The opening day of the NZCT AIMS Games squash competition featured a battle of the north, as 14th-seed Ella Holwell (Kamo Intermediate) took on Ahipara School’s Brydie Harrison in the first round at the Mt Maunganui Squash Club.
Holwell, the daughter of former Hurricanes and Blues rugby player David Holwell, showed true grit and determination in an epic game, which saw the girls go point-for-point and game-for-game.
The Kamo star eventually prevailed, winning 15/11, 15/10, 16/14, 16/18, 15/13, using the disappointment of last year as motivation. In the 2014 Aims Games campaign, she had to be taken from the court after suffering concussion. Holwell has been training hard with some good recent form, winning her divisions in both the Kamo and Mangakahia Junior Tournaments in the lead up to the Aims Games.
Brad Seager, the only squash representative from Pirongia School, had the support of his Performance Group cheering him on from the grandstand. Playing Genghis Gardes (Purua School), Segger showed his squash skills to outperform his opponent. Haling from the Te Awamutu Squash Club and a strong junior programme, Segger won in straight sets to progress to the next round seeded 26.
The boys draw is exceptionally strong with nine out of New Zealand’s top 10 under-13 boys represented at the tournament. Top-seeded Liston College player Leo Fatialofa is the current under-13 Oceania champion and North Island champion, who is looking to cap off a phenomenal season with AIMS Games gold. He has played over 30 tournaments this year and trains 10 hours per week.
Tournament controller Char Niles said the first day of competition had been outstanding, with some great squash and great team spirit.
“The calibre of the participants in unbelievable, although the results so far have gone as expected,” she said. “As we get further through the competition, we should see some tougher games and more highlights.”