Bay of Plenty Squash is rightly proud about winning a third consecutive national women’s title.
The unprecedented run of success breaks a long barren run going back to Bay of Plenty’s previous women’s title in 1981.
The Bay team that competed in Christchurch last week included Rotorua players Alana Kairaoi and Camden Te Kani-McQueen with Lauren Clarke and Joanna Shanks from Tauranga and Taupo’s Vicki Beker.
Rotorua’s Cheryl Te Kani-McQueen played in that 1981 Bay team and has played a significant role as coach and manager of the last three national champion teams.
Squash Bay of Plenty’s regional manager Marcus Niles says Cheryl has had a big influence on the team.
“When they are away she is great with the team. Her daughter is in the team and she organised a lot of extra trainings leading up to the event in Christchurch which we really haven’t done a lot of in the past as logistically it is quite tricky.
“She has so much to do with the team culture which has been really, really good. We have two or three in the team who are juniors coming through to bolster the team plus returning players so a good mix.
“There is a really good feeling in the team. The coaches have been the same for the last three years and they have done a lot of work with the girls.”
At this month’s nationals Bay of Plenty beat Eastern District 4-0 and Central District 3-1 in pool play before edging top seeds Auckland in a tense semifinal to set up a showdown with local rivals Waikato in the final.
To the surprise of many Bay of Plenty easily beat Waikato 4-0 to claim the title.
Marcus says it was significant to beat Waikato so comprehensively.
“Behind Auckland they would be the team that has won the title more often recently. In the last 10 years they would be the strongest district in the women’s game.”
The Bay men's team finished fourth in Christchurch, which matched their seeding heading into the nationals.
“The boys got second last year which was one out of the box but fourth is a really good result actually for the team we had,” says Marcus.
“Again the culture in the team and between the men’s and women’s teams was great. They stayed together and trained together and the way they support each other at the event is really cool.”
Squash is booming across the Bay of Plenty region which Marcus says must be ranked up there with the top regions in New Zealand.
“We have to be one of the very best with growth and activity, rep teams, and across all aspects of the sport we are doing really well, punching above our weight.”