Former top international squash player and ex-Timaruvian Trevor Colyer will be in Timaru for the New Zealand Masters National Individual and Inter-District Teams Championships from October 18 to 22. He reminisced with Timaru Courier reporter Chris Tobin about how he got involved in the sport and on his career.
But for a chance invitation to come along and try squash, Trevor Colyer (69) might not have even taken up the sport.
The year was 1964 and the guiding light of Timaru squash at that time, a former Timaru Boys’ High School teacher “Wassy” Wilson, issued an invitation to all Timaru secondary pupils to check the sport out.
Colyer, then a keen table tennis player, went along with his mates and his sporting aspirations took a dramatic new turn.
A group emerged which soon became mad keen on squash. Besides Colyer, it included Brett Martin, Tony Naughton, Les Plever, Greg Watson and Morris Billington.
“We practised on a Friday from 3pm to 5pm under Mr Wilson’s supervision.
“Squash had gradings and we started climbing up the ladder quite quickly, as we were all handy tennis players.
“When 1968 came around the New Zealand under-19 championships were held in Rotorua and Mr Wilson organised sponsors for all of us to travel to this event.”
Colyer showed how he had progressed, winning the singles title.
He caught the attention of the national coach,Dardir El Bakary, who asked if he wanted to shift to Auckland for coaching.
“Moving from Timaru to Auckland was a big thing then for an 18-year-old, but I had a sister living there as well.”
After he relocated, Colyer’s career took off.
He represented New Zealand for the first time in 1970 and continued until 1978, enjoying many highlights along the way.
In 1973 he played the New Zealand final against old rival Neven Barbour in a tight five-setter over 105 minutes, which was broadcast live on radio.
Colyer believed it was the only time this had happened.
In 1975 he made the quarterfinals of the British Amateur Championship and the final of the Wimbledon Cup, losing to the world’s No1 amateur at the time, Dave Scott, of South Africa.
In 1977 Colyer and Barbour played a three-match test series against Australia in New Zealand.
“The first test was in Hamilton and I came up against the current world amateur champion that year, Kevin Shawcross.
“I won and then Neven beat Ray Lewis to give New Zealand their first win ever over Australia. This stands today as one of the highlights in the New Zealand record books.”
The next year Colyer bowed out of top international squash, winning the Queensland Open and beating the top three players in Australia, Yates, Cheetham and Donnelly.
His player CV includes seven national titles, the World Masters title in 1991 and two runner-up placings.
He has also coached and managed New Zealand teams.
These days he lives in Riverton where his sporting preference is again table tennis.
“I’m back playing A-grade and finished runner-up in the Southland over-60s recently.
“But the body is telling me it’s time to finish [squash].”
Colyer will play alongside his daughter, Tanya Colyer, in the Timaru tournament.
He said it would be his last squash competition, ending his career in the town where it began 55 years ago.