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Squash stars show progress

PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

The success of two Wairarapa squash players this season has seen them make progress in the New Zealand grading system.

Claudia Hawkes and Milly France were part of the St Matthew’s Collegiate team that contested the New Zealand secondary schools squash tournament this month in Palmerston North.

More than 50 teams from across the country competed at the event in girls’ and boys’ divisions, and St Matthew’s finished 13th in the girls’ grade.

Hawkes is now in the C1 bracket with 1615 points, while France fell just short of breaking into B2 and sits in C1 on 1795 points.

She reached a peak score of 1885 a couple of weeks ago – just 15 points short of B2 status.

Hawkes, 14, said she had been only been playing competitively for less than four years, but squash had always been part of the family.

“The tournament was really good – there was lots of competition and hard games.

“It’s a goal I’ve been aiming to achieve for a while now, and I was very proud of myself to get up into C1.”

France and Hawkes were joined in the five-strong St Matthew’s team by Cassandra Dawson, Paige Hirst and Casey McAvoy, and competed against five other schools in their draw.

Hawkes is preparing for a tilt at nationals later in the year, and had clear goals she was hoping to achieve.

“I’d like to get to B-grade by the end of the year and make the Wellington team next year.

“Then I want to get into A-grade before I leave school.”

Hawkes said the sport was character building and taught her valuable life lessons.

“It pushes me mentally and physically which I really like.”

The Wairarapa College girls’ team lost one of their top players through injury at the secondary schools tournament but still gave a strong performance to finish 12th out of 21 teams.

The team was led by senior players Ella Steventon and Annissa Greenlees, both in their fifth year representing Waicol at the national secondary school competitions.

Ariana Sutton, Ella Southey, Amy Bunny and Olivia Anstiss provided a strong lower order and capably stepped up when Greenlees had to retire injured.

Greenlees and Steventon will be missed next year, but the girls will be training hard with the hope of making a top eight placing in 2019.

Waicol were awarded the Co-Ed Cup at the event due to the efforts of both their boys’ and girls’ teams, as the boys also finished 12th in their division.

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