a number of Junior and Senior players from around Taranaki spending hours of time on and off court, sharing her knowledge and expertise with them. Further to this, the inaugural Taranaki Junior open was held this year and Tamsyn kindly donated the trophy for the Taranaki Junior Girls Champion. 

Tamsyn generously sponsored a number of events at the club. She could be seen on court during world squash day lending a hand to members of the public who had come down just to give it a go, teaching them the basics of our sport and sparking enthusiasm in it. Tamsyn is one of Centrals coaches and also Bar Manager at KP.

Administrator of the Year - Katie Gilmour of Rangitikei Squash Club - Katie joined committee as President in 2019/2020 season.   Since taking the helm of the club she set up and ran their annual Business House competition, managed the club through lockdown, played and managed a C grade womens Super Champs team and Interclub team.  Using her experience and knowledge in marketing and communications, Katie frequently updates the website and Facebook pages with photos and details about what's going on around the Club. With her outgoing personality, infectious smile and her genuine interest in how everyone is doing she has helped reinvigorate excitement around the Club at our weekly League nights – you could guarantee that Katie would be there, playing or not either behind the Bar or walking around engaging with the members. Planning has already begun for the 2021 season to make sure that the Club hits the ground running. 

Personality of the Year - Ross Berrett of Rangitikei Squash Club - The positive influence that Ross has had on the Rangitikei club in the last 3 or so years is significant in many ways one of which is being instrumental in getting the interclub teams up and running – Rangitikei now has three men's teams and a women's team. 

He has oversight of the mens teams and makes sure that everyone is keen and eager and also makes sure that the weeks match ups are not one sided affairs. He also organises the masters interclub team for Rangitikei. Every club knows Ross aka 'the Poison Dwarf' exceptionally well and he goes out of his way to ensure that everyone has a good time. He is a good supporter of the game and is also supporting others when he is not playing regardless of what club they are from. 

Ross is a top bloke, always putting his hand up to organise things such as inter-club and challenges with other clubs all while having a laugh or a joke and a beer. 

Volunteer of the Year - Heather Plank of Rangitikei and Ohakea Squash Clubs - Heather is right at the heart of Rangitikei and Ohakea Squash Clubs. She is the brilliant Bar Manager of four years who is there late every week, restocks, recycles and replenishes. She's on hand at Men's and Women's Interclub to help out, despite whether she is playing or not. She's a superstar in the kitchen who keeps everyone fed on Leagues nights and at tournaments. Heather has been at every committee meeting and this year, she generously put her hand up to fill the secretary void, no questions asked. Correspondence is never missed, she gets the minutes out super speedily, she's busy filling in grants and sourcing contracting quotes. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement but she does it so well, you can hardly blame them for wanting it to continue forever! 

At Ohakea for more than 10 years, Heather has been the sole point of 'corporate knowledge' for the club, taking in countless new committee members, and coaching them through all of the administrative details it takes to run the club. She handles it all, from a Squash Central point of view, through to managing volunteers and fundraising, and the RNZAF reporting and budgeting process. It is no exaggeration to say she holds the place together!

Planky always puts her hand up to help, she's Ms Reliable and makes the Club a better place to be with her bubbly personality and enthusiasm. Every Club needs a Planky. 

Player of the Year - Annabel Romero-Gemmell of SquashGym Palmerston North - Anabel has come a long way this year! She started the nomination period by capturing another National title, her third in a row. As most squashies started taking a well-earned break as the season came to an end, Anabel redoubled her efforts to participate in two of the most prestigious international events: the Scottish and the British open tournaments. 

While most squashies were having great family time, Anabel spent Christmas Eve sitting on a plane getting mentally ready for her upcoming battles. Anabel travelled to Edinburgh to compete in the Scottish Open, where she came in 5th. The conditions were good, but the competition and the learning experience were great! Then, she travelled to Birmingham to compete in the British open. Anabel faced some of the top players in Malaysia, India, Spain and England. She came 25th out of a 128 draw and had the opportunity to see what the top players in the world play like. This great competitive experience paled compared to the learning experience and the inspiration it generated for her. 

She was selected for the Jr Elite NZ squad in January. Anabel kept her physical training throughout lockdown, and restarted the year playing the Taupo invitational, coming in 1st in the Jr division. She came in 3rd in the North Islands in the u-15's and was undefeated throughout B grade Superchamps. She also helps with the SquashGym academy, mentoring our younger players and training with them whenever she can. Annabel is now A grade.

Coach of the Year - Kaye Carter of Kawaroa Park Squash Club - Kaye has been working hard this year along with support from Lee Rangi with a busy term 3 of Kiwi sport funded School coaching. She had 3 schools doing grass roots introductory squash with groups consisting of ages 7 to 16 with between 15 and 20 participants in each group, the feedback has been fantastic and there's a lot of interest in joining squash for next seasons Junior programme. She has also been part of the team that coached the F Grade ladies to a district win and a national's runner up placing.  Kaye enjoyed a second place national finish with her B grade ladies team. Kaye has been consistent in running Women's only coaching groups twice yearly and completed her 9th year of running the K.P Junior programme which is held on a Monday afternoon and includes up to 45 players from 5 to 17 years. Kaye does hours of free introductory coaching offering this opportunity to
any new member or non-member or anyone in fact that would like to learn, she is then able to connect players and welcome them into the club. 

Team of the Year - Central Junior Girls Nationals team 2019 -  The team of Kaitlyn Watts, Annaleise Faint, Anabel Romero-Gemmell, Genevieve Bell all from SquashGym Palmerston North as well as Abbie Holmes of Hawera  went unbeaten at the NZ Junior National's Team Event in October 2019. After making the finals and coming up against a very strong Auckland side, they made history! The first time in the competitions history each team won the exact same number of matches, then games, then points - they were crowned joint National Champions! 

Club of the Year - Kawaroa Park Squash Club New Plymouth - Kawaroa Park Squash club has had another outstanding year. Despite the testing times with Covid-19 lockdown, the team worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get the club up and running again. 

They currently have 309 members with their base of competitive female players increasing every year which is helped by the twice yearly women's only coaching clinic's. The results of this were shown in the strength of their F grade ladies' team that took out the district super champs and came away with a fantastic runner up placing at the National super champs and the B grade ladies who also saw success, coming away with a runner up placing at Nationals after fighting their way up from a 7th seed. 

A little elbow grease from the club captains and a reflection on the engagement of their strong membership base, saw the club put forward 9 of a possible 10 teams for District Superchamps with four teams getting a spot at nationals. 

This year they had 58 Junior club members with 36 of them playing competitively including top Juniors players Abbie Holmes and Lachlan Greensill who both represented Central this year and Brooke Reid who was accepted into the Sport Taranaki Future Champions programme for up and coming athletes. Aside from the Monday night juniors the Club also hosted a successful Junior Prince Tournament, the inaugural Taranaki Junior Open Tournament and leant court space to local high schools New Plymouth Boys High, Francis Douglas Memorial College, Waitara High School and Sacred Heart Girl's College. Thier facilities were also provided for the Taranaki Secondary schools Sports association to run their annual tournament. 

They have hosted 3 school groups (Moturoa Primary, Puketapu School and home school community) each with between 15 to 20 kids for the 10 weeks of term 3. They were introduced to squash sparking enthusiasm amongst the children and an encouraging interest in our junior programme. This was made possible with Kiwi sport funding and the dedication of the two coaches involved. 

Kawaroa Park has also opened its facilities to the Progress to Health Rehabilitation Group to have use of the club room every week as they hold their music therapy sessions. A group designed to help rehabilitate and empower those who have suffered from stroke and various brain injury through the power of music and community. 

Early 2020 K.P installed the new Hello club booking and membership management system which streamlines court bookings and membership data as well as enabling them to offer a wide range of options for all members and potential members alike. 

Social squash is strong around the club as they host fortnightly club nights which often see crowds of up to 40 players a night with a mixture of genders ages and levels. There is also a weekly mid-week squash session on Wednesday mornings with both events offering an opportunity for new and experienced players to turn up and have a casual hit, a coffee and a chat afterwards and better yet, both events are open to the public.