By Jamie Regan
The 2016 NZCT Aims Games squash champions were crowned this evening, as Mason Smales and Jade Stratford both won their finals 3-0.
Jade Stratford (Somerville Intermediate) beat Jena Gregory in the girls final, keeping her head in a tight game where Gregory never let her get away.
“Jena was really tough – I haven’t played her before but I knew it would be a close game,” Stratford said.
Throughout the tournament, both Stratford and Gregory were the dominant players, seeded first and second respectively.
Smales, of Liston College, beat Tauranga Intermediate‘s Joe Smythe in an intense game, where all three games went down to the wire. It was Smales, however, who took his chances, and took out the title after finishing fourth in 2015.
“I’m so happy; it’s a great feeling to win after coming fourth last year,” Smales said. “It was a good win but very tough – Joe is a good opponent who plays some great shots.”
Smythe battled hard and showed why he, along with Smales, is in the New Zealand development squad.
The result means that Smales only dropped one game the whole tournament, an impressive feat in such a tough competition.
Braedyn Henderson beat Ben McCurran in the boy’s third and fourth playoff game, while Manaii Peeti beat Katie Templeton in the girls’ bronze playoff.