With entries from all over New Zealand the 2017 New Zealand Masters Championships are set! The New Zealand Masters were last held at Kawaroa Park in 2010 so it is great to see the event return for 2017. The team at Kawaroa Park, ably lead by Jane Gadsby have been working extremely hard and they will be sure to make everyone feel welcome, whilst providing a top notch event.
The Masters contingent continues to show their continued support for events in New Zealand, and in particular the New Zealand Masters, with this year 165 competitors battling it out for the various age group trophies! This is a great effort with it being a heavy year for masters’ events with the World Masters Games being held in April in Auckland, it is great to see everyone return to compete in the NZ Masters, in particular some World Masters Games Champions.
Sam Atkins is back to try and defend his title he won in 2016 in the youngest age group the 35-39’s. He is set to face some tough competition along the way with newcomer Aaron Kopittke making his first Masters appearance. In the Women’s event Shaylee Pringle takes the top seeding whilst Korina Brown and Tania Tatana-Walker also make an appearance to try and clinch this title. Last year’s finalists are both absent setting the way for a new national champion in this age group.
World Masters Games Gold Medalist Suk Hee Kim takes the top seeding in the 40-44 age group and is set to face Nadine Cull in the final. Cull is set to bring her best after having recently compete in the New Zealand Masters Trans-Tasman team, both players are seeking their second 40-44 age group title with Cull already having 2x 35-39 age group titles. Allan Crome and Corey Love take the top 2 spots in the men’s side and both will be looking to get a new name on the 40-44 title in a repeat of their World Masters Game Final.
Lisa Cowlard has 7 Masters titles to her name and is seeking an 8th as she takes top seed in the 45-49 age group. Paul Bedford takes the top seeding in the 45-49 age group with Scott Gardiner having pulled out, Bedford will be hunting his third title to go alongside the 2017 World Masters Games title which will give him confidence heading into the event.
The 50-54 age group sees Kathryn McKay hunting an 11th Masters title, but if the seedings hold true she is due to face fellow Bay of Plenty player Vicki Beker in the finals, Beker last claimed a Masters title in 2012 and will be hungry for another. Gary Duberly the 2 times World Masters Champion and 8 time NZ Masters Champion will look to reclaim the title he lost in 2016 to Grant Craig, and all going to plan there should be a repeat of this 2016 final.
The 55-59 age group has Karen Walton set to go back to back with titles whilst the men’s draw is set to see a new name etched into the history books. In the men’s draw, should seedings hold true it will be Michael White claiming the title, however second seed Martin McKelvie will be sure to make this a difficult task for him.
Freda Walker looks set to claim another title and go back to back topping the 60-64 age group. Walker has seven Masters titles to her name but newcomer to the 60+ age group Sandra Lelievre will be sure to make it a tough ask for Walker. Masters stalwart Mark Waldin moves up an age group in 2017 and will be wanting to add to his masters collection already having 6 titles in his name.
Judy Smith and Diana Dennett will be trying to get their name on the Women’s 65+ title whilst Kaye Jackson is set to aim for her lucky 13th Masters title in the 70+ age group. The 65+ Men’s draw is set to bring some excitement with Wayne Seebeck making his first appearance in this age group and hunting a sixth title. Hongi Laing will be looking to push Seebeck and clinch his first ever Masters title. John Rowell is seeded top of the Men’s 70+ whilst Richard Purser takes the top spot in the 75+ age group.
There is a great deal of squash to be played, and it promises to be a fantastic weekend. Good luck to everyone involved, both on and off the court and it is sure to be a great event!
Full draws for the event can be found here
An event like no other in New Zealand the Masters Teams event means any district is capable of winning with strengths arising an almost any age group and surprises from the most unlikely of players. 11 players ranging from spring chickens just scraping into Masters category at 35 years old to the more experienced 65+ age group, there is space for everyone in this event! 2 days of squash makes for an exceptional event and with 6 districts in 2017 it is going to be a big few days with teams having back to back ties to accommodate for the early Tuesday finish.
Auckland are seeded to retain their title they claimed in 2016 but they are sure to face stiff competition from the Cantabrians who will be seeking a 12th title. Waikato and Bay of Plenty take third and fourth seedings with a variety of experience and new comers to both teams. Southland continue their appearance at the Masters Teams Event and will be seeking to cause an upset to make their way into a playoff for a higher finish than their seeding. Local district Central are also set to punch above their weight and will be looking to do whatever possible to beat their seeding.
The team’s event gets underway on Monday, after the conclusion of the individuals on Sunday. The very best of luck, both on the court and in the all-important final night competition, to all teams.
Full draws for the event can be found here Masters Teams Draws 12-9